The Golden Idol (1954)

The Golden Idol (1954)‘He is a devil in human form; a devil with the strength of a gorilla and the cunning of a snake.’

A local chieftain has arranged to sell the legendary ‘Golden Idol of Watusi’ to an American museum to alleviate the extreme poverty in his village. But the relic is stolen by the agents of an evil prince, who wants it for himself. However, the thieves are ambushed by Bomba the Jungle Boy, who doesn’t put up with such activities on his manor…

The 10th movie in the ‘Bomba’ series finds our young star Johnny Sheffield tangling with the evil hirelings of the dastardly Prince Ali (Paul Guilfoyle), who looks like he’d be much more at home in the desert than in the jungle. As usual, the side of the angels are represented by Deputy Commissioner Barnes (Leonard Mudie) and his faithful servant, Eli (Smoki Whitfield), but this time they’re joined by archaeologist and museum rep (Anne Kimbell). Together, they indulge in the usual rounds of chat, pointing off camera at stock footage, more chat and general messing about in the woods.

The Golden Idol (1954)

‘Now, calm down, dear, the Oscar’s in the post.’

By this point in the series, writer-producer-director Ford Beebe was busy re-hiring actors from earlier entries and dressing them in the same costumes. That way he could recycle old footage and cut down on production costs. It’s Guilfoyle who gets that dubious honour here, having played the bad guy in ‘Bomba and the Hidden City’ (1950).

There’s also re-used clips of Sheffield swinging through the jungle and the umpteenth appearance of him riding an elephant with a bird of prey on his arm. I suppose the appearance of old footage could make a decent drinking game, but I couldn’t guarantee that you’d be in a fit condition after it was over! It’s also probably best not to get too excited by the Golden Idol of Watusi, either. It’s just a little knick-knack you could probably pick up in any Ten-Cent store. It would make a good paperweight, though.

To be fair to the film, it is better paced that some in the series and, somewhat ironically, as the films got cheaper, Sheffield displayed an easier, more natural presence. It’s probably down to the fact that his role in the opening chapters cast him as a more primitive denizen of the jungle; with dialogue to match. There’s also some halfway decent underwater photography when Kimbell and Sheffield take a swim together, and it’s the film’s best sequence, mainly because it looks like the two actors are genuinely having fun.

The Golden Idol (1954)

‘Don’t point that thing at me, I was in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ you know…’

Beebe was a veteran of the movie serials, having gathered co-directing quotes for some of the most famous examples of the genre: ‘Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars’ (1938), ‘Buck Rogers’ (1939), ‘The Phantom Creeps’ (1939) with Bela Lugosi and ‘The Green Hornet’ (1940). He’d also delivered the surprisingly effective low-budget ‘Night Monster’ (1942), again with Lugosi, and concluded Universal’s ‘Invisible Man’ series with ‘The Invisible Man’s Revenge’ (1944).

Guilfoyle had small roles in marginally more distinguished productions than this one, such as John Ford’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (1940), Cagney classic ‘White Heat’ (1948) and Bogart-Robinson face-off ‘Brother Orchid’ (1940). Later, he went into directing, mostly for television. Kimbell has the dubious distinction of being the leading lady in the first ever Roger Corman production, the soggy shoestring that was ‘Monster From The Ocean Floor’ (1954).

In 1953, Monogram Studios became Allied Artists, but the change seems to have had no effect on ‘Bomba’, although only two more films were made. A jungle adventure typical of the series; cheap, unambitious and formulaic.

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Jungle Gents (1954)

Jungle Gents (1954)‘lf you didn’t notice that, you’d better get your eyes examined by an octopus.’

Due to an experimental medication, a young man develops the ability to smell diamonds. After he tracks down some stolen gems from a robbery, a dealer recruits him and his friends to sniff out some missing stones in deepest Africa…

Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall came to Hollywood from the Broadway stage, having first came to notice as two of the street toughs in Maxwell Anderson’s hit play ‘Dead End.’ After the success of the film adaptation with Humphrey Bogart, the gang were styled as the ‘The Dead End Kids’ and featured in a number of similar pictures, such as the classic ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’ (1938), again with Bogart and starring James Cagney. After apparent issues with their behaviour, the gangs’ contracts were sold onto Monogram where they became ‘The East Side Kids’ and starred in a string of ‘B’ pictures. A fall out over money later and Gorcey took the group independent and restyled them as ‘The Bowery Boys’. A mind-boggling 48 pictures followed in just 13 years.

Jungle Gents (1954)

The Bowery Boys had relaxed their qualification criteria somewhat…

Given the number of films and the rate of production, it’s hardly surprising that the gang got around to tackling most film genres, provided they didn’t involve a significant production cost, of course. An African adventure made even more sense when they could film on sets still being used in the ongoing cinematic exploits of Johnny Sheffield as ‘Bomba, the Jungle Boy’ and re-use some of the stock footage already familiar to fans of that series.

We also get the extremely photogenic Laurette Luez who returns to the set from her previous visit on ‘Bomba’ picture ‘African Treasure’ (1952). She gets far fewer lines than when she appeared with Johnny Sheffield, but does get to display a little flair for comedy in her generic ‘female Tarzan’ role. And she was no doubt familiar with many of the acting chops required in these kinds of pictures; staring off screen at things that aren’t there, filling out a skimpy jungle outfit and having the best lipgloss and mascara this side of the Serengeti. I bet she also knew just where to park outside the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden, although I suspect even that mystical location was beyond the budget of director Edward Bernds’ little effort.

As this was the 35th of the boys’ adventures, many of the original ‘gang’ had long departed, leaving Gorcey and Hall as pretty much a double act. They are supported by Leo’s father and brother, Bernard and David, and Bennie Bartlett makes up the numbers, but none of them get much of a look in. The plot is as familiar as ever; the slow-witted Hall develops an unlikely ability and Gorcey tries to exploit it for his own ends. Here, a cold medicine (reformulated to super strength because of the size of Hall’s nose!) gives him the ability to sniff out diamonds. Gorcey’s wise guy, who knows all the angles, starts to see dollar signs when Patrick O’Moore suggests they help him find some lost gems in Africa. Muddying the waters are the nasty Dr Goebel(!) (Rudolph Anders) and his associate Harry Cording.

Jungle Gents (1954)

Sonny & Cher’s new TV sitcom was not a great success…

The best part of these lifeless proceedings is some of Gorcey’s clever word play, but if the script makes some effort with the laughs there, it’s sadly lacking in every other department. The postage stamp plot presents a progression of tired, familiar situations and predictable comedy tropes. The only surprise here is the non-appearance of the ‘man in a gorilla suit’ routine, although the boys had already milked that for one all it was worth in ‘Master Minds’ (1949).

Proving that ‘we all have to start somewhere’ are a couple of familiar faces in small, unbilled roles. Woody Strode had already appeared in a couple of the ‘Bomba’ series and has a similarly tiny role as a native tribesman here. ln a few years, he was starring as ‘Sergeant Rutledge’ (1960) for director John Ford and opposite Kirk Douglas in ‘Spartacus’ (1960). A long and successful career as a supporting player followed in many big Hollywood films. Making his first ever screen appearance for a few seconds at the end of the picture is Clint Walker, who found fame in TV Western ‘Cheyenne’ and as one of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ (1967) with Lee Marvin and Telly Savalas.

This is generic, disposal product, but it’s harmless and good-natured fun, and there a few laughs to be had from Gorcey’s dialogue. If you’re not too critical.

African Treasure/Bomba and The African Treasure (1952)

African Treasure (1952)‘Talking drums? S.O.S? Jungle boys? You really expect me to swallow that eyewash?’

A deputy commissioner stationed in the jungle is pleasantly surprised to receive an unexpected visit from a white hunter, although the man’s lack of porters and supplies are somewhat curious. Meanwhile, a young woman searches for her father after he fails to return from a trip to the interior with two other white men. Looks like a case for Bomba, the Jungle Boy!

Yes, we’re back with Johnny Sheffield as he navigates his way around cheap studio sets and the Los Angeles County Arborteum and Botanical Garden, dodging villainous white men and scratchy stock footage. This was the 7th in the series, written and directed by movie serial veteran Ford Beebe and produced by Walter Mirisch. And, in case you hadn’t guessed, it’s business as usual for our young Tarzan wannabee and various other employees of the Monogram Studios.

Local official Deputy Barnes (Leonard Mudie) finds his attempt to enjoy a quiet breakfast scuppered by a naughty little monkey, who steals his napkin and trashes his table. If that’s not enough, it’s great white hunter Pat Gilroy (Lyle Talbot) suddenly arriving by canoe. Mudie is initially happy for the company, but is less keen when he reads the mail and finds out that his new house guest is actually escaped criminal Roy DeHaven. Rather helpfully, he’s wearing exactly the same clothing as in the ‘wanted’ poster, which aids his identification no end. But this villain’s a sharp cookie, and soon the two of them are heading into the jungle with Mudie at the point of a gun.

African Treasure (1952)

‘It’s ok Bomba, it’s only my hairdresser.’

Elsewhere, pretty young Laurette Luez is out for a stroll in the jungle with just one native guide, a sun dress and well-applied lipstick for company. She’s moves like she’d be more at home at Saks Fifth Avenue than in the untamed wilderness, but at least she brings some personality to her severely underwritten role.

Her father (Martin Garralaga) hasn’t returned after acting as guide to Arthur Space and Lane Bradford, which isn’t much of a surprise when we learn that Talbot is their boss. We never find out how, but they’ve discovered diamonds in some blue-clayey rock in Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park, Los Angeles – sorry, deep in the jungle – and they are forcing Garralaga and a team of kidnapped locals to work the claim.

There aren’t many points of interest in these proceedings, if any. Sheffield does get funky on the jungle drums, before switching to bongos later on (perhaps he was a prototype beatnik?) Then he gets mauled by a lion, but the application of a few, well-chosen leaves and he’s good to go. There isn’t as much mismatched library footage of African wildlife as you might expect, but there’s plenty of re-used shots from earlier in the series. Despite being the alleged mastermind of the criminal gang, Talbot doesn’t even arrive in time for the ‘big’ climax, and Sheffield  is saddled with Kimbbo the Chimp, an obvious attempt to priovide comic relief. Unfortunately, this ape ain’t no Cheetah and even lacks the comedy stylings of ‘Tamba, the Talented Chimp’ from Weismuller’s ‘Jungle Jim’ series.

African Treasure (1952)

‘I hope you’ve remembered the pooper scooper, dear.’

Mudie appeared as Barnes in all of the films after his introduction in ‘Elephant Stampede’ (1951), and usually gave the best performance. Luez appeared in classic Noir ‘DOA’ (1949), and top-lined strange cave girl ‘comedy’ ‘Prehistoric Women’ (1950). Talbot appeared in hundreds of ‘B’ movies over more than 50 years but is only really remembered for his fateful decision to take part in ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ (1959).

Appearing uncredited as the mailman is the imposing Woody Strode (his second appearance in the series!) who got his big break in ‘Pork Chop Hill’ (1959) with Gregory Peck and went onto work with directors John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone, Francis Ford Coppola, Sam Raimi and John ‘Bud’ Cardos.

A very uneventful trip into the jungle that starts slowly, rounds up all the usual clichés and crawls to a spectacularly lacklustre climax.

The Lion Hunters/Bomba and The Lion Hunters (1951)

The Lion Hunters (1951)‘It has been many moons since their friend Bomba has visited their village.’

After finding a lion dying of its wounds, Bomba the Jungle Boy tracks the culprit to a white man’s safari. The expedition has government permits to capture lions and sell them to zoos, but their lead hunter’s overenthusiastic approach threatens the entire undertaking and the lives of the whole group…

Johnny Sheffield almost never made it out of the jungle during his 16-year film career. Being chosen by Johnny Weismuller to be ‘Boy’ to the big man’s ‘Tarzan’ must have seemed like a huge break at the time, but so closely associated with the role did he become that when he was let go by RKO after ‘Tarzan and The Huntress’ (1947), his only subsequent big screen outings were 12 appearances as ‘Bomba, the Jungle Boy’. This low-budget series from the cut-price Monogram Studios was produced by Walter Mirisch and (almost entirely) written and directed by movie serial veteran Ford Beebe.

ln this fifth episode in the series, it’s business as usual for Sheffield, as he spends about 70 minutes wandering around some desperately unconvincing studio sets and the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. Early scenes find him playing with a young lion cub, but he doesn’t get too close to Mama (mainly because she’s appearing courtesy of a local, reasonable priced film library). There’s useless (and unnecessary) rear projection, a comedy chimpanzee and a pretty face to rescue in the form of Ann Todd. Her father (Morris Ankrum) has financed the safari in question, but he’s unable to stand up to hunter Marty Martin (Douglas Kennedy), whose ‘bring ’em back alive’ attitude is causing trouble in paradise.

This is a formulaic, predictable, bottom of the bill programmer that displays almost zero creativity and imagination. It’s professionally made, given the budgetary constraints, and Sheffield seems a little more engaged than in some episodes of the series. This could be because he has more dialogue, which includes his firest use of Weismuller’s trademark ‘Umgawa’; essential vocab when having a chat with the wildlife of the dark continent. It’s nice to think this was Sheffield’s affectionate tribute to his former mentor, rather than just Beebe’s lazy scriptwriting. To the film’s credit, the native characters (although side-lined) are treated with some respect, although l strongly suspect that their ‘language’ was made up on the spot.

The Lion Hunters (1951)

‘Well, mark my words, this is the last time I’m doing this kind of movie…’

Ankrum is a cult movie staple; taking supporting roles in an impressive number of projects: ‘Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers’ (1956), ‘The Giant Claw’ (1957), ‘Rocketship X-M’ (1950), ‘Flight To Mars’ (1951), ‘Half Human’ (1958), ‘The Zombies of Mora-Tau’ (1957), ‘Curse of the Faceless Man’ (1958), ‘How To Make A Monster’ (1958), ‘Invaders From Mars’ (1953), ‘Kronos’ (1957), ‘The Beginning of the End’ (1957) and many others.

This was Todd’s last film after an indifferent career, but she got the last laugh, making over 100 appearances on popular TV sitcom ‘Trouble with Father’ before quitting the business and taking up teaching musical history. Also appearing here is a young Woody Strode (billed as ‘Woodrow’), the first time his name appears anywhere in a film’s credits. His impressive presence and physique graced four films by director John Ford, including in the title role of ‘Sergeant Rutledge’ (1960), the same year he squared off in the arena against Kirk Douglas’ ‘Spartacus’ (1960) for director Stanley Kubrick.

Anonymous time filler with no real points of interest whatsoever.

Killer Ape (1953)

Killer Ape (1953)‘Mark me well, this vile thing will destroy you, not us!’

The listless behaviour of the local crocodile population is a mystery to a game warden, who calls in Jungle Jim for a second opinion. The big man investigates, and finds some evil scientists carrying out an experiment involving a drug that paralyses the will. Close by, a giant man-ape is about to throw a little tantrum…

When Johnny Weismuller’s tenure as MGM’s ‘Tarzan’ wrapped in 1948, he swapped his trademark loincloth for a safari suit and became ‘Jungle Jim’ for a series of low rent adventures for legendary skinflint producer Sam Katzman. The character was (rather) loosely based on a comic strip original co-created by ‘Flash Gordon’ cartoonist Alex Raymond, rather ironically as competition for a ‘Tarzan’ strip run by another publishing syndicate. There had been a radio show for three years in the late 1930s and even a movie serial in 1937 starring Grant Withers in the title role, but it’s the cheap and cheerful series of Katzman productions that tend to be remembered today.

The 12th entry finds Weismuller up against sinister scientist Nestor Paiva, whose (somewhat vague) experiments with a (somewhat vague) chemical extract stand to make him a pretty penny indeed when sold to an (unnamed) foreign government. This doesn’t seem too dastardly; after all, they are looking for an antidote too, but it’s a little bit of a red flag when Paiva confides that ‘every nation can be destroyed through its’ drinking water.’ And what’s up with his experimental procedure? Why try the potion out on a bunch of crocodiles? Why not pick something a little less likely to take your arm off? I’m guessing it might have had something to do with the stock footage available. After all, by the time we join the action, Paiva has revised his working practice to favour the rather less toothsome zebra.

Further muddying the waters is Paiva’s choice of camp location. He’s put down stakes right in the middle of the ‘Valley of the Man-Ape’ and, as you might have gathered, that’s not a particularly good idea. The creature in question is often referred to simply as an ‘Ape’ (kind of like in the title?) but actually turns out to be giant actor Max Palmer in face fuzz, a furry bathrobe and hairy wellington boots. He’s certainly a wiz at growling and turning over tables but, apart from that and his considerable size, he’s not exactly the most intimidating monster to ever walk across the silver screen. He is impervious to knives and bullets, though. Is there such a thing as a bulletproof bathrobe?

The story’s heroic human elements, apart from Weismuller himself, are a local tribe of hunters who are providing animals for the criminal gang. After the headman is killed, leadership responsibilities fall on Ramada (Burt Wenland), who fulfils the vital role of being the ‘someone who the hero explains things to.’ His betrothed is dark-haired vixen Carol Thurston who seems quite feisty at first, what with her persistent attempts to knife Weismuller, but she soon sees the error of her ways and becomes ‘the girl who gets kidnapped by the monster a lot.’ Also on duty is Tamba, the Talented Chimp, who backflips, lassoes a plastic crocodile, and ultimately saves the day due to his access to a reasonably priced film library. Yes, the leaping monkeys from ‘Captive Girl’ (1950) are back again, running amuck in the villain’s camp and ruining Paiva’s plans with just a snip of an editor’s magic scissors.

Killer Ape (1953)

‘Give me my trousers back, Johnny, or else!’

Although allegedly measured at 8 ft 2 inches for his coffin, Palmer is listed at 7′ 7″ by the Guinness Book of World Records and, given the disparity in height between him and the 6-foot, 3-inch Weismuller, I would favour the latter height as being the more reliable measurement. It still puts him on the same level as Lock Martin who played the iconic robot Gort in ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ (1951). After a brief film career, Palmer first became a pro-wrestler and then a travelling evangelist, billed variously as ‘Goliath for Christ’ and ‘The World’s Largest Christian.’

Thurston was an American of Irish descent whose dusky looks typed her in various ethnic roles in the ‘B’ movie universe: Chinese, Native American and Indonesian, among others. Some of the filming took place at Corriganville, the ranch owned by ex-screen cowboy and gorilla-suit specialist Ray ‘Crash’ Corrigan, who turns up acting in civvies here as one of Paiva’s henchmen. It must be quite a novelty for him to play a human being for once, especially in a film with ‘Ape’ in the title.

As you’ll have obviously have already guessed, this is all routine, low-grade entertainment. Apparently, the ‘Jungle Jim’ features were usually made two at a time; a nine-day shoot for each with a two-day break in between.

This is probably not quite the worst of the series, but the ridiculous nature of the title creature is the only thing an audience is even likely to remember.

Valley Of Head Hunters (1953)

Valley of Head Hunters (1952)When the Romans attacked the Carthaginians, Hannibal thought of a lulu of a tactic.’

Unscrupulous slave traders discover low-grade oil in the jungle and plan to secure the mineral rights at any cost. They persuade a native chief to reform an ancient tribe of head hunters and seize control of the region…

After almost two-decades as MGM’s ‘Tarzan’, ex-Olympic multi-gold medallist Johnny Weismuller took the short bus ride from Culver City to Gower Gulch, where he signed with Columbia Studios to appear in a series of films as ‘Jungle Jim.’ These cut-price African adventures were made under the watchful eye of producer Sam Katzman and his independent film company. Katzman had begun in low-budget Western programmers in the mid-1930’s before graduating to Monogram Studios where he supervised movie serials and horror quickies with Bela Lugosi. His ‘cash careful’ approach caught the eye of executives at Columbia and they signed him to a deal in 1948.

This 11th entry finds Weismuller teaming up with old friend and interpreter Ellen Shaw (Christine Larson) and clean-cut Lt Barry (Steven Ritch) who has just returned from military school. Their mission? To bring cold-blooded trader Arco (Robert C Foulk) and his right-hand man Pico Church (Joseph Allen) to justice. But these wicked pair have plans of their own. While executing his usual business model of kidnapping native women, Allen has stumbled across a pool of oil in the jungle. It might be low-grade stuff but it can be used to refine copper. Sensing a mineral bonanza, Foulk sets out to stir up unrest and move in. He’s got previous too; orchestrating the native uprising that took the life of Larson’s father.

Valley of Head Hunters (1952)

Events as at the weigh-in had got out of hand…

The ‘Jungle Jim’ series was pretty much the definition of ‘conveyor belt’ filmmaking and here the main creative team includes director William Berke (six in the series) and writer Samuel Newman who wrote five in total. However, although it shares many of the elements (and even some of the footage!) of other episodes, there’s something a tiny bit different going on here. You see, if you’re looking for straight drama, this is probably the best in the entire series.

For a start, it takes its story pretty seriously and there’s definitely an edge to proceedings not present in other entries. In the opening sequence, Allen callously empties his revolver into a wicket basket containing a helpless native girl when the police close in. We even see the corpse later on. When he catches up with the murderer, Weismuller puts him in a lion trap that will snap his neck if he doesn’t talk. Also the ‘friendly’ natives use their spears on the bad guys when they’re lying stunned on the ground. All of which is a little darker than what the films usually had to offer.

But then there’s Tamba, the Talented Chimp. Tamba gets an oblivious Weismuller to carry his pack, Tamba shoots the hat off our hero’s head, Tamba steals Larson’s clothes when she’s having a dip, Tamba gets hopped up on ether which allows him to somersault in slow motion! Ok, so he does free Weismuller by making like a bush but he is more of a hindrance than a help and his usual comedy schtick is strangely at odds with what’s going on elsewhere.

And yes, of course, Larson gets her foot caught in a tree root (women, eh?) and faints when she’s threatened by a panther. And, of course, Weismuller has to fight the stuffed toy, which must have been a chore as he’d already killed it in at least two of the previous films. I guess the big cat just couldn’t take the hint. Worse still, the second act really drags on as our heroes visit various tribes in an attempt to secure their mineral rights, and this effectively kills off any vague sense of excitement that the film possesses.

Valley of Head Hunters (1953)

‘Do you have to tread on my feet every time?’

Larson did lots of ‘b’ pictures, mostly Westerns and retired in 1958. She’s probably best remembered now for an alleged love affair with Ronald Reagan when he was first married to Nancy Davis. Ritch was a jobbing actor, who enjoyed more success as a writer, penning a couple of noir movies including the inventive ‘Plunder Road’ (1957) and episodes for hit TV shows like ‘Wagon Train’. Foulk enjoyed a long and very successful career as a TV character actor, appearing on ‘Lost In Space’, ‘The Big Valley’, ‘Rawhide, ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘The Twilight Zone’ among others. Newman delivered a dry run for ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) with ‘Invisible Invaders’ (1959) and tangled with goofy intergalactic ‘big as a battleship’ buzzard puppet ‘The Giant Claw’ (1957).

There are no Nazis, Moon Men or cave men with furry wellington boots here, but, of course, those are the elements that provide the greatest entertainment when watching Jim’s exploits today. Instead, we have a fairly standard jungle adventure enlivened by some surprisingly dark moments.

Savage Mutiny (1953)

Savage Mutiny (1953)‘Well, Major, you’ve no doubt been wondering about the scientific expedition I brought in here last week…’

Leading a force of government troops, Jungle Jim wipes out a cell of foreign agents living in the interior. This clears the way for ‘Jungle Project X’; the first atom bomb test to be made in Africa. But some of the enemy spies are still around and plan to disrupt the project by stirring up the local population…

The tenth of the ‘Jungle Jim’ series finds muscle-bound ex-Tarzan Johnny Weismuller in gainful employment as some kind official enforcer for the Anglo-American government. Yes, he’s no longer working as a trail guide (specialising in the discovery of lost cities, fabulous diamonds and missing scientists) but rooting out the Commie threat on behalf of Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam Katzman, that is. Yes, the penny-pinching producer serves up yet another slice of no-budget jungle fun with the help of veteran director Spencer Gordon Bennet and writer Sol Shor.

After clearing out the local Red Threat (or so he thinks!), Weismuller heads back to HQ for to his next mission. Chief of Staff Major Walsh (series veteran Lester Matthews in yet another different role) is under orders too; those of ‘radioactivity expert’ Dr Parker (Nelson Leigh). The boffin is planning to drop an atom bomb on the island of Tulonga (the name of which has been helpfully added to the printed wall map in marker pen). Matthews points out that the island is inhabited, but Leigh assures him that it’s the perfect place to test the effects of radioactivity, so it’s all fine. The native tribe can just come to the mainland for a holiday. They might have never left the island before, but Matthews reckons Weismuller can relocate them all in a couple of days.

Savage Mutiny (1953)

‘Come on, lads, we’re only 4-0 down and we’ve got the wind with us in the second half…’

Obviously, it’s not entirely fair to impose modern day attitudes on a piece of entertainment more than half a century old, but it’s still eyebrow-raising when Wesimuller simply goes along with all this. Especially considering he’s supposed to be a long-time friend of the tribe’s headman, Chief Wamai (Charles Stevens, born in Arizona). Still, I guess that uprooting a unique indigenous people from their natural environment and obliterating their culture and homeland with an atom bomb isn’t that bad, is it? The government are going to rebuild their village and let them move back a week or so afterwards!

Also on the plus side, they’re going to get inoculated against any nasty, civilised germs by Angela Stevens from the World Health Organisation. Unfortunately, she loses her ‘carrying case containing the vaccine’ during the journey. Yes, Weismuller retrieves it from some stock footage hyenas, but the description kind of suggests that one shot of something is all they’re going to get anyway. With that quality of medical care, it’s no surprise they start getting seriously ill once they’ve made the trip, but it’s actually because they’ve been sprayed with radioactive dust by despicable commie trader Kroman (played by Gregory Gaye; a real live Russian, ladies and gentlemen!) All of which goes to show that the nasty effects of radiation exposure were even known to Hollywood scriptwriters at the time. As was the fact that you can survive a nuclear explosion by turning your back and simply looking the other way. You don’t even have to lie down. Which is good to know.

Director Bennet was a Hollywood veteran who spent many years working on movie serials, and there’s a sequence in a burning hut that will ring a bell with any fans of that medium. Likewise, author Shor was a regular on the staff at Republic Studios, contributing with a stable of writers to such classic chapter plays as ‘The Adventures of Captain Marvel’ (1941), ‘The Drums of Fu Manchu’ (1940), ‘The Mysterious Dr Satan’ (1943) and ‘The Crimson Ghost’ (1946). But the presence of these two stalwarts adds little that’s new to the seasoned formula; Bennet having already directed ‘Voodoo Tiger’ (1952) in the series, and going on to helm ‘Killer Ape’ (1953) and final entry ‘Devil Goddess’ (1955).

One of the better entries in the ‘Jungle Jim’ series when viewed today, but most of the enjoyment comes from the dated aspects of the story, rather than from anything that the filmmakers put up on the screen intentionally.

Tamba (the talented Chimp) probably does more backflips in this one than any other, though. So,there is that. You know, for die-hard Tamba fans…