Untamed Women (1952)


Hello, everybody! It’s Pam, back with my first review of 2023. Better late than never. I wanted to review a movie I’d never seen before, and I was exploring Youtube when I came across this one. The title caught my eye immediately, and I’d never heard of it, but I just knew that it had to be a B movie. The first ten seconds confirmed this, as the opening credits showed it had been made by a production company I’d never heard of, and had actors I’d never heard of, with one exception. Almost at the bottom of the list of actors was the name “Lyle Talbot.” About 20 years before this movie was made, Lyle Talbot was a promising young actor in Hollywood, although he never became a big star. However, he continued to act regularly in supporting roles in some good movies, and later on some decent TV shows, so I was surprised to see him in something like this. How did he end up in a minor role in a cheap movie like this one? It seems that his career plan was to never turn down an offer for an acting job – not ever. According to IMDb, he appeared in some movies that were even worse than this one, including Plan 9 from Outer Space.

A look at the Wikipedia entry for this movie confirmed its B-movieness. I won’t give any spoilers here, but suffice it to say, whoever wrote the script let his imagination range free. The Phantom Empire was supposedly inspired by anesthetic-induced hallucinations, and I think something like that may have been responsible for this movie. I know you’re all dying to learn more, so let’s get on to the movie.

For all that Wikipedia has to say about this movie’s fantastic plot, it opens rather prosaically. The action begins at what we are told is the U.S. Army Medical Center in Jamie, Ohio. Not to my surprise, a quick search shows that there seems to be no such place. Two doctors are discussing a recent case where the unfortunate man suffered from a blood clot on his brain, which caused him to lose his memory. The patient’s doctor believes that the blood clot was caused either by a blow to the head or by an explosion. The doctor says that the patient was hallucinating and couldn’t speak clearly until he (the doctor) operated on him, after which the patient lapsed into unconsciousness and still hasn’t woken up. Fortunately help is at hand for the poor man: the doctor has a new serum that he thinks will restore his patient to normalcy. The patient’s hallucinations must have been quite something, because “Washington” is eagerly waiting to find out of the patient’s ramblings were strictly fantasy or if he was telling something that actually happened to him. To pique our interest even more, it turns out that the second man isn’t a doctor of medicine, he’s a professor of archaeology.


Love the hospital bed

It seems that the patient, whose name is Steve and who is a captain of some sort, isn’t completely unconscious. He can open his eyes, and he seems to understand what the doctor says, because he nods slightly when the doctor asks him if he wants to go ahead with the serum. The serum is ready and waiting, and the nurse promptly injects it.  Steve is still quite out of it, but with some prompting from the doctor, he manages to start counting backward from 100. The doctor also prompts Steve to “remember Lucy” and to “start from the day you took off for the mission.” And with that, Steve’s off to the past.

It seems that the mission was a bomber scout mission on May third, although Steve doesn’t mention the year or where this mission was located, except that it was over the Pacific Ocean. Steve’s flying the bomber, and “Lucy,” it turns out, is the name of the airplane. The crew spots an enemy cruiser on the ocean and starts dropping bombs, but the cruiser retaliates with some antiaircraft fire, so the events are probably taking place sometime during World War II.


Is this a B-17?


But the cockpit seems a little bare

The fire hits Lucy, wounding the copilot and damaging the plane enough so that Steve has to ditch it. I see no signs of land, and it doesn’t look good for Steve and his crew. But they bring Lucy safely down on the sea, and they take to the life rafts. The crew consists of five men, which I think was less than the normal crew for a B-17. However, this movie was clearly made on a shoestring, and it was certainly never meant to be a documentary, so I won’t quibble.

Bad luck hits the crew almost immediately. A storm blows up, they lose their compasses and most of their other equipment, and the copilot dies. Once the storm clears, they’re stuck on the raft, drifting aimlessly on the ocean. I’m sure you can all see where this is heading, even if Steve and his crew can’t.

Yep, they eventually spot an island and paddle up to it. Once ashore, they explore the island, which appears to be deserted. However, look closely – you can catch a glimpse of a woman’s face here and there through the vegetation. Steve and the boys are somewhat concerned, since they have no idea where they are, and they think this island might be held by the enemy. But, as Steve the stalwart leader points out, they really don’t have any choice, so they should all relax and get some sleep. I must point out that, unlike most movies including ones better than this one, Steve and his comrades aren’t immaculately groomed when they step off the life raft, but instead they’re badly in need of a shave, and their hair’s messy.

But their naps are rudely interrupted when Benny, the bombardier who has a pronounced Brooklyn accent and who tries very hard to be funny, wakens as a spear is thrust into the ground a couple of inches away from his head. The others are also surrounded by spears, held by scantily-clad and improbably well-coiffed young women.


Somewhat similar to Queen of Outer Space

The women march the men into a cave and stand guard outside to make them stay there. The men are wondering who the women are, when Steve mentions something odd that he noticed. The men all have pistols, but none of the women looked at them, as though they didn’t know what they were or that they could be a threat to them. The men have also noticed that there have been no signs of any other men, and Benny is bummed that in spite of that, the women don’t seem to be at all attracted to them. One of the other men says that the women don’t look like the natives of the other islands in this area. Steve says that the rock formations in the cave look odd. They also don’t know just where this island is located. They did manage to salvage a small radio, but they don’t think it has the range to reach anywhere. They are, in short, in a pickle.

It seems, though, that the women aren’t all work and no play. The next scene opens with a number of women dancing in a circle.


Stone Age dance party

The only music is provided by a couple of women beating drums.

Drum possibly Stone Age, hair not so much

It appears that this isle of women is not a democracy. The dance is interrupted by a woman wearing some jewelry and a cape, and this woman takes her place on a makeshift stone object that looks something like a throne.

Her Majesty

The Queen praises the women for capturing the men, throwing in “Ye” and “Thou” in a few places to denote the primitiveness of these women. She also mentions that like these men, other men came from the sea in the past and killed off all of the men of the island and kidnapped the grown women, leaving only the young girls, which is why this island’s population consists only of younger women. The Queen evidently believes in stopping trouble before it starts, for she says that these new men must be killed. One of the girls, who seems to be able to reason a little better than the Queen, points out that they need some men or their tribe will die out. Another girl says that their laws require that the men be given a fair trial. During this discussion, we learn that the Queen’s ancient, exotic name is Sandra.

The Queen assents, and the men are brought out of the cave. The girls have resumed dancing. They’re all smiling, and it looks as though they’re glad to see the men. The men like what they see, too. I had assumed that when the Queen spoke in English, we were to assume that, as is usual in this type of B-movie, that she wasn’t really speaking in English but was actually speaking in some primitive language that was understood by the outsiders in some implausible way. However, Benny remarks with some surprise that the Queen spoke in English, so this must mean that somehow these women have come into contact with English speakers. It would have been American English speakers – all the women have American accents.

And any contact must not have been recently. When Steve tells the Queen that they’re a bomber crew from the United States, she doesn’t know what a bomber is and has never heard of the United States. The women, even the guards who have been hostile until now, find the men’s efforts to explain very amusing. However, the men are unable to make the Queen understand anything other than they’re warriors who kill and destroy, and she orders them to be taken back to the cave.

The girls seem to have been more favorably impressed with the men than the Queen was, and they again point out that if they don’t get some men, their tribe won’t survive. The Queen says that there are only four men and quite a number of tribeswomen, and she wants to know how the men are to be handed out. One girl suggests a lottery, and the Queen seems agreeable to this. If you were thinking that the girls will be taking turns with the men, you were wrong. The intention is matrimony, the four lucky winners will each be married to one of the men. This movie was made for a general audience in the early 1950s, after all.

The men are now back in the cave and don’t know about the discussion, but Benny, at least, seems likely to prove amenable. (I must point out that their beards seem to have become noticeably thicker during the walk back to the cave. As the movie progresses, their beards will continue to vary from light to dark, and sometimes sections of a man’s beard are darker than other sections.) One of the men points out that the stone object the Queen was standing on bears some resemblance to a sacrificial altar. The other men realize that this is true, and the general atmosphere is becoming rather gloomy when none other than the Queen herself appears at the cave.

She sends away the guards, and unexpectedly pulls out a knife and cuts the ropes that have been tying the men's hands. Not only that, she tells them to follow her out of the cave. What is this? Up until now, the Queen seemed hostile. Has she decided to take her pick of the men before letting the other girls have a crack at them?

It doesn’t appear so. She leads them a good distance away from the cave, through vegetation that is so obviously not that of an island in the South Pacific, and shows them a route out of the valley where she and the girls live. Before they go, she informs the men that she and the girls are descendants of Druids. When Steve points out that in that case she’s a little far from home, she claims that her ancestors fled from the Romans and ended up on this island. Okay. She refuses to say any more and walks off, leaving them to decide what they’ll do next.

I must give this movie credit. It’s certainly not one of the best movies ever made, but I haven’t been bored, and right now I’m quite curious to see what happens next.

So the men are out in the wilderness, walking. They’re a little suspicious about how easily the Queen let them go, but they think it’s better to keep on walking than to hang around the women’s village, so they keep on going. But after a short time, they hear loud grunts ahead.



The men decide to detour around this, but a mastodon decides he’s coming after them. The men try shooting at it, but not surprisingly their pistols don’t stop it. However, the men manage to outrun it through the rocky, hilly terrain. They pause for a rest, and there’s some debate about whether to keep on going this way or go back to the women, but the general consensus is that mastodons and dinosaurs are safer to be around than the women, so they push on. They have a couple of close encounters with other prehistoric creatures, but the men manage to avoid them, until…disaster strikes! One of the crewmen bumps into a plant, which retaliates by:

Help! Man attacked by paper!

Alarming, no? Anyway, the three men rush to the assistance of their comrade, and Steve immediately recognizes the man’s attacker as a flesh-eating plant. Steve draws his pocketknife and stabs the plant in its stem, which convinces the plant to release its captive. The man is unharmed, but everybody is discouraged by the prospect of walking into more unknown hazards. So they decide that better the devil they know, and they turn around and head back to the women. Except for a brief incident where Benny is treed by a giant horned armadillo, the men make it back without much trouble. Just before they get back to the women’s territory, they have to climb rocks to escape a giant lizard. It appears that the actors actually did climb the rocks, which looks rather dangerous. In addition, they fire their pistols at both the armadillo and the lizard, causing them to use up a lot of their ammunition.

But not to worry, help is on the way. The women hear the gunshots, and they race to the men’s aid. The women roll large rocks off the cliff and onto the lizard, which promptly succumbs. The men are brought back to the women’s camp, and the men seem happier to be there now than they were before.


This is the life

Just as Steve is waking up and Benny is demanding more attention from the women, the other two men show up with some things they’ve salvaged from the lifeboat - including a razor, much to Steve’s delight. (Razor? On a lifeboat? Does anybody out there know if the Army Air Force stocked its lifeboats with razors?)

The women tell the men that Sandra has forgiven them for trying to escape, but the men are a little peeved with Sandra, because they think she deliberately directed them into the area where the dinosaurs prowled. Sandra apologizes to them and again tells them about the men who came from the sea, killed off all the men and kidnapped the grown women. She and the other women are left on the island only because she had taken the young girls to the mountains to teach them “the wisdom of our ancestors” to prepare them for marriage. She mistrusted these men at first, but now she has decided that they can stay in the village, but only if they don’t talk to any of the women. We’ll see how well that works out.

We’re treated to a few scenes of the women going about their daily chores. The men are trying to pick up something on the emergency radio from the lifeboat, when up walk three of the women. They proceed to get acquainted with three of the men, with Steve being the odd man out. Sweet background music is playing, and all seems well with these people, but…oh, no! What is this? A group of spear-carrying bearded men is approaching!


Who might these intruders be?

All of the guys, now freshly shaved thanks to the emergency razor, are busy sweet-talking their girls, when in marches an angry Sandra, accompanied by several women armed with spears. By this time, Steve has a girl, too. You’ll remember that Sandra had told the men that they were not to talk to any of the women, and she is quite angry to see them all fraternizing. Steve’s girl speaks up and tells Sandra that it was the women who disobeyed and talked to the men. Steve is gallantly asserting that it wasn’t the women’s fault, it was the men's, when just then the intruders arrive.

These men are indeed very hairy, and they’re dressed in Fred-Flintstone-like tunics. It seems that these men also want women. They grab several and carry them off, but Sandra, her warriors, and the men run to the rescue. Steve and his boys shoot, killing several of the intruders, while Sandra and her girls hang back. Sandra is actually quite grateful, but Steve feels that the “hairy men” will be back, and he tells Sandra to take the women and go to their temple, which is located in the mountains, while he and his boys stay to fight off the intruders. I’m somewhat concerned about the amount of ammunition they have left. I don’t know anything about pistols and don’t know how many bullets each pistol of theirs holds, but they’ve all fired their pistols several times, both at the dinosaurs and at the hairy men, and there’s been no sign that they have any more ammunition than what’s in their pistols.

Fortunately for the women, I seem to be wrong about the ammunition, as in the next scene they’ve managed to find bullets from somewhere and are loading them into what are unmistakably…revolvers? Really? Were revolvers issued to bomber crews during World War II? I have no idea.

Before Sandra follows the girls to the mountain temple, she stops in to see the boys. She tries to give her necklace to Steve, saying that he deserves it because he’s the leader who’s going to save them, but he nobly if gruffly tells her to keep it and to get to the temple where she’ll be safe. Off she goes, but she’s waited a little too long. The hairy men have gathered on rocks above the path, and one of them throws a spear and hits her in the back. Her scream brings the boys, who find her lying on the ground with just enough life left in her to whisper to Steve that he’s the leader of the tribe now and he’s to take her necklace. This time he does, and as she expires, a volcano erupts in the background. Oddly, the hairy men have disappeared. I don’t know why they killed her instead of capturing her, but maybe she was a little too old for them? Even more oddly, I’m genuinely anxious to find out what happens next.

However, the next scene reveals the hairy men running around with their spears while the boys shoot at them. The boys are killing a lot of the hairy men, although a hairy man does manage to kill one of them with his spear. (None of the hairy men are bothering to take cover.) But I was right to be worried about the boys’ ammunition, because they’re beginning to run out of bullets.

Steve orders the two surviving men to take the life raft and leave the island. He’s going to find the girls and take care of them as best he can. The two men decide they’d rather stay on the island, and all three of them set off to find the girls. They reach them in the nick of time, just as a couple of hairy men are trying to capture one of the girls. The hairy men are promptly dispatched with two of the remaining bullets, and the girl proceeds to take them to the temple.

But all is not well with the other girls. Remember the erupting volcano? Well, the men are in sight of the temple, when another blast from the volcano sends a torrent of rocks that cover the temple and the girls. Steve decides that there’s no use looking for survivors, and he leads the other two men and the girl down to the beach. Or rather, he tries to, but the volcano keeps on blasting, and he’s the only one who makes it to the beach. The monsters and the hairy men also perish.

Steve is not in great shape when he gets to the beach, but he manages to pull the rubber life raft into the water and paddle away. Behind him, it appears that the entire island is being destroyed. Fortunately he is soon spotted by a plane flying overhead, and the next thing we know, we’re back where the movie started, with Steve in the hospital bed. They’re inclined to believe that Steve’s story is substantially true, as seismic activity was detected in that area at around the time Steve claimed the volcano erupted. Steve somehow managed to hang onto Sandra’s necklace, providing further corroboration. However, the doctor says that there was no trace of the island when they found Steve, so it looks as the last survivors of the Druids have all perished. I wonder about the hairy men, though. Nobody ever said where they came from.

I must say that this movie wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. True, from the Queen on down, the girls’ acting was universally awful. I imagine they were picked for their looks, not for their acting ability.  Also true, no explanation was given for how Druids made it to the South Pacific, why there were dinosaurs on the island, or who the hairy men were, but that’s par for the course for this kind of movie. Also, the title was misleading, as the women didn’t seem that untamed. They had certainly mastered the art of making the strapless bodice, and their hairdressing skills were excellent. Most of all, all of them managed to keep those short skirts and low-cut tops in place throughout all of the action.  But on the plus side, this movie wasn't predictable.  It kept me watching to see what would happen next.  In addition, it wasn't very long, so it didn't have time to get boring.


Does this look untamed to you?

One might suspect that the title was selected to make the movie sound racier than it actually was.  But overall, it’s not a bad little movie, and it managed to keep my interest during the just over an hour of run time.  You might want to watch it if you find yourself with an hour to kill, which is more than I can say for many of the movies MMT reviews.

Written in November 2023 by Pam Burda.


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