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.
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.
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.