BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND (1949)
Article #1562 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-24-2005
Posting Date: 11-21-2005
Directed by Ford Beebe
Featuring Johnny Sheffield, Allene Roberts, Lita Baron
Bomba hunts down a panther which is killing natives working on an experimental farm.
This is the only movie I’ve seen so far from the Bomba series. “Bomba” is to “Boy” as “Jungle Jim” is to “Tarzan”; in other words, the Bomba series served to keep Johnny Sheffield in loincloths in the jungle after his stint in the Tarzan series was over (as the Jungle Jim series did for Johnny Weissmuller). If this movie is representative, then there is at least one thing about the Bomba series that I like better than the Jungle Jim series, and that is a certain lyrical and moody ambiance to the proceedings. In fact, the opening scene of a monkey coming out of the trees into Bomba’s camp, flipping through a journal, meeting up with Bomba, and then being killed by a panther, is effective enough that I thought the movie would turn out to be something special. Such is not the case, though, as the movie rapidly loses steam and gets mired in a subplot about the romantic rivalry for Bomba’s attention between the innocent young sister of man heading the farm and an exotic French-speaking native girl. Eventually, the turgid pace drags the movie down. The main fantastic element in the movie (other than the inherent but marginal element of fantasy in many jungle movies) is an implication that the native girl may actually be the panther herself, but despite the fact that several scenes put this possibility forward, the movie makes no use of the idea dramatically, either as truth or enticing red herring. At this point, I’m going to have to say that the Jungle Jim movies are at least a little more fun.