Friday, September 11, 2015



Zoologist Paul Gordon (Donald Woods) is living with his wife Ruth and young son David in the middle of an African jungle, studying animals. David occasionally goes off to roam the wilds with his buddy Bomba the Jungle Boy, who has even provided him with a matching loincloth, but Paul and Ruth think he's imaginary. However, we have seen Bomba (Johnny Sheffield) secretly free some animals that Paul and his men captured one night. Meanwhile, Dr. Langley, an ethnologist from the Cairo Museum, shows up with his assistants Barton and Higgins, and wants to hire Paul to take them to find a dormant volcano which may point them toward a buried lost city. At first, Paul declines, saying he wants to take his family back to civilization, but soon, a jewel-studded knife that Bomba found near the volcano and gave to David as a gift ups the ante. Barton and Higgins volunteer to take David back to the city so Paul can lead their expedition, but actually the two kidnap David and try to force him to take them to the volcano so they can get their hands on whatever treasures there may be. Paul and Ruth and Langley go after the men. When Bomba gets in on the chase, there's all kind of excitement: Barton shoots Bomba's vine in two, a python attacks Higgins, Bomba wrestles a crocodile, there’s more gunplay, and of course, guess which volcano suddenly picks this time to get active?

By now in the series, Bomba is a Jungle Teenager—Sheffield was 19—but he can still pull off some stand-offish charm, or charming stand-offishness, though it's clear Bomba would rather horse around with kids than start dating. This is the first Bomba movie that doesn't provide a young woman who falls for Bomba, and that's OK. One critic notes disparagingly that Sheffield has a wrestler's build rather than a swimmer's build like Johnny Weissmuller had as Tarzan—Weissmuller may have been, early in the Tarzan series, sleeker and more aesthetically pleasing, but Sheffield is just a different kind of beefcake. Young Tommy Ivo is fine as David, his character clearly intended to help skew the audience toward children. Woods and Marjorie Lord are adequate in the adult leads, and John Ridgely, on a downhill slide from his heyday as a supporting actor at Warner Brothers, is good as one of the bad guys. The action picks up nicely in the last 15 minutes as the volcano begins to boil. The "lost city" trope, common in Tarzan stories and other jungle adventures, will undoubtedly return in later series entries. [DVD]

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