The Law of Contact

Perils of the Jungle (March 20, 1953)

Clyde Beatty in Perils of the Jungle

Released on March 20, 1953: Clyde Beattty battles the jungle and the bad guys to get wild animals for his circus.

Directed by George Blair

The Actors: Clyde Beatty (himself), Stanley Farrar (Grant), Phyllis Coates (Jo Carter), John Doucette (Gorman), Leonard Mudie (Grubbs), Joel Fluellen (Kenny), Roy Glenn (Korjah), Olaf Hytten (Mac), Tudor Owen (the Commissioner), Shelby Bacon (boy king).


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This movie reminds me of Sunday afternoons. When I was a young boy Sundays were special days, and mine usually included wild animals and thrilling adventures. Yes, I was a preacher's kid, and Sunday meant church in the morning and church in the evening . . . but in the afternoon, there was always adventure with wild animals! Sunday lunch/dinner usually included a roasted chicken or piece of fatty beef put into a 'roaster' that sat on the kitchen counter and plugged into the wall. It cooked all morning while we were in church, and when we got home mom would start cooking the potatoes and making a salad and vegetable for the luncheon feast. Soon we'd be sitting down to the roasted meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetable and a salad . . . . dad would pass around the loaf of Wonder Bread in the plastic bag that it was sold in. With a big grin on his face he would exhort us all to be careful not to break the 'fancy bread dish' as we took our slice of bread. But the wild animals were a supper time event on Sundays. Along about 5 or 6 in the afternoon mom would ask if I was hungry, and I was always hungry as a kid, so the answer was always 'yes.' She would make two mugs of hot tea, one for her and one for me. I would always toast a couple of pieces of bread, and slather generous portions of oleo on them, then a thick layer of peanut butter. I would fold the bread in half so that it would fit into the opening of the hot mug of tea, and dip it gently into the tea about an inch or so. Then I would quickly stick the tea-soaked peanut butter toast into my waiting mouth and enjoy the flavor combo, repeating the process until both slices of toast were gone. Then I would perch myself in front of the television set, and eagerly watch Marlin Perkins and the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Every week Perkins would take us to the wilds of Africa and show all sorts of exotic animals as they roamed the jungles. These adventures are still etched in my memory as some of the most exciting times of my childhood.

Clyde Beatty, born in Bainbridge, Ohio in 1903, got a job with a travelling circus taking care of the caged animals. He was so much 'in tune' with the animals that within a year he had his own wild animal act. By 1945 he had his own circus, and in 1958 he boasted the largest tent in the world for his circus. He made several motion pictures to capitalize on his popularity. His circus wouldn't appear near many smaller towns, and his movies made it possible for children from those towns to enjoy the thrill of wild animals. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and put plenty of warm melted butter on it and enjoy the wild animals of the jungle, and the man who tamed them.