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.
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.
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.