The Wild Women of Wongo (1958)

One of only two movies that James L. Wolcott would direct — the other is a compilation film called The Best of Laurel and Hardy — this is one odd duck. It also features scenes that were, believe it or not, directed by his friend Tennessee Williams, who was on set and thought it’d be fun to try.

It’s shot inside Coral Castle, an oolite limestone structure that was built by one man, Edward Leedskalnin, who either used ley lines or reverse magnetism to move and carve numerous stones — all by himself — with several weighing multiple tons. Other movies shot there include Nude on the Moon and La Furia de Los Karatecas.

Mother Nature herself explains to us an experiment that she created with Father Time. On the island of Wongo, they made two tribes, the ugly and violent men and the gorgeous women. On the island of Goona, they did the exact opposite.

Now, the four tribes have come into contact with one another, as the brutish apes of Wongo have attacked the attractive men of Goona. That tribe sends their king’s son to seek help and he discovers the attractive women, who suddenly realize that they no longer have to settle for the grotesque men that their mothers and grandmothers once did.

Going against tradition has its downside, as the crocodile god of the people — played by stock footage — grows angry and demands their deaths. They rebel, defeat their opressors and make their way to Goona, just as the good looking men of the tribe are engaging in the ritual where they must survive weaponless in the jungle. The women easily defeat them and take them for husbands while the less good looking races find one another too.

The women of Wongo are played by Marie Goodhart, Michelle Lamarck, Val Phillips, Jo Elaine Wagner, Adrienne Bourbeau (not Adrienne Barbeau, who would have been 12 when this was filmed), Joyce Nizzari (Playboy Playmate of the Month for December 1958, who was photographed by Bunny Yeager and would serve as one of Hugh Hefner’s personal assistants in the 1990’s), Jean Hawkshaw, Mary Ane Webb and Candé Gerrard.

The women of Goona were played by Barbara Lee Babbitt, Bernadette, Elaine Krasher, Lillian Melek (Pagan Island), Iris Rautenberg and Roberta Wagner.

If you want to learn more about them — and this slice of strangeness — I recommend the Women of Wongo page.

I’m trying to think of what message that this is all trying to send and how it ties into our week of female-based societies when it really seems that this movie is all about outward appearance. It does have a talking parrot and lots of alligator wrestling, so it has that going for it.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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