Co-directed by Luigi Scattini and Mino Loy, both experts in the form, this is a well-made example of the early 1960s mondo that largely lacks sensationalism, shocks and supercilious cynicism.
The basic format is straightforward, with studio or nightclub set strip and dance routines alternating with documentary footage, primarily from Africa. The former sequences are largely self-explanatory and allowed to pass without comment; the latter usually accompanied by a purportedly informative voice-over / off.
The main points of note in the documentary material are some tribesmen cutting a calf’s throat and drinking its blood and another group performing female genital mutilation. Neither practice is shown in particularly graphic detail, especially compared to 1970s examples of the form, but presumably both, along with the obligatory shots of bare-breasted African women had the intended effect on audiences back in the day.
Much the same can probably be said for the nightclub routines, insofar as these feature some exposed European breasts with little or no pseudo-anthropological pretence.
The use – presumably unlicensed – of the James Bond theme in the closing routine, where the dancer is also often shown in silhouette, indirectly testifies to Dr No’s impact on the cultural consciousness of the time, to provide a point of comparison with the credits sequence and scoring of A Fistful of Dollars the following year.
Predictably the film’s politics, such as they are, are confused, with discussion of apartheid in South Africa countered by a great white hunter / Tarzan styled nightclub sequence.
What has to be remembered, however, is that a Jean Rouch was not exactly the model for the film which, taken in its own terms, presumably met its vernacular audience’s needs.