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DRUMS OF AFRICA (director: James B. Clark; screenwriters: Robin Estridge/story by Arthur Hoerl; cinematographer: Paul Vobel; editor: Ben Lewis; music: Johnny Mandel; cast: Lloyd Bochner (David Moore), Frankie Avalon (Brian Ferrers), Mariette Hartley (Ruth Knight), Michael Pate (Vilado), Hari Rhodes (Kasongo), Torin Thatcher (Jack Cuortemayn), George Sawaya (Arab), Peter Mamakos (Chavera), Ron Whelan (Boat Captain); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Philip N. Krasne/Al Zimbalist; MGM; 1963)
Another Tarzan-like African jungle tale, except this B-film is insulting to Arabs.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Another Tarzan-like African jungle tale, except this B-film is insulting to Arabs– depicted as brutish slave-traders. Director James B. Clark (“A Dog of Flanders”/”Flipper”/”Misty”) efficiently directs but never gets this drum-beater jungle flick to send a clear message about its intent other than show the Arabs as nasty slave-traders who beat blacks and act like beasts. In the middle of this dreary jungle setting, costar Frankie Avalon, playing an earnest juvenile, takes time out to sing a few misplaced songs that are too ridiculous to take seriously. It’s scripted byRobin Estridge from a story by Arthur Hoerl.

Aggressive engineer David Moore (Lloyd Bochner), in 1897, is sent to Equatorial East Africa to plan a new railway route.Tagging along with him isBrian Ferrers (Frankie Avalon), the callow nephew of the railroad’s owner, who believes this trip will make a man out of him. In Edwardstown, the travelers meet the elderly gruff white hunter Jack Cuortemayn (Torin Thatcher), who refuses to be their guide to the site of the proposed railroad tunnel because he believes the railroad will damage the quality of life for the impoverished but happy-go-lucky natives. Cuortemayn and mission worker Ruth Knight (Mariette Hartley) warn the impatient Moore that he should not start his safari until a band of dangerous Arab slavers leave the area. The headstrong Moore, in a rush to reach the site and save the railroad money, ignores the advice and hires another guide, only to be rescued by Cuortemayn and Ruth from an attack by the slavers. A jungle romance develops between womanizer Moore and the lonely virgin missionary worker, a relationship which Cuortemayn attempts to break up by agreeing to be a guide for the railroad man and having Ruth escorted to her mission hospital site by the natives. But Ruth overhears their conversation and treks to the mission without them, only the slavers capture Ruth and threaten to sell her as a valuable virgin slave to someone in Damascus. Cuortemayn and Moore locate where the slavers hold their captives in a secret mountain cave, and their surprise attack frees all the captives. The men then use the dynamite meant to blast a tunnel for the railroad, to instead blow to smithereens the slavers trapped in the mountain cave.

At best a routine jungle pic, which was about as exciting as watching a miscast Frankie comb his hair.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”