Cobra Woman

Cobra Woman is a 1944 American South Seas adventure film directed by Robert Siodmak starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Sabu. Shot in Technicolor, this film is typical of Montez's career at Universal Pictures, and, although mostly forgotten today by the general public, venerated as a camp classic for its legendary phallic snake-dance, and Montez's immortal words: "Geev me that Cobra jewl (sic)".

Cobra Woman
Directed byRobert Siodmak
Produced byGeorge Waggner
Screenplay byGene Lewis
Richard Brooks
Story byScott Darling
StarringMaria Montez
Jon Hall
Music byEdward Ward
CinematographyW. Howard Greene
Edited byCharles Maynard
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 12, 1944 (1944-05-12)
Running time
71 minutes
CountryUnited States

Avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger has called it his favourite film. Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film three stars out of four and called it a camp classic.[2][3]


The beautiful Tollea is abducted and taken to Cobra Island, where the Queen is her grandmother. Hava warns the angered Ramu not to go after her, but Ramu sets sail for the forbidden island, with his young friend Kado accompanying him as a stowaway.

A panther attacks Ramu, who is saved by a dart from Kado's deadly blowgun. They continue the search for Tollea, unaware that the high priestess of the island is Naja, her twin sister. The queen has ordered Tollea to be forcibly returned to Cobra Island only so she can displace her evil sister.

Ramu mistakenly becomes involved with Naja, who falls in love with him. Kado is captured and tortured by the brutal Martok, but refuses to reveal Ramu's whereabouts. Martok proceeds to murder the Queen.

When they finally meet, Naja attempts to kill her sister with a spear, but plunges to her own death instead. Martok insists that Tollea perform a forbidden cobra dance, whereupon the island's volcano begins to erupt. It ceases when Martok is killed by Hava, and when Ramu is about to return home, Tollea asks him to remain and help her rule Cobra Island.



Universal announced the film in June 1942 starring Montez, Hall and Sabu - even before shooting had begun on Arabian Nights.[4] It was meant to follow that film but was pre-empted by White Savage.[5]

Filming took place in May 1943.[6]

Siodmak later called the film "silly but fun... Montez couldn't act from here to there but she was a great personality and completely believed in her roles: if she was playing a princess you had to treat her like one all through lunch but if she was a slave girl you could kick her around anyhow and she wouldn't object - Method acting before its time you might say."[7]

A poster of the film can be seen in the 2013 film Mama.

See also


  1. Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 May 1944: 15.
  2. "Cobra Woman (1944) - Overview". Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  3. Cobra Woman at Maria Montez fansite; accessed March 15, 2014.
  4. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Mariene Dietrich, John Wayne and Randolph Scott to Be Co-Starred in 'Pittsburgh' FOUR NEW FILMS ARRIVE ' Mrs. Miniver,' 'Ten Gentlemen From West Point,' 'Broadway' and 'Almost Married' By Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 June 1942: 23.
  5. Loretta Young, Brian Aherne to Appear in 'The Frightened Stiff' at Columbia: 2 NEW FILMS DUE TODAY 'Men of Texas' Arrives at the Rialto and 'Sweater Girl' Opens at Central By Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 July 1942: 8.
  6. DRAMA AND FILM: Welles 'War and Peace' Deal Near Maturing Sabu, Montez, Hall Scheduled for Turkish Opus; California Models Maneuver Break Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 May 1943: A16.
  7. Encounter with Siodmak Taylor, Russell. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 28, Iss. 3, (Summer 1959): 180.
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