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Volume 7085

ERBzine Jungle Adventure Films Series

Liane, Jungle Goddess (1956)
Liane, das Mädchen aus dem Urwald (original title)
1h 28min | Adventure | October 1956 (West Germany)
The German original movie is online here:


An expedition headed by Hardy Kruger discovers blonde 16 year-old Liane revered as a goddess by a native tribe in the African jungle. The expedition returns her to Hamburg where she is welcomed by her grandfather, ship tycoon Von Amelongen. But she soon becomes the centre of a love quadrangle and a deadly tug-of-war over her grandfather's inheritance. 

Originally released in 1956, this film showed up in America in 1959, and gained instant notoriety due to the multiple topless shots of the young star. Consequently, it played primarily in "adult" and art theaters at the time, and has gained a certain mystique and a loyal following among cult movie buffs in more recent years.

Director: Eduard von Borsody
Writers: Anne Day-Helveg (novel), Thomas Fough (idea)
Script: Ernst von Salomon
Stars: Marion Michael, Hardy Krüger, Irene Galter

Marion Michael  ~  Liane
Hardy Krüger ~ Thoren
Irene Galter ~ Dr. Jacqueline Goddard 
Peter Mosbacher ~ Tibor Teleky
Rudolf Forster ~ Theo Amelongen
Reggie Nalder ~ Viktor Schöninck
Rolf von Nauckhoff ~ Prof. Danner
Edward Tierney (as Ed Tracy) ~ Kersten 
Reinhard Kolldehoff ~ Keller
Herbert Hübner ~ Justizrat Warmuth
Olga von Togni  ~ Alma
More Credits at IMDB


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Comparing Liane, Jungle Goddess to Sheena sheds some interesting light on the decline and all of the classic B-movie.

Liane, Jungle Goddess (Liane, das Mädchen aus dem Urwald) is a 1956 German production, and itís unashamedly a B-movie. It makes copious use of stock footage, it was made on a low budget and it cleaned up on the exploitation circuit. It made money because the jungle girl story provided the opportunity to have a cute German teenager running about the jungle (or at least a set dressed to look like a jungle) semi-naked or even, at times, completely naked. It was also successful because as well as titillation it provides a consistently entertaining little story.

The plot is simply a slight variation on the Tarzan story. A passenger liner sinks off the African coast, and one little girl survives and is brought up by an African tribe. Cut to a decade-and-a-half later and a team of German scientists studying something (we never really find out what it is theyíre studying) encounter a mysterious white girl swinging through the trees. This catches their attention. The fact that sheís virtually naked also helps to attract their attention. They have no idea who she is, but they decide to capture her in a net and take her back to Germany for further study!

The story becomes big news, and a Hamburg shipping magnate suspects that the jungle girl may be his grand-daughter Liane, believed drowned years earlier. If this is so, she stands to inherit a fortune, much to the displeasure of the old manís nephew who thought himself to be the sole heir. Several of the scientists have accompanied the girl back to Germany, and in the meantime the girl has fallen hopelessly in love with handsome young scientist Thoren (Hardy Krüger). Heís been trying to teach her the ways of civilisation, with very limited success.

It starts out as straight exploitation, with lots of topless African women and one topless white jungle girl. Then it switches gears, surprisingly successfully, and becomes a gently whimsical romantic comedy as it follows Lianeís misadventures in the modern world. Thereís a crime sub-plot involving the machinations of the old manís wicked nephew as he endeavours by assorted nefarious methods to hang on to the fortune that he believes is rightfully his. Thereís also a romantic sub-plot centred on the hopeless passion of the expeditionís female doctor for Thoren, and one of the male scientistís equally hopeless passion for her.

All these disparate elements come together rather well, mainly because the movie never tries too hard. Itís light entertainment, and doesnít try to be more than that. Like most German B-movies of that era it benefits from a very competent supporting cast, but its greatest asset is the charm of the two leads. Hardy Krüger is good-natured and slightly baffled, and thoroughly likeable. Itís the kind of role he was always able to carry off with ease. Even more of a plus is the 16-year-old Marion Michael as Liane. Compared to Tanya Roberts in Sheena she is much prettier and has an actual personality. And a very charming personality it is. Itís impossible not to like her. Whether Ms Michael was a great actress or not is difficult to gauge from a role such as this, but her acting is certainly more than adequate. We care what happens to Liane. And she has real chemistry with Hardy Krüger.

Director Eduard von Borsody doesnít let the pace drag at any point. Unexpectedly, for a 1956 German film, itís in colour. And like a proper jungle movie, it has all the wrong animals. There are South American toucans in the African treetops, and tribesmen wearing tiger-skins. The makers of Sheena foolishly went on location and so their movie has actual African animals in Africa, which spoils all the fun in this genre of movie. And Liane insists on taking her pet lion cub with her everywhere, which adds an extra cuteness factor.

The mix of gentle humour, romance and bare female flesh made this one a nice little earner in its day, and while Sheena has a very dated 80s quality to it Liane, Jungle Goddess remains fresh and is still thoroughly enjoyable. 

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