Made in 1967 and awarded a Documentary Film Award at the Festival de Popoli, Italy, The Jungle is a short film made in Philly by Harold Haskins and the 12 & Oxford Film Corp. Our friends at Megawords re-discovered it a few years back through Temple University’s Urban Archives a few years back when they were compiling the excellent book of Philly proto-graffiti, Public Wall Writing In Philadelphia. (We mention this every so often, but it doesn’t get old: You should really check out that book, especially if you’re a fan of Old Weird Decrepit Gary Heidnik-era Philadelphia, and if you don’t follow Temple University’s Urban Archives on Facebook, you must hate this city and you should probably move.)
Shown in local schools during the 60s and 70s to discourage kids from joining neighborhood gangs, The Jungle is notable in that it used many actual gang members in its dramatizations of a rough-and-tumble life on the streets of 60s-era North Philadelphia. To today’s eye, the gangs seem almost quaint (are any street gangs today this AWESOME at doo-wop?), but our eyes couldn’t help but also wander to the surroundings, and the look and the feel of this part of the city in that time frame. It’s a whole different kind of desolate, and to be honest, a whole different kind of desperate. Also: North Philly kids really used to know how to dress.