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Friday, February 6, 2015

Four Frightened People (1934)

When their ship is infested with the bubonic plague, four passengers flee the ship on a small boat to the Malayan coast: a spinster schoolteacher (Claudette Colbert), a society woman (Mary Boland), a radio journalist (William Gargan) and a shy chemist (Herbert Marshall). Once they land, they begin the trek through the jungle to get to civilization on the other side with only an inexperienced native guide (Leo Carrillo) to guide them. The guide's inexperience proves disastrous when they become lost. This is a change of pace from the usual epics (SIGN OF THE CROSS, CLEOPATRA, THE CRUSADES) that Cecil B. DeMille was directing around this time. It can't quite find the proper tone. Is it a comedy? An adventure film? A jungle romance? DeMille tosses them all into the batter and what we get is a schizophrenic film that never quite blends into something cohesive. It's loopy fun however. Boland attempting to teach planned parenthood to the jungle natives is amusing as is Colbert's spinster taking her hair down, her glasses off, taking nude waterfall showers (this was pre-code) and wearing garments made of plant leaves. No explanation of where she found the lipstick and eye shadow however. With Ethel Griffies, Nella Walker and Chris Pin Martin.

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