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  • "No drug-fevered brain could dream up the horrors of Cobra Island!" But, apparently, two Universal Script-writers could. This immortal camp classic stars the sublime Maria Montez as twin sisters - one Good, one Evil. Considering La Montez could not even play one part convincingly, her dual role is something of a stretch. She may not be able to act, but she does look gorgeous trying.

    The action takes place on one of those Technicolor South Sea islands where a volcano is always rumbling, gongs are always banging for the next human sacrifice and a supremely irritating chimpanzee is always gambolling about in a pair of Paisley-pattern diapers. Lon Chaney Jr is on hand as a deaf-mute priest. Lucky man, he doesn't have to speak any of that dialogue!

    As the aged Cobra Queen, Mary Nash looks a tad bewildered. Wasn't it only yesterday she was playing Katharine Hepburn's mother in The Philadelphia Story? Lo, how the mighty are fallen! Sabu beams away in his role as Hollywood's favourite racist/colonial stereotype. Jon Hall spends his time looking for excuses to unbutton his shirt and show off his muscular chest. I for one am not complaining.

    Still, nothing and nobody can ever upstage our Maria. As the depraved sister Naja, she writhes about wickedly in her Cobra Dance - clad only in a floor-length silver lame evening gown, with matching silver f**k-me shoes. (Uncharted this island may be, but every drag-queen in the world seems to go shopping there.) And lest we in the audience harbour any lingering doubts about her acting skills, she follows up every speech with the deathless words - "I HAVE SPOKEN!"

    The insipid good sister Tollea really is no match. In this part, Maria does little more than pose beside the nearest pond or palm-tree - gazing into the Technicolor sunset and dreaming of better scripts. (Believe it or not, Jean Cocteau offered her the role of Death in his film Orpheus, but couldn't afford her fee!) Yet it's fascinating to see director Robert Siodmak sketching out the schizo psychology he would explore fully in films like The Spiral Staircase and The Dark Mirror.

    Appalling as much of it undoubtedly is, Cobra Woman may still be the greatest film of its kind...and if anyone can work out what 'kind' that is, please write and tell me.
  • Released in 1944, COBRA WOMAN was precisely the sort of escapist fare demanded by audiences seeking relief from the horrors of World War II--and over the years it has become something of a cult classic, a wild and riotous mixture of outrageous sets and costumes, ridiculous plot and dialogue, and faintly absurd performances. If you are seeking a mindless romp with tremendous camp appeal, look no further: this film is the goods.

    Directed by Robert Siodmak, who go on to become a noted director of film noir, COBRA WOMAN concerns an innocent South Seas maiden (Maria Montez) who is to marry a sailor (Jon Hall)--but who is suddenly kidnapped and whisked off to Cobra Island, where she discovers she is actually the twin sister of the evil high priestess. Can Maria, Jon, a half-naked Sabu, a heavily made-up Lon Chaney Junior, and sarong-wearing monkey overthrow the evil priestess and return the island to peace? Well, maybe, if only Maria can lay hands on the priestess' cobra jewel! The plot is amusing in a silly sort of way, but it is really the style of the thing that makes it such a charming bit of fluff. The best way to describe it is as pure Hollywood: costumes and sets are a truly wild mixture of Arabia, the ancient Aztecs, South America, Carmen Miranda's hats, Dorothy Lamour's sarong, and Joan Crawford's shoulder pads, and Cobra Island comes complete with a bad special-effects volcano just for good measure.

    The cast plays with a mixture of sincerity and inadequacy that is very entertaining. Maria Montez was a great beauty of the era and she wears the brilliance of Technicolor like a second skin, and if she clearly wasn't known for either acting chops or dancing skills... well, let's see YOU say lines like "I want that cobra jewel" with a straight face or squirm around in a dress that must weigh a ton without falling off your heels! Jon Hall is appropriate American Male and Sabu is, well, Sabu, and as a friend of mine recently said, "What were expecting? Long Day's Journey Into Night?" No, you won't find any deep meanings here, and thank heaven for it. This purely for the fun of it with no artistic ambitions and as many wild colors as Universal Studios could throw on the screen. So put your brain on hold, grab your cobra jewel, and settle down for some purely mindless pleasure! Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
  • Might as well quote from the recent career article I wrote on MARIA MONTEZ, due for publication in CLASSIC IMAGES some time soon:

    "She began work in 1944 on a film requiring her to play twin sisters--usually a stretch for any actress but even more so for Maria Montez, whose acting ability had never really convinced anyone except diehard fans that she was up to performing solo. Nevertheless, she took it as a challenge to do "Cobra Woman" ('44) and ardent fans of the actress consider it their top "camp" favorite.

    She was so visible in "Cobra Woman" that it was impossible to ignore her still heavy accent, literally talking to herself on screen, as when she tells the Queen, "I have dee-cided to marry Martok and I dee-mand your consent." She played two opposite types, Naja, the evil Queen leading a tribe of snake worshippers, and Tollea, a simple, kind-hearted peasant girl.

    Only a few critics came to her rescue, one of whom was Lee Mortimer, N.Y. Daily Mirror: "If you were a producer with a cast of thousands, a corny tale, a stage-set volcano island, several reels of technicolor film and Miss Montez, what would you do? Probably what Universal did. Cast her in a double role. Undress her in both, as much as the law and Will Hays allow, and let nature take its course."

    Others were more inclined to simply state: "It has every known variety of corn." (Alton Cook, N.Y. World Telegram) Still, the sight of Montez in a twin role (one good, one bad) writhing in a weird sort of belly dance to King Cobra, selecting subjects with a wave of her hand to be sent to their death by volcanic fire, is something to behold. It was also noted that here her royal deportment was never on more display, strutting around her island domain with all of the natives at her beck and call.

    Despite the silliness of the script, it was directed (of all people) by Robert Siodmak, who would later demonstrate his skill in directing another actress in a more serious dual role at the same Universal studio--Olivia de Havilland in 'The Dark Mirror'."
  • This, for me at age 9, was not so much a film as an absolutely terrifying experience, the memory of which kept me awake at nights for weeks afterwards (seen on Tuesday 13 February 1945 at the Empire Cinema, Glossop). The jungle, the volcano with its flames reflecting on the faces of the actors, the snakes, the extraordinary and frightening costumes, the sinister drumming music, the bright colour with green costumes and orange flames, the terrifying and evil expression on the face of the Queen, Kado's blowpipe - all these made up a cocktail of complete terror, and I stayed in the cinema only because I was with friends and was ashamed to show my feelings. I was far too young to be aware of any niceties in the way of crudities of dialogue or acting technique, and the whole thing was simply an unbelievable cinema experience, which can never, never be forgotten. What a shame if this remarkable creation is lost to us for ever!
  • Priceless camp. Deliriously gratifying good-twin/evil-twin struggle for religious power (for good or evil) over isolated island kingdom. Forties movie morality at its most unreal. Evil (i.e. sexy) twin's cooch-dance causes death. Good twin's frigid immobility brings life and, as one giddy handmaiden in nylon veils cries, freedom to "worship as we choose!" Narcissistic Maria Montez obviously adores playing with herself, and makes both twins florid and fruity. I'd love to have a VIDEO or SCRIPT of this eye-popping, unique hallucination. Sample of style: When the island rumbles from volcanic activity, someone always mutters, "Fire mountain angry!"
  • Cobra Woman was directed by Robert Siodmak just as he was embarking on his peerless string of black pearls: Phantom Lady, Christmas Holiday, The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The Suspect, The Spiral Staircase, The Killers, The Dark Mirror, Cry of The City, Criss Cross and The File on Thelma Jordon. And that's a bitter pill to swallow.

    The movie harks back to styles of moviemaking which the noir cycle, which Siodmak was so instrumental in creating, was putting blessedly to rest: To Saturday-matinee serials and boys' stories like Treasure Island, to South Seas excursions like Rain and Red Dirt and White Cargo, to gaudy, escapist musicals. And yet Cobra Woman achieves an almost solitary stature; only Vincente Minnelli's Yolanda and The Thief, from the following year, challenges its reputation as a movie so wildly overblown it's unhinged.

    There's little point in rehashing the plot, which centers on twins separated at birth: Tollea, a sweet native girl engaged to marry an American; and Naja, high-priestess of a snake cult that practices human sacrifice. Rightful heir Tollea is kidnaped so she can depose her evil sister and placate the Fire Mountain (a cheesy back-lot volcano). Supporting parts are taken by Jon Hall, Lon Chaney, Jr., Sabu and a loinclothed chimpanzee.

    A thickly-accented native of the Dominican Republic, Maria Montez plays, sensibly, both twins (giving Siodmak good practice for Olivia De Havilland's similar dual role in The Dark Mirror). Cobra Island, her domain, in its outlandish costumes and grandiose sets, puts to shame those elephants-and-all productions of Aida staged in the Baths of Caracalla; this Technicolor nightmare gives a sneak-preview, in its prurient take on pagan excess, the cycle of Biblical epics that were just down the road for Hollywood.

    But neither Cecil B. DeMille (in Samson and Delilah) nor Douglas Sirk (in Sign of the Pagan) nor Michael Curtiz (in The Egyptian) – nor even, for that matter, Minnelli (though he came closest) – could rival Siodmak's big set-piece: Naja/Montez performing the Cobra Dance. Clad in a snake-scale gown, she shimmies awkwardly for His Undulating Majesty himself, King Cobra, until he strikes at her (a mating gesture? Reptiles can be so ambiguous). She erupts into a frenzied spasm, hurling accusatory fingers at sacrificial victims who will then be made to climb the Thousand Steps to the angry maw of Fire Mountain.

    It would be reassuring to write off Cobra Woman as some sort of failed allegory, about Fifth Columnists, or Free French vs. Vichy, or something; but no such evidence exists. The movie is what it is, and utterly astonishing.
  • Must be seen to be believed. This is a classic! The cobra dance will have you on the floor, guaranteed. Note that the deus ex machina is a chimpanzee. Fabulous performance by Maria Montez as good and evil twins with able support from Sabu, John Hall, and the old lady who plays Maria's grandmother. "Joo meen, Joo arre my grandmother!" Favorite moments: Bad twin's procession to the bathing site, all scenes with Sabu, "the Fire Death Hymn". But NOTHING can top the cobra dance. And you'll love the headwear. Don't miss it!
  • COBRA WOMAN (Universal, 1944), directed by Robert Siodmak, is the fourth Technicolor adventure pairing Maria Montez and Jon Hall, in not only their best known movie, but has been labeled a top "camp" favorite among Montez fans. It is also regarded the movie so awful that it's totally impossible not to dislike. A statement to that affect was once said by actor Roddy McDowall in a TV interview back in the early 1990s on the American Movie Classics cable channel in an interview opposite host Professor Richard Brown.

    The story begins on the day of the marriage of Tollea (Maria Montez) to Ramu (Jon Hall). Tollea is kidnapped by the Cobra people, a tribe of snake worshipers, and taken to Cobra Island where she learns from the Queen (Mary Nash) that she is actually the older twin sister of Princess Naja (Montez), the island's wicked High Priestess. The Queen wants Tollea to assume the rightful place as High Priestess and to bring an end to her evil twin's cruel reign. Easier said than done! In the meantime, Ramu learns of what has happened to Tollea and he decides to rescue his beloved from Cobra Island. Ramu is accompanied by his young native friend, Kado (Sabu), who not only tries to help his friend out of trouble, but gets into trouble himself.

    While the accented Maria Montez assumes two roles, it appears that most of the footage in this 70 minute adventure goes to Indian boy, Sabu, along with his pet monkey, Koko, each adding some "comedy" relief to the plot. Unlike most South Seas tales of jungle movies of that era, which find many of the central male characters wearing only loincloth, like Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan, for example, Sabu, as in many of his previous prime adventure films, including the timeless classics of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (UA, 1940) and THE JUNGLE BOOK (UA, 1942), appears bare-chested and wearing only a trim white bathing suit that might have been a rental from a Hollywood beach club. Although a young man in his late teens or early 20s, Sabu's screen character appears more child-like, a role that might have been more suited possibly to a younger actor, particularly when he finds Ramu's love making Tollea a lot of nonsense. Always assisting Ramu (Hall), Kado saves his life in one scene by using his trusty blow pipe with darts to eliminate an attacking wildcat. In good faith, Kado later comes to Ramu's rescue once again by trying to free him from being held prisoner in a dungeon, only to find that Ramu has already escaped and placed the evil Martok (Edgar Barrier), Naja's minister of affairs, in his place. Because Kado is unable to tell him the whereabouts of the escaped Ramu, Martok gives orders to his guards to have Kado suffer tree torture (the torture which is described by native girl, Veda (Lois Collier) to Ramu as, "Boy's hands tie high on tree, feet tie low on ground. Tree stand up, stretch little fellow") until he confesses.

    Special screen credit in the opening and closing cast list goes to Lon Chaney Jr., Universal's resident screen actor of horror, taking time off from playing The Wolf Man, Klaris, the living mummy, and character leads in six "Inner Sanctum" mysteries (1943-1945). Chaney plays Hava, a muted beer-belly servant to the island ruler, who becomes Kado's rescuer from his tree torture after learning of the lad's predicament from the monkey, Koko (Yes, the monkey and the mute communicate!); Also in the supporting cast are Samuel S. Hinds as Father Paul, who, in the opening of the story, relates the legend of Cobra Island; with Moroni Olson and Fritz Leiber appearing in smaller roles.

    Aside from the unheard of character names used in this screenplay, it's obvious that any movie like this cannot be taken seriously. Other than that, the plot consists of some inane dialog spoken by Sabu, Montez and other actors throughout. Montez gets to highlight the story with her snake dancing, accompanied by exotic music along with gongs banging in the background from time to time. Occasionally, it's hard not to laugh at Montez's portrayal of the evil sister, which consists of her sending her sacrificial victims into a volcano, or using her whip while going into a frenzy of passion. As for tropical romance, Hall and Montez even get to have an underwater kissing scene together - but which sister is he kissing?

    Yes, COBRA WOMAN all has these ingredients and more. Maybe that's why it has become a Maria Montez favorite for so long. Montez would appear in other adventure tales through the duration of the 1940s, a few more opposite Jon Hall, but none as memorable as this. Sadly, Montez died at the age of 31 in 1951. As for Hall, his best screen opportunity, being Samuel Goldwyn's THE HURRICANE (UA, 1937), opposite Dorothy Lamour, was behind him. More forgettable adventure films were ahead of him.

    As popular as COBRA WOMAN has become over the years, especially with frequent television revivals on local television from the 1960s to the 1980s, to date, it has yet to be distributed on video cassette or DVD. It has been revived more than any of the five (out of six) Montez and Hall adventures on cable's American Movie Classics, where it premiered in February of 1995. For the record, WHITE SAVAGE (1943) is among the neglected. While the other Montez-Hall films have ceased airing on AMC, COBRA WOMAN has survived on that channel the longest. COBRA WOMAN was also presented on the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s during the very late hours of the night. But one question persists. What does this South Seas adventure story of COBRA WOMAN have to do with science fiction? (**1/2)
  • Yes, my summary is my favorite line from this fruity, eye-popping Technicolor extravaganza. I've been watching it on television (and now on VHS from AMC) for 30 years and never get tired of it. Only one question....what period is it supposed to be? The plot is pretty archaic, but our Maria is decked out in high-forties shoulder pads! And from what trading post did she get those Joan Crawford pumps? This film is a lulu and really defies description. One wonders if the original 1944 audiences took it seriously, or even then was it considered camp? Maria is constantly reminding her subjects of her status: "Yuuuu ferget, I am de high prrrriestess! I haf spokan!" Forget Julia Roberts, give me Maria and a bag of buttered popcorn on a rainy Saturday afternoon!
  • If the term Camp had never been created, then we'd have to come up with it to describe this deliriously awful, delightfully irresistible trash-masterpiece from the 1940s. Maria Montez (the queen of Camp) plays a pair of sisters, one good and one bad, who vie for control of a voodoo island. In dazzling color, the bad sister dances wildly as the natives all beg for pity, as they know that any one she happens to point to will be executed to satisfy her lust for blood. Jon Hall, later Ramar of the Jungle on TV, is the goodguy, with Sabu as his sidekick. Absolutely hypnotic in its chromotic silliness, and a must-see for all fans of films that truly are so bad that they're good.
  • I think most of the critics of this movie miss the point entirely. Many of the 1940s movie stars were "personalities," groomed by their studios not to be great "actors," and subsequently built vehicles around them. Maria Montez had enormous charisma on screen, and although many of the reviews above make fun of her accent (which would not be permitted today), try looking at anyone else when she is on the screen. It's a fun movie -- definitely not for elitist reviewers, whose taste is for serious "acting". The great thing about the Golden Age of Hollywood Movies is the variety of movies, something for everyone. Today, sadly, there is no more Hollywood. Just about every "film" today (with some exceptions obviously) looks like a TV sitcom. It must have been a fun experience to go into a movie theater in the 1940s and see an escaptist movie like "Cobra Woman" instead of today when (and I don't bother anymore) one goes into a theater to see a variety of dreary, "true life" stories, performed by the current crop of supposedly "great actors." It would be interesting to be around in 60 years or so to see if people would remember (or even care about) the movies of today, as opposed to "Cobra Woman," which people seem to enjoy making fun of. I give it a 10 out of 10, solely because it was made to entertain, and for me it did.
  • iamlarsx20 March 2001
    Oh, kids, this is the one to beat for pure camp ecstasy! (Okay, okay, maybe "The Oscar" is worse, but its pleasures are tawdrier) "Cobra Woman" has every dumb, boneheaded, low-budg, tacky genre cliche all in one swell package. If you haven't seen this, you just aren't as camp-hip as you think. "Gif me tha cob-dah jool!"
  • I once showed part of this film to a friend (now deceased.) who said testily that he'd seen it a long time ago. But once the Universal-International dancers' Cobra number got going, he said he was hooked and was literally rolling on the floor having forgotten how truly great it was! (This was, no doubt due to the consummate klutziness of these dancers!)

    One Maria is great but two are truly great and maybe she and her costar Jon Hall should have been cast in the infinitely greater "Thief of Bagdad" which did at least have Sabu. (Now maybe these two couldn't really act but then neither could the actual leading couple in "Thief".)

    A camp gem with the Queen of Technicolor.
  • This is an absolutely unashamed B-movie... and about as sophisticated as can be expected of any picture featuring a beautiful, wicked snake-priestess, human sacrifice into a volcano, good and evil twins separated in infancy, a gigantic mute assassin, a lost heir(ess), a cobra-worshipping cult and a pet ape wearing a skirt for decency! It's technicoloured in more ways than one -- this is the pulp fantasy material of boys' comic papers come to life, and wouldn't be out of place as a lost novel by Robert Howard or Rider Haggard. Just about everyone sports a bare midriff at the slightest provocation, most of the women spend the entire picture clad in a skimpy band of material round their top half, and Sabu wears next to nothing throughout thanks to a magnificent young physique.

    As the reader may have gathered, most of it is unabashed fun. There are a couple of suggestions that hint at something deeper: the idea that perhaps Tollea really ought to stay and improve life for her people instead of marrying her rescuer, for example (though the final outcome makes sense -- she was only ever herself a pawn in the hands of the would-be reformers, after all), and, despite the missionary upbringing of the main protagonists, an unexpected treatment of the cobra cult as a genuine religion, where offending the Powers can have consequences and people deserve to worship as they see fit.

    The special effects are rather better on the costume front than they are where dangerous items are concerned, although there is a brave attempt at showing an advancing lava front by merely illustrating its effects, which works surprisingly well. The dialogue veers wildly between pidgin and fluent English as spoken by the same character at different times (sometimes within the same speech) -- it would be nice to think that this reflected an attempt to show whether they are trying to communicate in English or addressing others in their own native tongue, but I suspect it wasn't thought out in that much detail! Otherwise, the main criticism I'd make is that the final fight goes on perceptibly too long and in too repetitive a way: it could, with advantage and with more credibility, have been cut by several minutes to provide a more explosive climax.

    But the film is thoroughly enjoyable for what it is. It has no pretensions to be anything more, and the characters generally look as if they're having a good time (when not being tortured, threatened with death, etc.) Sabu plays the hero's mischievous sidekick without a hint of embarrassment and tends to steal every scene in which he appears. Lon Chaney Jr has presence. Maria Montez plays a naive South Seas islander and a power-crazed priestess with aplomb and smoulders out of the screen (her snake dance in a scintillating costume is definitely a memorable scene).

    Jon Hall makes an engaging romantic lead, though the plot suggests that the character is perhaps more honest than bright: his approach is generally to walk straight into danger and hope that circumstances will work out in his favour. Occasionally they do (this is the sort of film, after all, where you can walk straight into the inner sanctums of the palace after changing clothes with a high official, and nobody so much as notices) but generally he needs rescuing from the consequences!

    I wouldn't actually describe this an unmissable camp classic, not because it's too bad but because it isn't. It's a perfectly good piece of entirely escapist entertainment which was never intended to be taken seriously, and while it has zero emotional depth it's easy on the eye.
  • 1943's "Cobra Woman" brought together two of Universal's biggest box office stars of the war years, Maria Montez and Lon Chaney, in a Technicolor extravaganza helmed by director Robert Siodmak, who proves better than his material by going at such a linear, fast paced clip that one simply goes along for the ride. So simple is its structure that it's no wonder that Montez fans consider it her masterpiece, for indeed no matter your disposition this one is tough to dislike. Chaney fans can only be disappointed however, for after starring in two of his greatest films, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" and Robert Siodmak's "Son of Dracula," he is sadly reduced here to a mute supporting role as Hava, powerful priest/bodyguard for Mary Nash's Queen, hoping that Tollea will save her people from the tyranny of evil twin sister Naja (both played by gorgeous Maria), whose immunity to the poisonous bite of the King Cobra makes her the all powerful ruler. Edgar Barrier's high priest supplies additional villainy, while the expected heroics of Jon Hall and Sabu include much leaping and jumping. It's pretty much Maria's show whenever she's on screen, and for my money her finest moment is the exotic dance performed for the cobra's benefit, exalted fodder for lovers of camp, but also a real showcase for her undiluted eroticism at its best. For Chaney, it was the only color film among his Universal credits of the decade, and an opportunity to pay tribute to his father in the opening scene, pretending to be a blind beggar while preventing Sabu from discovering his cleverly hidden instrument of death.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Maria Montez - the name conjures up Technicolored tropical islands, Arabian nights, exotic jungle maidens. She was definitely the true Queen of Technicolor during the 40s. She was the original "jetsetter", traveling the world. Of course she was originally a model but Hollywood had always been her goal and with her determination and her gigantic ego, she was going to make it. She thought she was the world's most beautiful woman. After meeting Orson Welles she remarked "He is as spectacular as I am"!!!! During a private showing of "Arabian Nights", she stopped the film, turned to the executives and asked - "Isn't that the most beautiful woman you have ever laid eyes on!!" If Deanna Durbin singlehandedly saved Universal Studios during the 30s, Maria Montez ran a close second. Her exotic Technicolor fantasies earned millions for Universal during the 40s.

    I don't know about being the most beautiful but she was extremely gorgeous and in "Cobra Woman", with its lush tropical settings, Technicolor and playing twins - one good, one evil - she had never been shown to better advantage. Her co-star was Jon Hall. He had already made several adventure films with Dorothy Lamour, who Maria Montez was about to displace as "sarong queen", so he was an ideal choice. Sabu completed the threesome this time (sometimes it was Turhan Bey) and was a welcome comedy relief.

    A strange blind??? peddler comes to the village just in time for the wedding of Ramu (Jon Hall) and the beautiful Tollea (Maria Montez). Before the wedding can take place Hava (Lon Chaney Jnr.) the beggar, has kidnapped Tollea and taken her back to her people at Cobra Island (she had been taken away as a baby). Ramu and Kado (Sabu) go to the island and search for her. She has been bought back to save the island from her sister's cruelty. Ramu bumps into the evil sister Naja while swimming but thinks it is Tollea. He is then captured. Kado, with his companion Koko, the chimp, comes across Hava, who leads him to Tollea.

    The costumes of Naja are unbelievably gorgeous. Poor Tollea spends the film in plain sarongs!! Naja's "Cobra Dance" has to be seen to be believed - she looks like she is enjoying herself so much - while picking young women to be put to death!!!! Tollea confronts Naja, who dies after a spectacular fall from a balcony. Tollea then dresses as the high priestess and impersonates Naja in the cobra dance.

    This is an amazingly rich and extravagant film in which no expense was spared. Richard Brooks, who went on to direct "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), "Elmer Gantry" (1960) and "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962) was given an early script writing credit for "Cobra Woman".

    Highly Recommended.
  • I simply couldn't stop laughing as I watched this, my first feature length exposure to Maria Montez. Every B-movie cliche is in full force, and that Cobra Dance is so far over the top it hits a new dimension of camp craziness. Anyone who calls the 40's Hollywood's "Golden Age" and bemoans that "they don't make movies like that any more" should see this, and realize that, for each "Casablanca", or "Gone with the Wind" made in the 40s, the same people made a dozen films like "COBRA WOMAN
  • This has to be one of the most hilarious bad films of all time. I gave it a 5: 1 for film but 10 for the fun (equals out to a 5). It has what was well on the way to becoming Maria's "stock company" Jon Hall, Sabu and Turhan Bey (except Cobra Woman was without Turhan Bey). Mary Nash plays, I think, the high-priestess of the Cobra Temple or maybe even Maria's nanny(it's been a while since I saw it and it's not available on VHS or DVD so you must depend on the very occasional TV showings to catch it)with her very best Maria Ouspenskaya (the slowest taking woman on the screen...by the time she finished you either forget what she was talking about or no longer cared!). The 2 Marias actually appeared in one film together, The Mystery Of Marie Roget. Pity there were no more. Maria did a couple of films with the always over-the-top Gale Sondergaard. A great pairing. Montez is responsible for two of the funniest moments in screen history; one from SUDAN (again the stock company but less Sabu). Jon Hall discoveries her in the desert, dying from lack of water...BUT...her hair is perfectly coiffed and not a touch of makeup is out of place. (Old Hollywood...don't you just love it!) And the other is in Cobra Woman. After they have overthrown both the high priest and Maria's evil twin sister (is there any other kind?)the country is without a ruler. Nash pleads with her to take possession of the Cobra Throne but she refuses, preferring to go away with Hall and Sabu on their fishing boat. Nash (in her very best Ouspenskaya) says to her: "But mine chhhild, your peep-ole neeed 'chu" Then, without even changing the expression on her face (which she seldom did anyway) Maria turns to her and utters the unforgettable line: "Gif me dah Cob-bra Jo-ols." In my mind still one of the most fall-down-funny lines in the history of film.
  • Spurred on by the success of ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942; see my comments below), Universal reteamed its star trio of Jon Hall, Maria Montez and Sabu (but also villainous Edgar Barrier) in a handful of other exotic adventure pictures with this one, directed by German stylist Robert Siodmak, being the best-known. The latter had just scored a success at the same studio with the atmospheric SON OF Dracula (1943) – where Lon Chaney Jr. had donned the proverbial vampire cape – and he engaged the horror star yet again for COBRA WOMAN as the benign giant protector of the good Montez. The latter adjective is appropriate since the actress has a dual role of twin sisters – the rulers (one rightful, one usurper) of an island where the Cobra is worshipped as a deity!

    Jon Hall and Sabu are adventurers who reside in the mainland and, respectively, love and have befriended the good Montez (unaware of her royal lineage). The evil sibling had been tyrannically ruling over her people with a decidedly unwelcome penchant for sacrificing a great number of her subjects to the Cobra god; this springs Chaney into action who (dressed as a blind, pipe-playing beggar) kidnaps the good Montez in order to replace the deadly queen. Hall and Sabu do not waste time in following them to the island where they witness the latest fashion in 'snake–dancing'! These sequences which are aplently, despite the film's lean 71-minute duration, are both corny and embarrassing – never more so than when the King Cobra (real for the close-ups and a fake and hilariously overgrown one for the long-shots) is carried in a golden platter to do the honors personally!; the rubber snake shots here are about as bad (perhaps even more so) than the similar ones in Fritz Lang's latter-day entry into the exotic sub-genre, THE Indian TOMB (1959).

    The film is extremely handsome to look at and reasonably entertaining while it's on but, in hindsight, could have been a lot better and thus rather unworthy of both its director and considerable reputation as a camp classic; the late British critic Leslie Halliwell hit the nail squarely on the head, then, with his memorable assessment of it – "A monument of undiluted hokum"!
  • My parents went to see this movie when they were first married.(1944) The name Tollea was selected for me when I was born. And after all these years I finally got to see part of the movie COBRA WOMAN. I would like to purchase a good copy of this movie from some where. Of what I have got to see It was very interesting.I liked Maria Montez a lot a very exciting woman. Lon Chaney was a very young man at this time. I didn't think they could do double takes back at that time. Must have been the first time or close to the first time. I have read that Maria Montez was only 34 when she died. To bad she was around to give us lots more movies to share. Although she starred in many, I think I would have liked to have seen more resent movies. Thanks
  • To many, this film will seem pretty silly and insignificant. I admit it. But, for what it was, it was one of the best. This film was meant to be a silly escapist film--not a "big" movie but a B-movie meant to entertain the kids and adults alike. And, it was a major step up from the average B-western (which, after seeing a few, looked the same). And the audiences loved these silly, yet magical films. This happens to be one of my favorites. Before I even saw it, I saw a publicity photo of the very sultry Maria Montez as the Cobra Woman--dressed in a turban, evening gown and lounging across a giant cobra statue. Considering I was about 13 or so, I think I fell in love! I HAD to see this hot lady in the film! Well, when I finally located a video of it years later, I finally had my chance (though by then, I had found my own "Cobra Woman" and didn't have quite the same pressing need as when I was a teen). It was silly but intensely exciting--with lots of action, campiness and Jon Hall as the only man virile enough to tame this "she-beast"! I loved it and wanted to see it again--it was magical and just plain fun! See it and enjoy unless you are a super-sophisticated person. I love foreign films and art films but sometimes I just gotta have some mindless B-movie fun!
  • Even though this movie was somewhat kind of cheesy but the reason I was watch this movie cause I can't get enough of how beautiful Maria Montez is and it's too bad that she died at such a really young age cause she was the beautiful queen of technicolor.

    This movie is about Tollea and her fiance Ramu (Maria Montez and Jon Hall, respectivly) who are about to get married on their wedding day and Tollea is forced to go back home to her Cobra people to stop her cruel twin sister Naja's (also done by Maria Montez) wickedness and Ramu and his young buddy Kado (Sabu) go out and try to find her and Ramu mistook Naja as Tollea and as the Cobra law against strangers, they are executed and when the fire mountain gets angry, the people are sentenced to die without question.

    Overall if you love old cheesy technicolor movies then you should go watch this movie cause it is a clever way to spend 75 minutes of your time and it needs to be released on video and DVD, it's much better than watching most of today's junk. 8/10 stars
  • Technicolor adventure fantasy about the powerful queen of a cobra-worshipping cult at a far island located in the Pacific Ocean . Upon discovering his girlfiend, the adventurer Ramu : John Hall, learns that Tollea, Maria Montez, has been abducted. Then starring accompanied by his faithful friend Kado, Sabu, set out for the South Seas, at a strange island inhabited by natives who believe that a volcano can only be appeased with human sacrifices while worshiping the Cobra god .The weird sland is ruled over by Naja : Maria Montez herself, Tollea's sister twin, who governs the place tyranically, besides taking prisoner to Ramu. As evil Naja temptress of terror, desires to eliminate any contender, as she wants the throne for herself.

    Entertaining and fun adventure fantasy in Oriental style featuring the stars of Arabian Nights, in which inhabitants are frequently sacrificed in a bloody cult worshipping a Cobra God . It contains exotic scenaries, emotion, romance and impressive adventures. Features three usual protagonists of Oriental adventures : John Hall, Maria Montez and Sabu. Being well accompanied by a fine support cast as Mary Nash who is the actual but powerless Queen, Edgar Barrier as the nasty prime minister, Moroni Olsen and the usual actor of the Universal terror movies, Lon Chaney Jr, as a deaf-mute hunk. This theme about natives worshipping to an angry volcano god that requires human sacrifices has already been used in other films as Bird of Paradise 1951 by Delmer Daves with Debra Paget, Jeff Chandler, Louis Jourdan and an early version Bird of paradise by King Vidor with Joel McCrea, Dolores Del Rio.

    It pack colorful and brilliant cinematography in Technicolor by Howard Greene and George Robinson. The motion picture was professsionally directed by Robert Siodmak who had a long career .Robert was a good director who made a lot of films in all kinds of genres as Quick, Son of Dracula, Chistmas holydays, The strange affair of uncle Harry, The file of Thelma Jordan, The great sinner, The crimson pirate, The devil strikes at night, Custer of the west . Outstanding in Noir Film as Phantom lady, Criss cross, The suspect, The dark mirror, The killers, Cry of the city, among others. Rating 6/10. Acceptable and passable oriental adventure movie.
  • utgard1423 April 2020
    Fun bit of silliness from Universal starring Maria Montez and Jon Hall. The biggest selling point is attractive Montez in Technicolor. The adventure and fantasy of it all is nothing much to get worked up over. Hall does fine. He's like a poor man's Tyrone Power. Sabu stinks up the joint as usual. He had a likable screen presence for sure but his line delivery was always dreadful. Then there's good old Lon Chaney Jr. It never ceases to amaze me how he was used at Universal during this time. One movie he's a star and the next he's playing a henchman. The same year this was released he was starring in the Inner Sanctum series as well as reprising his signature role as Larry Talbot in House of Frankenstein and playing Kharis for the final time in The Mummy's Curse. He certainly deserved better than roles like this one. Speaking of deserving better, Robert Siodmak directed this the same year he made three legitimately great films for Universal. Directors today could never. The main reason Cobra Woman is remembered at all is for Montez's campy performance. It's the stuff of legend. See it for her and the wonderful sets and costumes all in beautiful Technicolor.
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