Green Hell is a 1940 American jungle adventure film directed by James Whale, starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Bennett.
Green Hell was given a lavish production by Universal Pictures, which built a massive indoor jungle set on a sound stage. An Inca temple 125 feet high, 225 feet wide, and 45,000 square feet in area were constructed. Having spent a great deal of money on a film that turned out to be a critical and financial disaster, Universal used the set again, recycling it into an Egyptian temple for The Mummy's Hand (1940).
Whale made only one more completed film after this, the 1941 World War II romantic melodrama They Dare Not Love, starring George Brent, improbably cast as an exiled Austrian prince fighting the Nazis.
A group of adventurers journey deep into the South American jungle in search of ancient Incan treasure. A beautiful woman, brought to their camp by hired bearers, has come to join her husband, a newer member of the group, who was recently killed by hostile natives. As the months pass, jealousies and tempers flare as fights break out over the woman. The Incan treasure is eventually found but the treasure-seekers, now united by a common enemy, are about to be attacked by hordes of fierce natives armed with bows and poisoned arrows.Douglas Fairbanks Jr as Keith Brandon
Joan Bennett as Stephanie Richardson
John Howard as Hal Scott
George Sanders as Forrester
Alan Hale as Doctor Loren
George Bancroft 'Tex' Morgan
Vincent Price as David Richardson
Gene Garrick as Graham
Francis McDonald as Gracco
Ray Mala as Mala (as Ray Mala)
Peter Bronte as Santos
Lupita Tovar as Native Girl
The New York Times wrote, "every one keeps a stiff upper lip except Miss Bennett, who purses hers, and the youngest member of the expedition, who becomes hysterical and screams, "Oh, the monotony of it!" Monotony, egad! What a word for the best worst picture of the year!"; while The Radio Times wrote, "famously ludicrous jungle melodrama...Although capably staged in studio sets by James Whale and well enough cast...it is made unendurable by the dialogue and situations devised by former Oscar winner Frances Marion. As Vincent Price once said, "About five of the worst pictures ever made are all in this one picture"; Leonard Maltin called it "hokey but entertaining."
Douglas Fairbanks Jr said the film was "hell. Every jungle cliche was trotted out. Joanie Bennett says it remains her worst movie. I remember George Sanders saying he held his nose every time he had to say a line... [director James Whale had] just lost it. He didn't care about it at all."
A print and its trailer are preserved in the Library of Congress collection, Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation.