Nabonga (1944)

NABONGA (1944)
Article #1391 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-4-2005
Posting Date: 6-3-2005
Directed by Sam Newfield
Featuring Buster Crabbe, Barton MacLane, Fifi D’Orsay

An explorer is intent on finding a fortune in jewelry that was lost in the jungle due to a plane crash.

All hail NABONGA! This is what jungle epics are all about! What more can you ask for?? It’s got brutal action! It’s got hot, savage romance! You’ll see sights that you never dreamed possible! You’ll see the production values of Hollywood at its most elaborate! You’ll see some of the brightest stars to ever shine in the Tinseltown sky! You’ll see — uh, you’ll see —

Wait a second.

(DS slaps himself several times across the face.)

That’s better.

Please excuse the reaction. The fact of the matter is that this low budget jungle flick from PRC is the first I’ve seen since FORBIDDEN JUNGLE, and compared to that one, this one looked like CITIZEN KANE. It’s simply that this middling jungle movie looks so much better in every department. I found myself appreciating the mere fact that at least some effort was made to make the jungle set here look like a real jungle, that some effort was made to tell its story in an effective way, and that the acting showed a certain level of competence. Actually, on its own terms, it’s really not too bad. It keeps the safari section from taking over the movie, it has a slightly offbeat plot for a jungle movie, Prince Modupe plays a more dignified jungle native than is usually found in these movies, and the scene where Julie London (the girl who grew up in the jungle with the gorillas) flirts with a nervous Buster Crabbe (the explorer), who is more concerned about incurring the wrath of Julie’s protector, Samson the gorilla (Ray Corrigan) actually comes across as being comic by design. Still, this scene does have one howler line, to wit — “You must be that white witch I’ve heard so much about.”

P.S. I can’t believe I used the phrases “PRC” and “production values” in the same review.

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