Animal Attack Movies: Captive Wild Woman

(1943; directed by Edward Dmytryk)

Highly entertaining. Features a real fight between a lion and a tiger, plus tons of taming action by Clyde Beatty. The not-so-real gorilla, in both her original and semi-humanized form, strangles people. Nice detail: she does it so hard she severs their spinal cords. Interesting premise of hormones used to reshape flesh. (I can’t recall whether this exact mechanism is used in any version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, which is the obvious inspiration.) Speaking of hormones, a disturbing theme of this movie (and its two sequels, both far less fun) seems to be women doing evil by lusting above their class or race.  

The best part is John Carradine as the Moreau-like mad scientist. He’s so good I rank him with Marlon Brando as the 1996 version of Moreau; Charles Lawton as the 1932 version in Island of Lost Souls; Ernest Thesiger in The Bride of Frankenstein; and Peter Lorre in Mad Love.


  1. You wrote "Charles Laughton as the 1932 version in Island of Lost Souls..."
    For me, Laughton is the best cinematographic Moreau ever, and Island of Lost Souls is the best film version of Wells's novel. Laughton was a brilliant actor (especially as a villain) and a fine filmmaker: his "Night of the hunter" (1955) is a very good movie.

  2. I love Night of the Hunter! As for the versions of Moreau, it's hard for me to pick between Laughton and Brando. Both brilliant in different ways.

  3. I have to watch the three above-mentioned films, especially the first. I like Edward Dmytryk.

    1. I don't know too many of his films, but am a fan of his Western Warlock.

    2. Beautiful movie, with an amazing threesome: Fonda, Widmark, Quinn (plus the beautiful Dorothy Malone). I recommend you also to see other Dmytryck's notable works, as Crossfire (1947), Broken Lance (1954), The Young Lions (1958), Mirage (1965). I didn't watch his "The Devil Commands" (1941) yet, a horror in which Boris Karloff is a mad doctor.
      Question: did you see that film?

    3. Thanks for putting me onto The Devil Commands, Max. I hadn’t seen it, but I found it on Youtube and watched it this morning. Really nice noirish photography and direction, and of course I’m always glad to watch Karloff. A lot of it’s rain-washed and moody. Nice touches, like how when somebody breaks a door down, a little sliver of wood breaks off. I wish the science fiction premise were better developed, but overall, I enjoyed it and recommend it to you. I haven’t seen the others you mention, but will be interested to try them.

    4. I didn't know the film was available on Youtube. I have to watch it. I'm a Karloff fan too.


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