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Ingagi (1930) Poster

(1930)

Trivia

Although this a regarded as a "lost" film, the Library of Congress has confirmed (October 2016) that they have a 35mm print and have struck a dupe negative. Unfortunately, they have one of the Vitaphone prints without a set of the Vitaphone (sound) discs.
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The American Society of Mammalologists protested the film. They attempted to check the credentials of the two British explorers, Sir Hubert Winstead and Captain Daniel Swayne, with the British Embassy. They discovered that no such men existed.
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The producers were sued for their unauthorized use of footage from an authentic silent ethnographic film that had been released about 15 years earlier. Some footage was purloined from footage shot in 1915 by Lady Grace Mackenzie; when this fact came to light, her son Byron P. Mackenzie sued the producers for the footage and was awarded $150,000 in damages.
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One axiom of the entertainment industry is "there is no such thing as bad publicity." All of the national negative publicity regarding the authenticity of this film resulted in it reportedly grossing about $4,000,000, an extraordinary gross, even for a major studio release in the early 1930's.
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Doubts about the authenticity of this "documentary" arose during the California previews when one of the "natives" was recognized as a black actress who was known at Central Casting.
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The new species of venomous reptile, the "Tortadillo," was actually a leopard tortoise with scales, wings and a tail attached.
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The "pygmies" shown in the film were actually black children, from five to ten years of age, in makeup, who were from the Los Angeles area.
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Hollywood's famed "gorilla performer," Charles Gemora, admitted that he played the gorilla in this film. Gemora had already played gorillas in about 10 films before this. He would continue to play gorillas, and perform in other monster costumes, until the late 1950s.
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Some of the native women were reportedly played by white actresses in blackface.
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The title "Ingagi" was supposedly an African word for gorilla. No such word was found in any African language.
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The outrage over the film grew to the point where the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation. Their findings were that much of the film had been faked and that the "best scenes" had been filmed at the Los Angeles Zoo. They also concluded that the two British explorers, Sir Hubert Winstead and Captain Daniel Swayne, "were both fictitious persons not existing in fact."
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This film was released during the industry's transition to sound-on-film. To accommodate those exhibitors who had not installed the new sound equipment, this film was also released in Vitaphone with the sound on separate discs.
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The New York Better Business Bureau investigated the film and reported that the gorilla footage had been faked.
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Ingagi spawned a handful of other "gorilla-and-the-maiden films," including possibly King Kong (1933), that perpetuated racist and colonialist notions of Africa. They didn't show sex scenes but they show the gorillas carrying the women away, and in most cases, the women don't complain about that.
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Reportedly a copy of most of the original Vitaphone (sound) discs survive, but the film itself is considered lost.
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This was supposedly a record of a 1926 expedition led by British explorers "Sir Hubert Winstead" and "Captain Daniel Swayne."
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Despite its huge financial success, and its notoriety, there are no known surviving prints of this film in existence (2016). It is assumed that the original nitrate elements have long since deteriorated.
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