Eleanor Parker stars as a mail-order bride to a lonely South American cocoa plantation farmer played by Charlton Heston. When she first meets her husband, she’s taken back by his brutish behavior. The two decide maybe marrying each other without ever meeting was probably a bad idea. But before Parker can catch the next boat out of the jungle, a 20-mile wide army of ants threatens the entire area — and brings our mismatched lovers together.
I’m all for a goofy, technicolor romantic adventure. And The Naked Jungle becomes just that in its second half when the jungle goes quiet and the coming insect horde is discovered. It’s fun watching Heston, Parker, and a large cast of extras light fires and blow up dams to combat the ants. And for a ’50s movie, the production values are pretty high, complete with grand sets, pyrotechnics and visual effects.
But then there’s the first half of the movie. What idiots would agree to a mail-order marriage like this? Even that I could forgive, though, if Charlton Heston weren’t such a complete asshole in this movie. He is so mean to Parker’s character, there’s no way she would stay with him. I found myself unable to empathize with either character. And despite long scenes of interaction together, no chemistry ever develops between the two.