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Ismael Rodríguez and Hollywood

At the end of 1954, Ismael Rodríguez was involved in his first American project. It was a low-budget horror and adventure film to be shot in English and Spanish called Beast of Hollow Mountain. The film was co-directed by American Edward Nassour and written by Willis O'Brien, screenwriter of the famous King Kong (1933). In this film, set in the mythical town of Tepoztlán, Morelos, a prehistoric beast devastates the livestock of a village and terrorizes its inhabitants. Despite the complications of filming and the unpleasant experience with American investors, the Mexican director insisted on three more projects in the 1950s.

Following similar guidelines as Beast of Hollow Mountain, Ismael would produce and direct Daniel Boone Trail Blazer, a classic B-movie. The film was shot in August 1955 with co-direction by Albert C. Gannaway, images by Jack Draper, editing by Fernando Martinez, music by Raul Lavista, and the performances of Bruce Bennett as the protagonist, Lon Chaney Jr, Faron Young, Jacqueline Evans as the pioneer hero's wife, Freddy Fernández El Pichi, Eduardo Noriega, and Claudio Brook. Filmed in the wooded area of the Magdalena Contreras Delegation, this Western-style adventure film begins with the death of one of Daniel Boone's sons. The protagonist strives to maintain peace instead of seeking vengeance. It is a portrait of the struggle of the pioneers led by Boone, threatened by hostile Indians. This is after the betrayal of a Frenchman who jeopardizes the peace between the settlers and the Indians, with some good scenes of violent action. By the way, the film had problems in the United States since it was to be filmed in Kentucky and the foreign producers decided to save money by filming in our country.

After Daniel Boone Trail Blazer, Ismael went on to create the 26-episode television series Sheena Queen of the Jungle (1955-56). Directed by Carl K. Hittleman and Arthur Pierson, this series was a female counterpart to "The King of the Jungle or The King of the Apes," featuring the blonde actress Irish Elizabeth McCalla and Chris Drake as Bob Rayburn. The cast also included Mexican actors such as Enrique Lucero, Claudio Brook, Fernando Wagner, Eduardo Noriega, José Muñoz, Yerye Beirute, Beatriz Sheridan, Johnny Laboriel, Rebeca Iturbide, and Carlos Múzquiz. Ismael Rodríguez served as the Executive Producer alongside Edward Nassour. This television adaptation was based on the comic book created by Will Eisner and S.M. Iger, portraying Sheena as a counterpart to Tarzan. Like Tarzan, Sheena is an orphan who learned to survive in the jungle and communicate with animals. Sheena, an Amazon skilled with a knife, spear, and bow, embarks on various adventures, confronting villains and natural dangers. The original film starred Anita Ekberg or Debra Paget.

The Mexican-American co-production The Mighty Jungle was filmed starting on January 12, 1959, with filming locations in El Tajín in Veracruz and Yucatán. The production was led by Edward Nassour and written, produced and directed by Ismael Rodríguez, David DaLie, and Arnold Belgard.  The photography was done by Agustín Martínez Solares and Laurie Friedman, set design by Edward Fitzgerald and music by famed arranger Les Baxter. The cast included DaLie, Marshall Thompson, Gloria Cansino, Andrés Soler, Lorena Velázquez, José Chávez Trowe, Rosenda Monteros, and José Jasso. The original plot followed an expedition searching for a hidden treasure in a lost Aztec city. The Mexican version was never completed or released. In 1965, it was re-edited with new footage and locations in Africa and the Amazon.

In this regard, Ismael Rodríguez, interviewed by historian Eugenia Meyer in 1976, declared: “I have had rather unpleasant experiences in co-production matters with Hollywood; I shot the tapes and sent them, I don't know what happened to them, since I have never seen them [...] The co-productions were bitter for me, not because I had made them with Americans, but because of the people, some guys that I didn't know, I later found out what a bad reputation they had. That was another of my mistakes that I don't want to remember. First I filmed Beast of Hollow Mountain well the monster was not made by me, it was made over there, it turned out ridiculous [...] Then I made a television series that lasted six months, here in Las Estacas: Sheena Queen of the Jungle. Later Daniel Boone and then The Mighty Jungle, which never premiered in Mexico. I directed everything and I don't think it turned out badly”.