harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
harsens_rob
harsens_rob

Movie Review -- Nabonga




NABONGA

(1944)

Starring: Buster Crabbe, Julie London, Barton MacLane, Fifi D'Orsay

DIR: Sam Newfield


Blurb: A young girl is the only survivor of a plane crash (LIAR) that carried herself and her father, a bank embezzler escaping with the money. Befriended by a gorilla that protects and cares for her, the girl grows up in the jungle guarding the fortune. The son of the bank president, from which the money was stolen, tracks down the girl to recover the money, but falls for the girl and must protect her from an unscrupulous guide, who wants the money for himself.





Scene 01: We open our movie with the opening theme still playing (which I mention, because I want to start with a kudos for the exciting music ... it's certainly engaging, so is a good way to start this little picture) over a telegram asking that somebody or other be taken into custody for extradition to New York on embezzlement charges, just as the blurb told us.


Scene 02: We cut to what looks like a flop-room, where someone is banging on the door. It's the police looking for Stockwell, who is our thief. We're clearly not in America, judging by the police officer's accent and dress ... possibly British colonized India?

They find Stockwell's daughter's doll lying on the floor, but the rest of the room is empty.


Scene 03: We cut to Stockwell and Doreen aboard a private plane. The pilot is struggling at the controls, because they're flying through an intense storm.

The pilot tries to contact control, but finds communications impossible, while Stockwell is clearly rethinking trying to obscond with his stolen loot, while dragging his little girl along through a thunderstorm onboard a puddle-hopper. It's a little late for that.





Little Girl complains in her best cutesy-Shirley-Temple-knock-off voice about wanting to go home. Mr. Stockwell talks to the pilot to find out where they are and when they can land until the storm passes. Pilot informs him they're over a jungle and the plane isn't equipped to land in trees ... he makes it clear that the little plane is in trouble.


Commentary: I immediately like pilot, but I have a feeling he's a day player who won't be with us much longer. The scenes here are dark and with the usual lack of care about transferring that Mill Creek has used with the rest of the collection (We're on the Night Screams collection, again), when we cut to an outer shot of the plane in the storm, I can't see a thing. Thankfully, the interior, while dark, is still see-able.


Pilot tells his two passengers to make sure they're strapped in. The little plane's engine is losing power and he's going to look for a place where they can make a forced landing, despite the unpromising terrain below. Things are grim.


Scene 04: In the jungle below, natives hear the distressed prop plane flying too low and rush from their hut.


Commentary: I think. This scene is also appallingly dark.


We cut our view to the forest canopy and hear the sounds of the plane crashing. I can't tell if we actually saw it, because the film is too dark to make anything out.


Scene 05: Sometime later, we see the usual stock footage of bearers carrying supplies on their shoulders as they cross a river and through the jungle.

They're being led by two white men (of course) and we see plenty of stock animals (of course).

At ground level we see a group of ... cough-cough ... great apes milling about. We follow one of these in particular, as he does nothing interesting for a handful of seconds.


Scene 06: Our POV changes back to our explorers trampling through the underbrush. The natives, as they are wont to do - suddenly get restless about moving forward. One of our exploration leaders tells them with irritation that they need to move to find the downed plane.


Scene 07: The cough-cough great ape is ... doing something ....

The party sees the ape, he sees them, he stands on his hind feet/paws (which do cough-cough great apes have?) and issues a menacing growl. White party leader, and the second one that we saw in stock footage has apparently vanished unnoticed during the trek, pulls out his handy pistol, even though the scene before he was carrying a rifle.

He shoots the ape several times and it topples over.


Scene 08: At the plane wreck, all three of our passengers have managed to survive, although Daddy Embezzler has a head wound. Doreen traumatizes a monkey by screeching her lines at it. The monkey can't stand her voice anymore and rushes off into the jungle. She follows, unnoticed by the adults.


Commentary: Alas, thanks to the blurb, we know the clever little monkey won't be able to trick her right into a quicksand pit.


Scene 09: Pilot-Guy expresses his amazement that they managed to get the craft down without their being dead. He notices Embezzler's lockbox nearby, it having opened and spilled its contents in the crash. It is filled with purloined jewelry and some papers (noterized letter of credit, perhaps?).

There is some tension as Pilot and Embezzler share uneasy looks with one another, as the box had quite a tidy little haul. The moment passes and Pilot goes to look at the radio.

Well, Embezzler is still extremely uneasy with Pilot Guy's wandering eye on his stash, so shoots him dead instead.


Commentary: I like this scene. The acting here between Herbert Rawlinson and Jack Gardner was nicely handled and T.F.'s shooting the pilot right through the plane's small window without a word was a mild surprise. Especially when Jack doesn't go down with the first shot and T.F. methodically lines up his second shot and then pulls the trigger.


T.F. realizes a bit late that Doreen may have been horrified by her father murdering Pilot right in front of her and calls out for her. He gets a mounting sense of dread as he doesn't see his daughter and she doesn't answer him.


Scene 10: Doreen is, of course, wandering around the jungle looking for the cute monkey who just wants to get away from her. Stock footage monkeys of differing color than the one she's following, and so are pointless inserts, are chittering in the trees.

Meanwhile great ape, who we'll be calling Samson, gets up injured but alive following being shot.

They run into each other and Doreen has the good sense to slowly back away, until Samson once again collapses. She becomes fascinated with the ape or hypnotized ... it's hard to tell with the goofily blank head tilting going on... and wanders over to stand over it.


Scene 11: T.F. is wandering the jungle as well.


Scene 12: Doreen pets the fallen ape. Because it is an injured wild animal and the only human shape it has met has hurt it badly, it immediately grabs her and bites her face off... no wait, that doesn't happen. Darn it.

Instead it grunts at her and pats her forearm as she strokes its proud face.


Scene 13: T.F. Stockwell, embezzler and now murderer, continues wandering the jungle shouting out for Doreen with a death grip on his ill-gained loot. He calls for his daughter in nicely acted growing panic.

She hears him calling for her and calls back.


Commentary: Naturally, despite 360-degrees of direction to go and nothing but thick growth all around, T.F. managed to wander in the exact direction his dull-witted daughter did. Just as naturally, when they make contact they've been so close that there isn't any reason he didn't see her before.


T.F. is suitably frightened by his daughter kneeling near such a powerful animal as the great ape. He threatens the ape with the gun, but Doreen begs him not to shoot, because he's hurt.


Commentary: And, then we just switch to a new scene? What a weird place for a scene break.


Scene 14: Back with the native villagers, they're ... uh, doing something native that I can't quite make out... and speaking the worst native-ese ever.


Commentary: Seriously, it's even worse than "ooga-booga" or "cookie-choocheee". It sounds a lot like they speak in caveman grunt.


We focus on a ... restaurant hut?... where two white men (our searchers?) are being served by a waitperson. A woman comes out, who may be a barmaid of some sort and looks with possible longing at a man sitting on a rail.


Commentary: WTF. Where are we? Who are these people? I don't think the two white men are the search party guys after all. I think we've jumped ahead and are meeting Crabbe as he searches for embezzler guy and his daughter, but the scene transition without a title card to give us a passage of time was bizarre and horribly handled.

A new guy comes from Marie's room behind her and they exchange dialog. I'm now thinking that Marie is a prostitute, perhaps, and her boyfriend/male friend/pimp is involved in some sort of shady business with her. He has her keep the newly arrived Ray Gorman occupied, so he can go through his room and find out his story. He warns her that this is to be business, not pleasure, but she's clearly more than happy to engage the attention of Ray.

She goes over and introduces herself to Ray, who was staring off and thinking deep thoughts. He tells her (but I think he's just joking around with her) that he was thinking about King Solomon's treasure. I thought maybe he'd start by introducing himself, but no....





Without actually ever giving her or us his effing name, he notes the return of the single white guy without his stock footage partner, who was out looking for the downed plane and the bearers. They've apparently found nothing, but we don't get any details because we're leaving all of this...


Commentary: This is just a mess continuity wise. The search party seemed to have went missing as soon as the little plane was reported missing. But, okay, apparently there are others who are now looking for the downed craft, lo-these may years ago... but uh, not so hard-looking to put "White Witch" into context with possibly the missing child from the original crash, which everyone in the area seemingly knows about despite it happening over a decade ago? I think. The timeline here is a bit smeary.


Scene 15: ... to go with Marie's whatever-he-is who also hasn't been given a damned name. He's going through Ray's room. There is some concern that Ray may be with the police, but no explanation as to why whoever-he-is and Marie might be concerned about either his, or the police's arrival. And, you'd think that if news of a downed plane had made it to this village, there would have been some sort of police presence already there, organizing a search for survivors. Apparently not. Which is actually understandable since Doreen - not really a spoiler - is now an adult. Except, then it doesn't make much sense for everyone's fascination with this tiny aircraft missing this long later, unless they know about the gems purportedly aboard, but anyone would know about the lockbox is also a mystery not expanded upon.

Room-Tossing Guy (is this Carl?) finds a billfold in a drawer and within this is some folded news clippings about the lost bank fortune and the plane crash.


Commentary: I'm so irritated with the lack of names being given onscreen & the fact that this is apparently years after the crash, but we were given zero indication of this and have to go solely by the blurb that the girl is going to be grown up by the time Buster shows up ... which he's now done, so.... Just a little bit of exposition would have been lovely for our benefit.


Another of the clippings reports that a trust company has gone bankrupt and President Gorman was being prosecuted.

Carl(?) quickly replaces these things and leaves the room.


Scene 16: Outside, a group of natives are yammering over one another in their fake-language in an utterly pointless way. At a table, white men are chatting also, with one of the men stating he's had trouble with his workers not wanting to enter a particular region of jungle. They've told him that it is ruled by a white witch who fell out of the sky.


Commentary: Ouch. I'm sorry I asked for a little exposition to help us out, if we're going to have bricks dropped on our heads. And, if the history of the 'white witch' is so well known, who told this story? And why didn't they rescue the girl at the time of the crash when everyone was looking for her? How did this become a local legend without anyone realizing that it was the plane crash victim wandering around?


Ray overhears the tale and leaves Marie in order to find out more about this local legend of the white witch. There are only vague details spoken of, but supposedly she's able to command the local animals. Things are interrupted when one of the natives launches himself at another ... who apparently works for Carl, possibly. The attackers believes that Carl's employee used magic against his brother and has tried to kill him before.

Ray and Storyteller put an end to this nonsense, for the moment. Carl tells them they shouldn't get involved in the local doings of the tribe, as they have their own codes of conduct that white men can't understand. Ray poo-poos that idea. He goes in the door that Carl left through and the native guy entered, so apparently it is supposed to be some sort of lobby or something? I don't know. It looks like the same sort of door used for rooms.

Anyway, Storyteller and Carl discuss Ray's arrival and why he might be there. Marie hovers in the background.


Scene 17: Ray returns to his room. The native (porter?) also comes into his room. The native's name is Tobo. Tobo wishes to tells Ray where he can look for the white witch in payment for his having saved him from attacker-guy. Tobo shares that his particular tribe were the ones who saw her fall from the sky and reports that she arrived in a house with wings (uh... maybe a closet with wings... that thing was a tiny prop plane). He gives Ray a token that is embossed with the airline's name.


Scene 18: Outdoors, Marie is ... pensive? Pissy? I don't know what she's supposed to be conveying because I don't know what she has to do with anything. But, she's there at the right time, hovering outside of Ray's room (maybe she was being impatient for Tobo to leave, so she could jump Ray's bones) and hears their discussion.

Tobo is telling Ray that he thinks the token made the winged house fly, but he hasn't been able to make the magic work for himself.





Commentary: Holy Crap, Buster. Late night? You look like crap and your eyes appear to be nearly swelled shut!


Ray has Tobo describe where he needs to go in order to check out the plane.


Scene 19: In the meanwhile, Marie rushes off to inform I-believe-Carl about Ray's plans. Carl leaves Marie standing outside, while he now goes to Ray's door to listen in on Tobo's conversation with him.

Tobo warns that he can't go into the jungle without an equipped safari, but Ray doesn't want that many people up in his business.

Carl comes in to take a gander at the crudely drawn map under the pretense of asking Ray if he had plans to do any shooting. Carl is very deliberate in casting aspersions on any local stories that Ray may have heard before he takes his leave.


Scene 20: Tobo and Ray discuss things further. Tobo offers to go with "b'wana" into the jungle to find the wrecked plane. Ray tries to tell him he's done enough to help him, but Tobo explains that the deep jungle is no place for a white man. He tells him that white men who spend too much time there begin to feel death closing in on them until it is all they can think about. He's seen white men go into the jungle and lose their sanity and wishes to protect Ray from this happening to him.


Commentary: Prince Modupe does a wonderful job with this recitation, giving a sense of foreboding about the upcoming jungle trek. He has a definite sense of past pain at seeing other men reduced to lunatics because they went into the jungles unprepared. This is a very nice dialog scene between Prince and Buster and they have an easy chemistry between them.


Scene 21: That night, Carl enters Ray's room through the window in search of something as Ray sleeps (that crappy stick drawing map?). At first Carl is going to leave when he gets what he came for... but then thinks better of it. Drawing a dagger that Ray has on the table for whatever reason, he stalks to the 'sleeping' man. But, Carl had knocked around a bit too loudly, and Ray is actually awake. He springs up with a left hook before he gets stabbed.


Commentary: And, all of this sounds much more exciting than it actually is because the completely unrestored print on the Night Screams DVD is too damned dark to actually follow along with what is happening.


There is much manly fisticuffs, before the neighbors begin pounding at Ray's door in response to the commotion. Carl makes his escape. When Ray answers the pounding at his door, he claims a nightmare ... and sleep-fighting... which somehow is bought. Everyone goes back to their own rooms, except Tobo, who Ray asks to stay.

Ray tells Tobo that someone had just tried to murder him and steal the map (which he found lying on the floor where Carl dropped it).


Commentary: Okay... I'm thinking Tobo has a pronounced crush on Ray. He stands just a little too close to him and gazes at him just a little too intently. It helps that the chemistry between Crabbe and Modupe is natural and magnetic. Naturally, there is no way that this was meant, but it is there and the tension just adds more interest to what would otherwise be dull dialog. I wasn't expecting to be so enraptured with the performances in this little jungle flick, so it's a nice surprise.


Ray tells Tobo that he's leaving right away before the attempted killer (whose face he didn't see) has another chance. Tobo is going to go with him.


Scene 22: The next morning, Carl is cheesed to find Ray gone. He grabs passing native and orders him to gather up a safari to follow a trail. Marie insists that she wants to go with him and he relents to her insistence.


Scene 23: In some random cave in a nearby mountain, our White Witch Doreen is fondling the jewelry and papers her father had stolen. She leaves the cave and is greeted by the cough-cough great ape she had comforted so long ago.

The ape follows along in her wake and she steps through the usual stock footage of wild animals. She's carrying what looks like a milk pail, which she uses to retrieve water.

Stock Footage, Stock Footage....

While Doreen spends time smelling the jungle blooms, another great ape manages to sneak up on her with its inate Gorilla-Ninja powers. Just before it can grab her, Samson responds and the two apes get into a tussle. The stock footage animals become agitated at this display of violence and start moving in fast-motion as Doreen stares with, um, some sort of emotion at Samson and random great ape bopping one another.

Samson wins. Doreen pets the back of his neck and infers that he's been her guardian for the last however many years.


Scene 24: Elsewhere, Tobo and Ray cut their way through the jungle and past more usual stock footage wildlife. Their trail is being followed by Carl, Marie and their safari.

Walk, walk, stock footage, walk... stalked by stock footage leopard, which takes to a tree... walk, walk....

Finally the leopard jumps from the tree far enough in the distance for Tobo to plug it with his rifle where it doesn't appear in the same frame as our men.


Commentary: Uh, huh. Suspenseful, am I right? Urggh.


It runs off. Ray tells us it was a close one, because we certainly didn't see that ourselves.


Scene 25: Somewhere behind them, the safari are menaced by the loudest pride of stock footage lions, ever.

No wait, they're not menaced. There is stock footage lions, lots of inserted roars, and then we see our safari marching through plantlife without any comment on the lions or any indication that they're anywhere near one another (which makes sense, seeing as how lions are on the savanna, and we're in dense jungle). We see hippo, which also can't be anywhere near our group, since they're supposed to have gone up a mountain where hippos would be hard pressed to travel.

Stock footage crocs.


Scene 26: Ray & Tobo come to the river... presumably the one in which our hippo and croc lives, despite the fact they're supposed to be on the side of a mountain right now.

Tobo wants to find a vine bridge, but Ray says they'll just swim it. They build a simple raft for their things and Ray goes into the water. Tobo hangs out on the bank, having not told Ray that swimming in the crocodile infested water is probably dumb (hmm... maybe he isn't as grateful as I thought).

Crocodile swimming ... I suppose in the direction of Ray... who apparently doesn't notice that Tobo didn't follow, even though he keeps looking back in the other man's direction.

Finally, he notes Tobo's standing on the bank, after he's three quarters of the way across. He calls to Tobo to get moving, and he does so. He splashes pathetically, so maybe he should have shared with Ray that he can't really swim. Ray finds his porter on his way to drowning to be amusing. The crocodile, I think - he is stock footage after all, seems to be drawn away from Ray toward the splashing Tobo.

After an interminable amount of time, Ray spots the big crocodile closing in on Tobo and swims out to save him (Crabbe was an Olympic medalist and had played Tarzan where he did plenty of swimming, so getting him out of his shirt and into the water was a natural progression for this movie... and he did look good without his shirt).

After another ridiculously long period of time in which we cut between Tobo swimming and the crocodile closing in, Ray finally reaches them and intercepts the crocodile with his knife blade. There is much rolling around as Ray stabs and stabs at the crocodile, while Tobo reaches shore... finally....





Commentary: And Tobo seems to switch between flailing around spastically and actually swimming with good form from shot to shot. I'm not sure how the gator wrestling was handled between Crabbe & the crocodile - I'm assuming it was a puppet of some sort, but the film's degradation helps out here, as the fight looks decent enough.


With the threat taken care of and with them on the shore again, they continue on their way toward the plane wreck.


Uh, just 'cause... shirtless guys.








Scene 27: We peek in on the safari and repeated stock footage (hyenas seem popular with the safari group).


Scene 28: Back with Ray & Tobo still jungle traveling.


Commentary: Please tell me we're finally getting somewhere... please.


Tobo points out that they're now entering the territory of the white witch, which involves stock footage of animals (zebras & elephants).


Commentary: Oh, for f*'s sake, would you let them at least reach the f-ing plane, at least!


Scene 29: Back with safari, the group must have taken a different way (maybe using that vine bridge that Tobo mentioned, but we didn't see) because they've also reached the white witch's reputed territory, and the safari porters and bearers won't take another step. Carl tries to triple his payment to them, but they refuse to cross into the taboo lands.

He tries to tell Marie to stay with them, while he goes forward, but she distrusts that he'll come back if he finds the riches out there alone. The two of them go on alone.

Into more stock footage of lions in a grasslands environment that in no way matches the jungle setting they're marching around through. Oh, cute lion cubs!


Scene 30: Back with Ray and Tobo... still walking.... Ray talks up the danger. Tobo insists where B'wana goes, he goes (oh, that's so sweet).


Scene 31: Back to Carl and Marie... walking.... They comes face to face (in that not in the same shot, stock footage way of things) with a lion. Carl warns Marie not to move, so the lion won't charge them. It turns around lazily and walks off ... that was close! (Yawwwwnnnn.)


Scene 32: Ray and Tobo arrive at the overgrown wreck. Finally.

Ray investigates and finds the remains of the pilot. Ray chooses now to tell Tobo his tale about the robbery that had occurred at the bank. Ray's father committed suicide after being accused of being an accomplice of Stockwell's (as we know from the blurb). Ray doesn't find the goods in the plane and suggests that if T.F.'s daughter survived, she may be the mysterious white witch of the legends in the area (duh).


Scene 33: Tobo leaves to retrieve some sort of food, as their stores are dangerously low, while Ray continues to investigate the plane for any clues.


Scene 34: Meanwhile, Carl and Marie are still wandering around.


Scene 35: And, now, Samson also gets his own scenes of wandering around the set.


Scene 36: Unfortunately for Tobo, it is he who comes across Samson. Ray hears his yells and goes after him.


Commentary: This film is way too long for the story... obviously. For every time that I mentioned the stock footage, add twice where I didn't.


Ray finds Tobo mauled.


Commentary: Which just destroyed the only interesting relationship we're going to be getting and removes one of the most charismatic actors in the piece. And, we still have around 30 minutes to go. *Sigh*


Scene 37: Time to check in with Carl and Marie's wandering, again. Carl steps into a hole and sprains his ankle (that's right, Carl... not Marie). He sends her along the trail to stay on Ray, and he'll follow as fast as he's able. Marie reluctantly leaves him.


Scene 38: Meanwhile Ray finds a group of human footprints and takes off in the direction they're pointing toward. He finds the cave of Doreen. He enters and calls out, but there isn't a response. She did however drop a diamond broach, which he spots in the dirt.

He then senses someone approaching and spins to confront Doreen... but finds Samson instead! Hah!


Commentary: Let this be a lesson: If you're going to go jungle adventuring, never lay down your rifle out of convenient and immediate reach. You're going to be attacked by a wild animal and then look like you're going to dump in your safari-pants.





Samson is about to maul Ray, just as he did Tobo, but Doreen's voice rings out and commands him to stop the attack. Ray asks if they can sit and talk, which she consents to.

During their conversation, it becomes apparent that Doreen doesn't know anything about why Ray would be looking for her father, and has only fragmentary memories of him. Samson remains a threatening presence, but Doreen is confidant he won't charge unless she tells him to. Ray seems less certain.


Commentary: This scene is the typical cute-meet, but I have to say that Buster Crabbe is both amusing and charming throughout it. I never gave him or his jungle flicks much thought and wouldn't have bothered watching this one if it wasn't on my DVD set and ergo, needs a review. But, I can see the attraction he had as a matinee idol in the serials of the 30's & 40's now, and I may be kinda crushing on him just a little.


During their talk, Ray turns conversation toward the jewelry that Doreen wears and asks after if she has anymore. She confirms this, but tells him her father had always stated that no one else is to know where they are. Ray tells her he'd like to see them if they're as pretty as the necklace she's wearing, but he makes the mistake of fondling it around her neck. This sets Samson off, and the ape grabs him and tosses him roughly to the floor.





Doreen orders Samson off, which he listens to with reluctance. Doreen invites Ray to stay because she likes the way that he looks. (Yes, well... I can agree with that one, Doreen.)


Scene 39: Sometime later, Doreen is again flirting outrageously with Ray, though I'm sure she's not meant to know what she's doing. But Ray has to tread lightly about sitting too close to her, because Samson is always there glaring in his direction.

Doreen makes Samson go away and with some freedom to sit near to her and talk some more, Ray goes into how he wants to retrieve the stones that her father gave to her because they were stolen from other people. She finds this to be a confusing concept.

During their argument, he threatens to take the stones with or without her permission. She tells him that she'll have to call Samson if he tries.


Commentary: Boring. I hate the antagonist-cute-meet romance, and you can see this one developing right before your horrified eyes.


Scene 40: Elsewhere, Marie wanders and apparently finally spots Ray and Doreen.

Doreen is telling Ray that she likes him and she doesn't want to fight with him.

Marie is grinning to herself over her success, but Samson is using his Ape-Ninja powers to sneak[ing] up soundlessly behind her, despite his crashing through the plant life. He grabs Marie in a pretty brutal looking backbreaking move.

Ray tries to get Doreen to call off the ape, but she stands there watching. Samson then flips Marie hard to the ground, when he sees Ray grabbing Doreen to shake the sense into her. Samson charges at Ray, but Doreen then calls him off, while Ray and his pistol go to check on Marie's condition.




Ray finds Marie battered, but basically okay.


Commentary: Man, I was going to give props to the movie too, for dispatching her in such an unexpectedly brutal manner. But, she doesn't even look bruised. Feh!


Marie reveals to Ray, as Doreen glares with her simple but potentially deadly jealous pout face, that she came after him to warn him that Carl intends to murder him for the treasure they found out he's after. Despite barely having met him, she doesn't want him to be killed by Carl. Ray doesn't buy it. But, he does explain to her that he hasn't found any treasure because Sampson could easily tear either of them limb from limb. She asks why he doesn't just shoot it, but he says he couldn't do that after it has been looking after Doreen all this time, who is basically an innocent person. Marie conspires with him to build a trap for Samson then, so they can get the treasure. She offers to explain how to do so, in exchange for a bit of the money for herself.


Scene 41: An unknown amount of time later, Carl has closed in on their position.

Doreen is on a stroll with Sampson. Ray and Marie have built their temporary cage for the ape. Doreen asks after what Ray's doing, but he explains it away as a safe place to sleep so that the leopards can't sneak up on him. She asks why he doesn't just sleep in the cave, and innocently wanders into it to test its strength. The door for the enclosure isn't in place so he and Marie watch to see if Doreen will understand what they're planning, but she just gives him a snotty "whatever" and leaves again with Samson.


Scene 42: Later, they finally get the whole thing completed. Highly conveniently, Samson wanders in again - this time without Doreen - looking for fruit. Marie and Ray set bait in the cage and hide out.


Commentary: 12 minutes to go....


They trap a now pissed off Samson.


Scene 43: Marie wanders off. Ray returns to the cave to look for the jewels. Instead of also returning to the cave, Marie is off in the jungle calling for Carl, who is standing weirdly at an outcropping of rock...(?)

They meet up and Marie fills him in on what he's missed.


Scene 44: Back in the cave, Ray finds the stash in the cave version of a wall safe. But, when he leaves, Carl is there with a gun & Marie at his side. Carl demands the box, but because he chose to get too close, Ray knocks the gun out of his hand with a good throw. They start fisticuffs, as Marie ignores the fact that she has her own gun so she can just watch, as women in these situations are wont to do.

Carl starts getting his ass beat, but then Ray punches him to the ground where the gun is lying. He shoots Ray!


Scene 45: We see Ray still breathing, but he's out so Carl and Marie take off with the box of jewelry. Doreen espies them making their way through the jungle and notes that Carl is holding her box.

She pursues them.


Scene 46: Meanwhile, Ray comes to. He wavers to his feet with a grazing head wound. He also sets off in pursuit.


Scene 47: Samson rattles his cage. Carl & Marie trample through the jungle. Ray stumbles after them. Doreen marches after the two with her box of pretty stones. Carl & Marie trample through the jungle.


Scene 48: At the outcropping where Carl had been waiting before, he decides to open up the jewelry box to see what exactly they've gotten hold of. Ray stumbles. Doreen chases.

Finally, Doreen comes into their clearing and goes straight for the box, which Carl wrestles with her over. Carl suggests that Doreen may want to come with them instead of fighting over the treasure, but Marie objects and finally pulls her own gun to use on Doreen. This lasts all of two seconds and then Carl has disarmed her and chases her off with a threat of violence. Carl then turns on the innocent, if bratty, Doreen with a vague threat of sexual violence allowing Marie to storm off - presumably to find Ray or release the gorilla....


Scene 49: Ray stumbles around. Marie runs through the jungle the way she and Carl came. Samson riles around in his cage. Marie dashes. Ray stumbles. He hears Doreen yell.

He sees Carl molesting Doreen and rushes him, where they once again tussle. More fisticuffs, with Ray at a disadvantage, having been shot and all.


Scene 50: Marie scoots and finally comes back to Samson, where after some nicely acted hesitance, she lets him loose so he can go after Doreen and thereby punish Carl for his treachery.

She's self-satisfied, until Samson rushes in her direction and she has to run off screaming for her own life. I'm sure it will not come as a shock, but she trips. And falls. And sits there.


Scene 51: In the meantime, Carl and Ray are still fisticuffing one another. Doreen stands there like a moron making faces, instead of grabbing her jewels while the men are so occupied. Samson comes crashing out of the jungle, presumably having just mauled Marie, to death this time.


Commentary: I joke a bit, but the prolonged fist fight between Buster and Barton is well coreographed and feels like a brutal fight for survival. It's not very realistic, considering that Ray is still dealing with his concussed head from the gunshot's glancing blow to his skull, but it is nevertheless well played out. Doreen is just pissing me off though with that typical 'I am woman, see me stand here' act.


This time Carl wins and Ray is laid out. Before he gets shot again, Carl sees Samson too close for comfort and shoots at him. Doreen stands there.

Samson takes several shots, but keeps going and Carl is forced to retreat into the jungle without his jewels, where we can assume he'll meet a sticky end judging by the harsh man-screams we hear.

Doreen still stands there. Ray recovers and puts his arms around Doreen. Carl's demise is then confirmed, unlike with Marie.





Samson tries to return to his mistress, but falls dead just short of the clearing. Ray tells Doreen it may be better that way, as they couldn't have taken him "with us", just assuming that she's leaving with him and the jewels.


Commentary: Obviously, if this were my movie, she'd pull out a dagger and shank him good in the guts reminding him that she told him the jewels were HERS, as he bleeds out. This is not my movie, however.


And, so, even though the DVD timer tells me we should have over a minute left, we get "The End" with Doreen resigned to following Ray back to the world and giving the jewelry back to who they belong to clear his father's tarnished name.


The Good: Buster Crabbe and Prince Modupe were great and the chemistry between them was instant, natural and really helped us buy Tobo's devotion to him for saving his life, twice, before the third time was the charm.

The depicted attack on Marie, even though it was ridiculously without consequence, was still pretty brutal looking by Samson.

Ray "Crash" Corrigan is a monkey-suit legend just for the sheer number of suit-apes he played. His depictions always gave these ape-men distinct personalities underneath the costuming, and he does so here as well.

I liked the opening music very much.

Crabbe was wonderfully endearing and cute in his scenes when he meets Doreen.

The fistfight coreography was nice, especially the second brawl between Ray and Carl.


The Bad: As per the usual jungle-movie requirement, they get carried away with the stock animal footage which drags down the film.

In the very beginning, we needed a lot more use of character names and a decent indication of time-transition to set us up for being in the 'present'.

This could also have used more judicious editing in general. This story did not require the amount of time it took to tell, even though the story itself wasn't badly told. By the end, things really have gotten draggy, even with the well done fistfighting.


Other Thoughts: The IMDB only gives this a score of 3.9, which seems much too harsh to me. I'd say this is a close to average little flick. Not exactly special, but the acting is handled well (except for the child in the beginning). It is too long, but it isn't boring enough to warrant such a low score. The other issue with the film are about the age of it and Mill Creek's non-restoration work of it, which I won't count against it.


The Score: I don't know. I actually found myself not minding this film nearly as much as I had feared. The acting work of Buster and Prince kept me engaged and though expected, as a minority character, I missed the interaction between the two as soon as Tobo was dispatched. The film could have been much more painful without these two's magnetism on screen, but I can't deny that jungle tales are not something that I would usually voluntarily watch. The fact that I wasn't bored through most of it gives this one a...

2.75 Stars


-end-
Tags: review nabonga
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