Noontime Nuggetz Special: Submitted For Your Consideration, The Jungle

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.

  • lastmonthsrent

    Damn right. Thanks for sharing this.

  • jrpettit
  • Secret Cinema

    THE JUNGLE is a wonderful and unique film, and has been appreciated around the world since its release in 1967. I don’t know when or how your friends “rediscovered” the film, but the Secret Cinema has played no small role in re-introducing the film to local audiences and beyond.

    We first showed it on September 11, 2004 (shown, as with all Secret Cinema presentations, using a real 16mm film print). That screening featured a post-film discussion with Harold Haskins and several ex-members of the 12th & Oxford Street gang in attendance. The event was covered by the Inquirer, City Paper, and WHYY-FM.

    A few years later, Secret Cinema labored behind the scenes to lobby for this unique film’s inclusion on the National Film Registry. THE JUNGLE was part of a program we presented at the 2008 Summer Symposium of Northeast Historic Films, where we knew several voting members of the NFR board would be in attendance. We later provided our 16mm print for a final pre-vote showing to the full NFR board, at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences screening room in Hollywood.

    These efforts bore fruit in the last week of 2009, when Librarian of Congress James Billington announced that THE JUNGLE was one of 25 films honored that year by the NFR.

    The National Film Registry story was carried by press around the world, but curiously, received NO coverage in Philadelphia. Nonetheless, we continued to spread the word in our own way, by again screening the film on September 11, 2010, in a program called “From Philadelphia with Love 2010: National Film Registry Edition.” Harold Haskins again honored us by attending the screening, and received warm applause for his pioneering work from a large audience.

    Jay Schwartz
    The Secret Cinema