Blake Heller

Created by Charles A. Wallace

Rough-and-tumble -- but always snappily attired -- SoCal trouble shooter BLAKE HELLER is hired by a consortium of oil company executives (no, it's not a Mitt Romney lookalike contest) to find out who's been picking off their geologists one by one, in The Money Jungle, an above-average low-budget flick from 1967. At stake is a potential ten billion dollar drilling deal off the Santa Barbara coast.

Is it one of the other petroleum companies gunning down the competition? Or is it an environmental group that's been protesting the deal?

It's all here: the big cars; the smirky, Rat Pack-era double-entendres; the almost squeaky clean, whites-only country club casting; the obligatory girls in bikinis. The film's got a cheesy/quirky quality to it that never quite gels and a seriously dated sixties vibe which may explain its obscurity, but does little to diminish - and probably contributes to -- its entertainment value when seen in retrospect.

Both the writer and director were primarliy known for their television work, and in fact The Money Jungle often feels like a made-for-TV movie. The cast itself is like a game of Trivial Pursuit: Hunky, slightly wooden John Ericson was the draw here, I guess, hot off playing Sam Bolt, Honey West's partner in the TV show which had just wrapped up the previous year. But Don Rickles is by far the most recognized name here -- he shows up in a relatively straight role as an oily corporate executive, and singer Lola Albright, another trivia question, gets to coo a couple of numbers as a trampy nightclub singer and ex-trophy wife of another of the oil barons.

FILMS

  • THE MONEY JUNGLE ..Watch it now
    (1967, Harold goldman Associates)
    95 minutes
    Written by Charles A. Wallace
    Directed by
    Francis D. Lyon
    Starring John Ericson as BLAKE HELLER
    Also starring Nehemiah Persoff, Lola Albright, Leslie Parrish, Don Rickles, Charles Drake, Kent Smith

Preliminary report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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