Wednesday, August 19, 2015


George Harland is a world-class photographer; along with his teenage daughter Patricia, also a published photographer, he is in Africa on a photographic safari with his old friend Andy as guide and protector. But George is a stubborn, impatient, imperious fool who insists on taking unnecessary risks that rile up Andy, and Pat seems to be following in her father's footsteps. When George insists on going beyond the Big Rift, a dangerous area when no white man has ever been, Andy balks but ultimately agrees to take them. Pat goes off on her own, winding up lost, and just as a leopard attacks, she is saved by a teenage boy in a loincloth who calls himself Bomba. She feels threatened by him at first, but soon a bond forms between them and, when she wants to go find her father, Bomba reluctantly helps her. Along the way, she learns that Bomba was brought to the jungle years ago by a scientist who was searching for a place for himself outside of civilization. The man is now dead and Pat wants Bomba to return to the outside world with them. But soon, thanks to George's foolhardiness, they're all in trouble when they are caught witnessing a native tribe's lion hunt, a taboo event for outsiders.

Bomba movies ran frequently on TV back in the 60s but I had never seen one until now. To be honest, I've avoided them because of pictures I'd seen of Johnny Sheffield, who as a child actor played Boy to Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan throughout the 40s, looking rather bloated and unenthusiastic in the title role. But in this first Bomba outing, Sheffield, at 18, is actually not bad, and the movie itself, despite being made at low-budget Monogram Studios, does a nice job of incorporating stock footage of Africa into the studio sets. Especially effective are repeated shots of flocking birds and leaping monkeys, and there are even a couple of brief scenes of animals killing each other. Sheffield's voice is surprisingly deep—I thought at first that he had been dubbed—and his acting is adequate. The character is not as charming as Tarzan, being a bit more stand-offish, but I liked the scene of his first contact with Pat (Peggy Ann Garner, very good in the role); after he saves her from a panther attack, she pulls a gun on him and he understandably finds it difficult to warm up to her. She keeps begging him to help her and he keeps saying "You tried to hurt me." Onslow Stevens plays Harland as an unrepentant but bland jackass; much better is Charles Irwin as the Scottish Andy. A pleasant diversion; perhaps I'll take the plunge and watch a few more of these in the future. [Warner Archive Instant]

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

I must confess I'd never heard of the Bomba movies, but they do sound like fun.