Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Bridge in the Jungle (1971)

Here’s one of cinema’s stranger footnotes. More than 20 years after directing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), John Huston participated in another adaptation of a novel by B. Traven. Yet this time Huston’s involvement was limited to acting, and that’s where the connections between the two films end, despite claims in online and print sources that The Bridge in the Jungle is a sequel to Sierra Madre. It is not. The Bridge in the Jungle tells two stories that intersect awkwardly. First the picture follows Gales (Charles Robinson), an alcoholic hunter who ventures into more and more dangerous areas to claim valuable crocodile hides. He encounters Sleigh (Huston), an American expat who settled in a small Mexican village, and it emerges that Gales is on a revenge mission. Just when this storyline starts cooking, The Bridge in the Jungle lurches into a separate plot about a young Mexican mother fretting over the disappearance and possible drowning of her son. Huh? Writer, producer, and director Pancho Kohner captures lots of local color, but he’s inhibited by the meandering narrative and by an overreliance on amateurish actors. The latter problem is exacerbated by the presence of old pros Huston and Katy Jurado. Worse, the entertainment value of watching Huston growl crotchety dialogue (“You crocodile hunters are a seedy, ignorant bunch”) wears off once it becomes clear his character is tangential at best. As a result of its myriad storytelling problems, the movie carries an unpleasant aroma of pointlessness, even though the technical execution is fine.

The Bridge in the Jungle: LAME


Peter L. Winkler said...

Pancho Kohner is the son of Paul Kohner, who was once a big Hollywood agent who represented some major talents. I suspect that Huston and Jurado were returning some favors to Pancho's dad by appearing in this film.

By Peter Hanson said...

Makes sense. Kohner also scored big names for his second (and last) directorial effort, "Mr. Sycamore." Looks as if he later found his calling as producer -- lots of Bronson stuff, then lots of kiddie entertainment. Interesting-ish career.

D said...

Pancho was also Susan Kohner's brother and she is the mother of filmmakers Chris and Paul Wietz.