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The Human Jungle recently came on BBC2 during the early hours (when most films of this type are screened) and was glad I taped it.A police chief decides to receive his boys to create as many arrests as possible to test and reduce crime on the streets. Folks receive arrested for all sorts of crimes, including theft, vandalism and burglary. There is also a murder to be solved. Things don't support with this zero tolerance privacy when a copper accidentally shoots and kills an innocent man.The Human Jungle gives you an concept on what life was like in a police station at this time and was made documentary style.The cast contains Gary Merrill (Mysteroius Island), Jan Sterling (Split Second), Chuck Conners (Old Yeller) and Paula Raymond (The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms).I rather enjoyed watching The Human Jungle and watch it if you receive the possibility as it is rather obscure.Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.
The Human Jungle is a fairly mediocre crime thriller that combines police procedural with noir to limited effect. Clearly made on the cheap (by Allied Artists, the 'high-budget' arm of the by-then defunct Poverty Row studio, Monogram) the movie is populated with a number of actors who were either never more than second-string or were still in the early stages of their careers. Gary Merrill was as popular for being the toy-boy squeeze of Bette Davis as he was for his acting skills, and in this one he wears a permanent scowl and is nearly everytime mad presumably to present the righteousness of his crusade; Lamont Johnson as the police department's hot-head never really slash it as an actor and would search more success as a director. He's OK here, and certainly had the looks to go further, but his hero seems to have been inserted for no reason another than to flesh out a short running time. Claude Akins and Chuck Connors, both in the early years of their careers, also appear as a pair of tough guys. Highlight of the film, though, is Jan Sterling as a brassy bottle-blonde, callously used by the cops as bait to catch the villains. In fact, the cast is by far the most interesting thing about this ordinary b-movie.
When he is invited down to visit mate Police Chief Abe Rowan, Captain John Danforth finds a precinct full of lazy and unmotivated cops surrounded by a district overrun by juvenile delinquency and crime most notably a high profile murder that has just occurred. Danforth challenges Rowan and as a effect Rowan throws the job back at him and Danfoth finds himself in temporary charge and determined to turn the precinct around. Breaking the news to his wife is only the first of many challenges to confront Danforth as he tackles his own men, tiny crime, organised hoods and internal red tape.As the sagely Theo has already commented, this is a movie that surprisingly still has a lot of relevance in the UK at the moment, what with police over stretched, "justice" being seen as something that doesn't exist in the true globe anymore and police seemingly hampered by red tape while their standing within the community drops away to nothing. So with that background this movie is immediately interesting after the ten-minute set up sees Danforth facing related challenges and taking them on. However despite this unintentional realism, the movie is fairly straightforward without any nice imagination but it does still do enough to be gritty and interesting on its own terms. Although not morally complex enough to really be classed as a noir, it is still gritty as a storyline and produce the usual hardnosed, tough-talking delivery. The storyline is reasonable enough although the simplistic view of one officer turning around an whole zone is perhaps difficult to swallow whenever the everyday news here suggests that the system can conquer any enthusiastic officer. In that regard, Danforth will be seen as a rallying cry to the Right (he even dismisses the accidental shooting of a pedestrian by one of his officers as being just part of a war), but his disclaimers will produce very tiny empathy from the more liberal sections of the audience.The cast can't really do much with the material and deliver fairly average performances across the board. Merrill barks around the screen with a constant righteous indignation and hardline approach that didn't fully convince me the movie would have been more interesting if it had really delved into his hero in the method that it kept suggesting it would but never really did. Sterling is unconvincing and quite unnecessary like her emotional observations on Danforth are designed to replace the development of him as a character, and that the director just wanted us to know the boy in as easy a method as possible. Waltz is OK but Meyer is fairly stiff in his scenes and is too clearly an apologetic soft touch.Overall this is an OK movie with gritty material but far too straightforward a plot and foundation to really create for an interesting, complex storyline with no simple answers. Instead it gradually falls into a standard crime thriller plot and the manipulative and hardline hero of Danforth is just agreed without much thought or development. Considering how relevant it still is today it is a true shame it didn't do better but as it is it's a standard crime affair with nothing to really create it stand out from a crowded genre.
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