Lure of the Wilderness

Lure of the Wilderness is a 1952 romantic adventure film directed by Jean Negulesco. The film, which was shot in Technicolor, is based on the 1941 novel Swamp Water by Vereen Bell,[2] and is a remake of the Jean Renoir's 1941 adaption of the novel featuring Walter Brennan in a smaller version of his leading role in the earlier film.

Lure of the Wilderness
Lure of the Wilderness poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byJean Negulesco
Story byLouis Lantz
Based on1941 novel "Swamp Water" by Vereen Bell
Produced byRobert L. Jacks
StarringJean Peters
Jeffrey Hunter
Constance Smith
Walter Brennan
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byBarbara McLean
Music byFranz Waxman
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 16, 1952 (1952-07-16)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2 million (US rentals)[1]

Although some shots are added of wildlife, in documentary style, the film has a very optimistic view of the range of local species: black panthers; water buffalo; crocodile (instead of alligator) and river otter. Moreover, whilst perhaps seen as a "love of wildlife" film at the time the main heroes do kill most of the wildlife so it would not be politically correct to modern eyes.


The film is set in the 1910s in Fargo, Georgia, near a dangerous swamp. Ben Tyler and his father Zack one day go into the swamp to search for two lost trappers. During an unsuccessful journey, Ben's dog Careless disappears while running after a deer. While looking for Careless, Ben is hit in the head by someone, and when he awakens, he finds himself captured by two people living feral: old Jim Harper and his fierce, aggressive but beautiful daughter, Laurie.

Ben recognizes Jim, who has been accused of a murder committed eight years ago. Fearing lynching, Jim and his daughter have since fled the nearby village to live in the wilderness. Jim admits to one killing, claiming it was done in self-defense, but insists that the other murder was committed by the vicious Longden brothers. Despite Laurie's clearly noticeable lack of trust in Ben, he believes the story of Jim and tells them he wants to return to the civilization to give them a fair trial.

The following days, Ben accompanies Jim and Laurie in their routine days, which includes hunting. In this period, Laurie's hostility towards Ben softens and they start feeling attracted to each other. During a short return to home, Ben outrages his father and fiancée Noreen by announcing he will soon go back into the swamp. Noreen announces she does not plan on waiting for him and that she will look for another beau. At a later dance, Noreen provokes a fight between Ben and Jack Doran, her date, and Ben eventually breaks off the engagement.

Noreen follows Ben to Laurie and finds out about her identity. She falsely claims to Laurie that Ben has betrayed the Harpers and she next tells the Longdens about Ben's interference with Jim and Laurie. As a revenge, the Longdens almost drown Ben and later try to find the Harpers to kill them, so the truth will not come out. Ben also goes into the swamp to warn Jim and Laurie, who initially do not believe his warnings until Ben becomes a target of the Longdens. After Jim is shot by one of them, Laurie sets a trap which kills one of the brothers and captures the other. In the end, the Harpers' name is cleared and they are finally able to return to the civilization, accompanied by Ben.



In September 1951, Debra Paget was set to star in the lead.[3]


  1. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. ^ Info "Screenplay Info for Lure of the Wilderness (1952)" Check |url= value (help). Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  3. ^ "Notes for Lure of the Wilderness (1952)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-03-12.

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