KING OF THE CONGO (1952)
Article 2505 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-12-2008
Posting Date: 6-21-2008
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace Grissell
Featuring Buster Crabbe, Gloria Dea, Leonard Penn
An Air Force captain goes undercover in Africa to discover why communist agents are at work there. He gains the name “Thunda” from a tribe of cave people when he rings a gong. He discovers the communists are after a radioactive element more powerful than uranium.
Quite frankly, I felt sorry for whichever serial I’d watch next after having viewed the excellent DRUMS OF FU MANCHU; I knew it would look limp and uninteresting next to that one. For the first several episodes of this serial, it did live down to my expectations; the plot and conflicts seemed confusing and ill-defined, and, despite the fact that our main character is supposedly the hero of the cave people, they actively put him in peril. However, it improves once Thunda stops pretending to be on the side of the communists, and though it’s hardly a great serial, this one from Columbia is stronger than the ones from Republic in the early fifties. The radioactive element is a Gizmo Maguffin, and the rest of the fantastic content are of the typical jungle sort; scary animals, a gorilla on the loose, the marginal fantasy view of Africa. You do have to admire the good shape 45-year old Buster Crabbe was in, since he spends most of the movie in a loincloth.