The Naked Prey - 1965

Cornel Wilde stars in and directed this small scale (but still quite epic) movie about a colonial era English hunting party in Africa that casually insults a local tribe who then exact a horrible recompense for the bad behavior. Cornel Wilde is known only as "Man" in this mostly wordless story. He is a safari guide who cautions the Englishmen to be respectful and friendly, advice that is completely spurned. After the other members of the party are slain,"Man" is set free to dash for freedom while being hunted by a band of the tribe's best lion hunters. It is meant as only a simple "game" to finish off the last of the offending safari, but Wilde's 'Man' is a seasoned veteran of the land and resourceful, and he leads the group of lion-hunters on a massive cross-country chase with interactions with a variety of lethal wildlife, slave-raiders, warring tribal groups, and through an often desolate and foodless landscape. Categorized in a variety of ways in film literature, and usually considered the best of Wilde's personal film projects, The Naked Prey contains a paean to understanding, compassion and respect in between the brutality. There's not much dialogue, though we do get a slate of exuberant tribal songs and Wilde sort-of singing "little brown jug" accompanied by a young child (Bella Randles) he rescues from slavers who assault her village (and she in turn will rescue Man a bit later). There's nothing else like this film.


Page November 2018


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