Zamba (1949)

ZAMBA (1949)
(a.k.a. ZAMBA THE GORILLA)
Article #1053 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-1-2004
Posting Date: 6-30-2004
Directed by William A. Berke
Featuring Jon Hall, June Vincent, Jane Nigh

A mother and her son are separated after bailing out of a malfunctioning airplane. The son develops amnesia, but is befriended by a gorilla who watches after him.

What kind of movie is this? It’s the kind of movie in which there is a lot of fretting about the fates of the mother and the son, but no one sheds a single tear over the death of the father. Maybe spending some time to do so would have cut into the comic relief footage of the cowardly file clerk. We must have priorities.

This is the type of the movie where the credits say that Zamba is played by N’Bonga. This, of course, implies that Zamba is played by a real gorilla rather than an actor in a gorilla suit. I don’t know if Ray “Crash” Corrigan should see that as an insult or a compliment.

This is the type of movie where a person falls from a great height, hits his head, and gets amnesia. He then falls from a rock, hits his head, and recovers his memory.

This is the type of movie where people spend a lot of time treed by wild animals (usually a lion, once a hyena) and spend what feels like hours calling out someone’s name. (“Tommy! Tommy! Tommy!” or “Zamba! Zamba! Zamba!”)

This is the type of movie where the potential romantic couple spends the whole movie insulting and yelling at each other until you-know-what happens in the final reel.

This is the type of movie where I’m tempted to do my review by coming up with a ditty to the tune of the old Oscar Meyer commercial theme, but I give it up after coming up with only a couple of lines, viz.

“My gorilla has a first name; It’s Z-A-M-B-A….”

On the other hand, I do have to give the movie one thing; for a jungle movie, it keeps the safari scenes from taking over. The cast also features a young Beau Bridges (as the amnesiac child) and Darby Jones (as Keega, one of the natives on the safari).

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