King of the Kongo (1929)

Article #1038 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-17-2004
Posting Date: 6-15-2004
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Featuring Jacqueline Logan, Walter Miller, Richard Tucker

A woman searching for her lost father in the jungle hooks up with a secret service agent investigating ivory poachers and the disappearance of fellow agents.

You know, I have to feel a little sorry for moviemakers during the late twenties who were caught between deciding whether to make their movie silent or sound. One of the solutions was to make the movie and release as both; just toss title cards into the silent print. KING OF THE KONGO was released that way, but only the silent print survives. The trouble is it only looks like a silent film about half the time; the other half the time it looks like a sound film. There are long stretches here where people stand around talking and no title cards come up to tell you what they’re talking about. At least one plot point that I should have gotten in the first reel (why the Secret Service agent was investigating in the first place) I didn’t find out until it appeared in a title card in the fourth episode. All in all, it made watching this adventure serial more than a little difficult.

For fans of the fantastic, however, it has several points of interest. Boris Karloff is one of the main bad guys, and he’s called Scarface Macklin (this was before he appeared with Paul Muni in SCARFACE), and he does a fine job. It also has a gorilla wandering around the premises. And finally, there’s about ten seconds of slurpasaur footage in the movie, which doesn’t seem like a lot of slurpasaur until you notice that same ten seconds pops up in practically every other episode. Its function is to scare people when the going gets slow.

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