Female Jungle (1956)
By: Paul Ryan on September 8, 2009  | 
Dark Horse Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 70 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Bruno VeSota
Starring: Lawrence Tierney, John Carradine, Jayne Mansfield
Screenplay: Bruno VeSota, Burt Kaiser
Country: USA
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Rising movie star Monica Madison (Jean Lewis) is strangled to death outside a seedy bar following the premiere of her latest film. Arriving on the scene, police encounter off-duty Sergeant Stevens (Lawrence Tierney), who has spent the night in the bar on a bender. Admonished by his deeply unimpressed Captain (Jack Hill), a chastened Stevens immediately sets about trying to solve the case. Which is difficult given that he has little memory of the night's drinking session, not to mention that he might also be a suspect. Also caught up in the case are troubled artist Alex (producer and co-writer Burt Kaiser), his wife Peggy (Kathryn Crowley); wealthy writer –and Monica's Svengali figure – Claude Almstead (John Carradine), and resident strumpet Candy (Jayne Mansfield), who is having affairs with both Alex and Stevens…

Directed and co-written by character actor Bruno VeSota (who also appears in a small supporting role), Female Jungle is a pleasing slice of fifties pulp noir. Moodily shot in black and white, this has more interesting characters than usual for a cheap drive-in thriller, and an especially interesting cast.

Tierney makes for a rugged, flawed hero, whilst John Carradine is especially enjoyable as the foppish Almstead. The female roles are sketchier, but Kathleen Crowley and Jayne Mansfield (the latter in her film debut) inject vigor and sensuality into their characters. The mystery itself is pleasingly twisty and keeps you guessing throughout, making this a worthwhile little B-movie.

Dark even for a film noir piece, the video appears to be another NTSC-to-PAL conversion, but it's not that noticeable as these things go. The print itself is mostly fine, with occasional scratches and specks, though there is also an ugly bit of print damage (involving some broken/missing frames) at one point near the end.
Sound-wise, the audio hasn't been restored, but is fairly clear overall, with dialogue easy to understand throughout. That aforementioned bit of print damage does render one of Carradine's lines incomprehensible though.
Extra Features
What's nothing divided by nothing? That's right, nothing.
The Verdict
Full of lushes, smart guys, harlots and big shots, Female Jungle is an entertaining little B-thriller. There's a one-of-a-kind cast, moody cinematography and effective atmosphere. As with DV1's other fifties drive-in titles, there are no extras, while audio and video are merely okay.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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