The Lost Volcano (1950)

The Lost Volcano (1950)‘You don’t suppose there is really a person called Bomba, do you, dear?’

After secretly befriending the young son of a wild animal trapper and his wife, Bomba, the Jungle Boy shows the lad the way to a lost city. An archaeology professor arrives on a scientific mission looking for the same metropolis, but the two guides with him form their own plans when they discover the ruins may contain a fabulous treasure…

The third African adventure from Monogram Studios featuring Johnny Sheffield and written and directed by series regular Ford Beebe. Sheffield had been let go by MGM after almost a decade playing ‘Boy’ to Johnny Weismuller’s ‘Tarzan’ because he was getting too old for the part. Executives at the more budgetary minded studio had no problem with his advancing age (he was still only 18 when the series began!), and starred him in a series of 12 pictures, concluding in 1955.

Here, we find Sheffield frustrating the plans of great white hunter Paul Gordon (Donald Woods), who is heading back to wife Ruth (Marjorie Lord), and young son David (Tommy lvo) with cages full of lions. Sheffield relieves him of his prizes, of course, assisted by a bird who knows enough about firearms to realise Bomba is about to be shot and knocks a rifle to one side! Woods is surprisingly cool about his loss, getting angrier about the fact that lvo insists him he hangs out with a Jungle Boy, who obviously can’t be real. Pretty servant Nona (Elena Verdugo) stands up for him, though, and actually seems to care more about him than his own parents.

The Lost Volcano (1950)

‘Stop it or I’ll get my Dad!’

Enter Dr Charles Langley (Grandon Rhodes), an archaeologist looking for this lost city ‘in the shadow of a volcano’ that’s so famous apparently it doesn’t even have a name. He’s accompanied by Barton (John Ridgely) and Higgins (Don C Harvey), two shifty types, who soon get interested when they find a dagger encrusted with jewels that Sheffield has repatriated from the ruins (apparently grave-robbing being added to the crime of teaching a young boy how to swing through trees in a loincloth).

Such plot as there is quickly resolves itself into a lengthy chase sequence after the bad guys kidnap Verdugo and the young lvo. They’re relying on the boy to help out on their treasure hunt, but she’s not putting up with any such nonsense. Her attempt to turn the tables is initially successful, but she’s soon on the run through the jungle with lvo still in the villains’ clutches.

The Lost Volcano (1950)

‘Finish up your dinner and I’ll let you go and play with the lions.’

Luckily, Sheffield is not far behind and sends her back to camp to collect Woods, Lord and Rhodes to form a ragtag rescue party. After that, we get the usual series of captures, escapes and re-captures with one of the crooks getting almost throttled by a python, apparently at Sheffield’s telepathic command! The climax takes place on the slopes of the ‘lost’ volcano, the movie’s title justified by the fact that this previously unknown geographical marvel sits beside a much bigger volcano that everyone does know about. I think.

Anyway, it’s about time we had a word about movie volcanoes. Why must they always erupt? And always in the final act? Why does their lava flow only in the immediate vicinity of the heroes and villains? And why doesn’t there seem to be any damage afterwards? Unless it’s on an island, of course, then the whole landmass has to sink beneath the waves. Oh, well. Volcanoes do what volcanoes do, I suppose. Elsewhere, it’s always good to see the Los Angeles Botanical Gardens and Arboretum making its usual reliable (if botanically inaccurate) appearance as the African continent.

The Lost Volcano (1950)

‘Do what I say or I’ll play you like a xylophone!’

Verdugo was often the liveliest presence in the low-budget films in which she appeared, but will always live on in the hearts of lovers of Universal Horror Classics after firing a silver bullet into the hairy chest of the ‘one she loves’: Lon Chaney Jr in ‘House of Frankenstein’ (1944). A natural blonde, she was often stuck in a black wig to play various ethnicities in minor programmers, but did find belated fame on TV as Robert Young’s nurse on big hit ‘Marcus Welby, M.D.’ She played the role for seven years and was nominated once for a Golden Globe and twice for an Emmy.

Sadly, there’s nothing remotely award worthy about this picture. It’s one of the dullest in the series.


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