The Naked Prey

The Naked Prey. Speaking of chase movies stripped down to loincloths… This one was inspired by the true(ish?) story of John Colter’s escape from the Blackfeet in 1809, but it’s set in the African savannah somewhere. A safari trip goes wrong because the financial backer is a jackass and Cornel Wilde, the guide who’s been there enough to pick up a few languages, ends up running from the locals. It’s pulpy popcorn stuff, but there’s an interesting balance in how everything is portrayed. This is not the Africa with the sunsets and acacia trees and newborn knock-kneed giraffes. This is the dusty, thorny one with all the snakes. Neither hunters nor prey are acting all that honorably or dishonorably, they’ve just been reduced and everyone’s running on instinct and resourcefulness. Ebert didn’t like it much, for fair reasons that seem to related to having scene this kind of absurd stuff before, but I think that non-realistic ≠ non-enjoyable. The script could probably fit on a page or two. The soundtrack is almost entirely percussion. Plot aside, there’s some really great nature interludes that reminded me of how much I loved wildlife film when I was a kid.