CALL OF THE SAVAGE (1935)
Article #640 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-15-2002
Posting Date: 5-10-2003
A jungle boy attempts to help a princess of the lost kingdom of Mu return to her world. Unfortunately, he is the target of fortune hunters because the bracelet he wears has half the formula of a cure for infantile paralysis.
The jungle boy is named Jan, which not only rhymes with Tarzan but reads like Jane with an “e” removed. His pet chimp is called Chicma (kind of like Cheetah). Therefore, I feel safe enough in assuming that we’re dealing with a Tarzan clone of sorts, and considering that he swings through the jungle on vines, that seems apt. He doesn’t have a jungle yell, but he does grin a lot, if that counts, and he speaks in stilted English. All in all, this serial* is kind of a cross between THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN and THE LOST CITY; unfortunately, it’s not up to the level of either of these. Part of the problem is that once it establishes the characters and the basic plot direction early on in the second episode, it spends the next eight episodes wandering aimlessly from cliffhanger to cliffhanger before any serious attempt is made to have our characters head to the lost kingdom of Mu; about the only plot point in this part of the serial is the recovery of one amnesiac character’s memory. The power struggle in Mu is the most interesting part of the story; however, since they don’t reach it until chapter 11, this whole sequence is rushed; they should have reached the kingdom earlier in the serial and spent more time here than the endless series of jungle perils. Plenty of animal stock footage is used to pad out the episodes; at least there is a fairly wide array of animal life on parade to hold the attention. On the plus side, the cliffhangers don’t cheat as much as some other serials; in fact, I was surprised at how they didn’t cheat in certain scenarios where it seemed certain that they would. Nonetheless, a goodly portion of this serial is a slog. Jan is played by a young Noah Beery, Jr.
* Incidentally, when I first wrote this review, I mistakenly spelled this word “Cereal”, which just goes to show you should never write a review when you’re hungry.