BOMBA, THE JUNGLE BOY (director: Ford Beebe; screenwriters: Jack DeWitt/story by Roy Rockwood; cinematographer: William Sickner; editor: Roy Livingston; cast: Onslow Stevens (George Harland), Peggy Ann Garner (Pat Harland), Johnny Sheffield (Bomba), Charles Irwin (Andy Barnes), Smoki Whitfield (Eli), Martin Wilkins (Mufti); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Walter Mirisch; TCM; 1949)
“It’s aimed for an unsophisticated audience, who want a Tarzan-like flavor of the African jungle.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The now 17-year-old Johnny Sheffield was too old to play again Boy in the Tarzan series, so producer Walter Mirisch hired him for cheapie indie studio Monogram to this time play Bomba in another Tarzan-like hokum jungle story. This was the first of 12 Bomba films Sheffield made. The best that can be said about them was they made lots of money for the studio and if you can let your hair down and accept it for what it is, it’s not bad. It’s aimed for an unsophisticated audience, who want a Tarzan-like flavor of the African jungle. Ford Beebe (“The Lost Volcano”/”Lord of the Jungle“/”The Dalton Gang“)effectively directs such nonsense. It’s written byJack DeWitt and based one of the kid novels in the Bomba series by Roy Rockwood.
Father and daughter photographers, George Harland (Onslow Stevens) and the teenager Pat (Peggy Ann Garner), are on a photography safari in Africa, and George’s old pal Andy Barnes is the local game warden heading the safari with Wassai guide Eli (Smoki Whitfield) as their trusted tracker.The impatient and unpleasant George announces he wants photos taken of animals no one else has done and is willing to take risks to get them. This causes Pat to be influenced by dad and go off the beaten path to be attacked by a leopard in the jungle. Rescued by Bomba, a white boy living alone in the jungle and raised by a now deceased old misanthropic healer. The feisty Pat relies on Bomba to protect her and take her back to her father.
Not much of a story to get excited over. Kids will probably like it better than adults. The small-budget black-and-white film uses throughout stock footage from the 1930 documentary Africa Speaks.
REVIEWED ON 6/27/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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