The Naked Prey (1965)


director: Cornel Wilde; screenwriters: Clint Johnsion/Don Peters; cinematographer: H.A.R. Thomson; editor: Roger Cherrill; music: Edwin Astley/Andrew Tracey/Cornel Wilde; cast: Cornel Wilde (Safari Manager), Gert Van Der Berg (Safari Financier), Ken Gampu (Native Chief), Patrick Mynhardt (Safari Overseer); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sven Persson/Cornel Wilde; Paramount; 1965)

“It’s far-fetched nonsense, with a penchant for delivering the bloodthirsty details.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cornel Wilde (“The Devil’s Hairpin”/”Sharks’ Treasure”/”Sword of Lancelot”) wears three hats (director, coproducer and star) in this pretentious but somewhat entertaining and very well-crafted boy’s adventure tale. It’s a variation on “The Most Dangerous Game,” and reminds one of those recent reality survivalist TV shows. Shot on location in South Africa helps greatly in setting the right atmosphere. It’s written by Clint Johnsion and Don Peters; Wilde, who produced it with his own company and bought the rights to the story, changed it from a western to an African tale set in 1840. There’s sparse dialogue, as almost the entire film consists of the athletic Wilde (former Olympic fencer) being pursued through the jungle by a tribe of natives.

Cornel Wilde is the white safari guide for his boorish unnamed client (Gert Van Der Berg). Not following the safari manager’s advice to give the local tribesmen some trinkets, the client insults the natives and pushes past them without offering the customary gifts for passing thru their territory. The safari party is then attacked in an ambush by the tribe and slaughtered. The three white men are saved for last, one is eaten by the cobras, another is enclosed in a clay pot and roasted alive over a fire, and Wilde is stripped and left without a weapon and turned loose in the bush country so he can be hunted for sport, as if he were a lion. What goes for fun in this tale, is watching Wilde vanquish his dedicated pursuers one at a time and struggle to survive in the jungle as six fierce lion hunters doggedly pursue.

It’s far-fetched nonsense, with a penchant for delivering the bloodthirsty details.