Skullduggery

Tagged: Film

Film (1970). Universal Pictures. Produced by Saul David. Directed by Gordon Douglas. Written by Nelson Gidding based on Les Animaux denaturés (1952; trans Rita Barisse as You Shall Know Them 1953; vt Borderline 1954; vt The Murder of the Missing Link 1958) by Vercors. Cast includes Susan Clark, Paul Hubschmid and Burt Reynolds. 105 minutes. Colour.

Adventurer Douglas Temple (Reynolds) guides a scientific expedition led by Dr Sybil Greame (Clark) into the deep jungles of Papua New Guinea. They discover a tribe of unusual beings which seem to be intermediate between humanity and apes (see Apes as Human) and are dubbed the Tropi. Before long the unethical developer Vancruysen (Hubschmid) is making plans to enslave and exploit the Tropi for his own gain. One of the creatures is apparently murdered, leading to a trial in which the central question is whether or not the Tropi are human with human rights. The final verdict favours Vancruysen, leaving viewers to expect an unhappy future for the Tropi.

Some sources say a longer version of Skullduggery exists which features more of the Tropi than the print usually presented today; cuts were presumably made in an effort to avoid offending certain religious groups. Reynolds was perhaps not the best choice for the male lead, as he seems somewhat out of place in a film dealing with such grim subject matter. [GSt]

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