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THE NAKED PREY (1966)


Arkadin
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Comes on Friday. Cornel Wilde stars as a Safari hunter in Africa who is the only remainder of his party after being slaughtered by a tribe they have disrespected. Wilde is given "The Lion's Chance" and sent naked and weaponless into the bush for the warriors to stalk (with only a ten second head start!).

 

A very interesting film with lots of undertones, The Naked Prey has recently enjoyed a Criterion release so we will have a great print. Don't miss this one!

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It seems I saw this film on network television many, many years ago! And the thing that stays with me the most is the violence depicted in it. Like the guy getting baked alive and stuff like that. On a different note, I think Cornell Wilde directed wrote and starred in this film. Am I correct?

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Yes. Wilde directed this film. Like you, I saw it many years ago so I am not the best person to ask info on this one. I am really looking forward to revisiting the film though, and possibly getting the DVD for the higher resolution picture.

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I saw him in a TV interview back in the '60s, maybe on the Carson show. He said that during one sequences where the natives were supposed to throw spears at him (but miss him, of course) one of the local natives thought the idea was to throw spears at him and actually hit him. He said one of the spears came really close to him.

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I saw him in a TV interview back in the '60s, maybe on the Carson show. He said that during one sequences where the natives were supposed to throw spears at him (but miss him, of course) one of the local natives thought the idea was to throw spears at him and actually hit him. He said one of the spears came really close to him.

 

That's right, blame it on the dumb savage. Wilde was the director, for chrissakes. He had a stunt co?rdinator to, well, co?rdinate these things and make sure that everyone, including the said "dumb savages," were on the same page. If he had been skewered by some Transvaal toothpick, it would've been as much his own bloody fault as if someone else been injured or killed on his set, but he'd never go on television and admit that, would he?

 

Wilde's little story is surely just that, something cooked up by some publicist to intrigue the movie-going public and persade them to slap down some hard-earned money for a ticket.

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The DVD's commentary track is interesting, but there are only two little 3-4 minute bonus features, each with Paul Giamanti as the host reading a tale of a similar event in the American West, and Paul's own childhood memories of seeing this film. I was hoping to hear from any of the surviving filmmakers but it's still a great film with Criterion's usual excellent restorations.

 

I always forget about the Muslim slavers showing up.

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I've always loved this picture and that great native musical soundtrack really rocked it. I've read somewhere that Cornel Wilde originally planned to play his part of the hunted in the complete nude. They actually began filming the chase scenes with Wilde wearing nothing but then the higher ups said he had to be wearing something! You can tell he is wearing a flesh-colored jock strap in the long shots until he dons a loin cloth. Wilde was known to be proud of his body and he had reason to. He was always a hunk. If they remake this, perhaps the studio will allow the main character to be what he's supposed to be--the naked prey.

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Yes, indeed, an excellent movie but alas somewhat mutiliated in today's screening. Kudos to TCM for showing it letterboxed but I compared it to my old pan & scan VHS tape and discovered that the sequence depicting the torture and killing of the colonial hunters was severely cut. Interestingly enough, this was not for reasons of violence but for nudity. We completely lost the torture and beating of one of the hunters but only because there were bare-breasted women in every shot. The latter were also cut from a relatively innocuous scene where they give food offerings to their king and their celebratory dance just prior to the firing of the arrow to mark the start of Cornel Wilde's hunt. Has anyone seen the Criterion release as I would like to know if it too has deleted these scenes before I shell out my $30?

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I'm so glad that someone else noticed the missing scene of the one hunter being tortured and killed. When I was watching it this afternoon, I thought I was imagining that and so I took out my copy that I taped off Cinemax and it was on there. It's a 96 minute version compared to the 92 minute version TCM showed. It's a pretty horrific death, almost as bad as the guy who's being covered in clay. The one hunter is tied up with his arms behind his back. He's only allowed to jump away from the tribe and when he stumbles, the villagers rush forward and start stabbing him with sticks. This scene is also intercut with shots of the guy being covered with clay.

 

In the TCM print, the clay sequence is presented as one long narrative. And from what I understand, the print with the deleted scene is the Criterion version.

 

I really didn't plan on watching this today because the two aforementioned scenes pretty much freak me out, but I wanted to see if it was a letterboxed print. And then I got sucked into the story and couldn't change the channel. It's a fantastic movie and I'm really glad that TCM showed it letterboxed. The scenery is beautiful.

 

One thing: perhaps people today would think that the hunters got what they deserved since they were shooting elephants for ivory. I know when my mother first saw it, she was pretty disgusted by the elephant killing and thought that the hunters should have been killed for it. Of course, this film was made in 1966 and I don't think there was such a thing as a pro-animal stance like there is today.

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We got the DVD in some time ago and I enjoyed watching it, but didn't remember the missing scenes until reading this thread. Pulling out the VHS version, though, I see what you mean. What a shame. I wonder why someone wasted ANY time editing this? Just slap it out in it's original widescreen and leave the editors at lunch - please! Oh well, I was hoping to say the inch of shelf space, but apparently like a few other films, I'll keep the Criterion DVD for one aspect, and the VHS for the other.

 

Oh, for a perfect world...

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What do you mean "keep the Criterion DVD for one aspect, and the VHS for the other"? The Criterion contains the missing scenes and looks great. The film TCM broadcast was the strangest thing - I've never seen a film with the opening credits and closing credits in Pan & Scan while the rest is shown letterbox.

 

--

Terry Wallace

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Thanks, Terry, for clearing that up. I will definitely get the Criterion release now. I also thought the combination of pan & scan was odd - it's usually the other way around, with widescreen credits and then a sudden cut to pan & scan (with a corresponding loss of focus) once the action starts.

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