Thursday, 15 July 2010

Nabonga (1944)

I’m still hooked on the jungle movie theme. Nabonga, made in 1944 by Poverty Row studio PRC, turns out to be a reasonably entertaining example of the breed.

An aircraft crashes somewhere in Darkest Africa. On board are an embezzler, the stolen loot from the bank he worked at, and his young daughter. Years later Ray Gorman (Buster Crabbe) the son of the manager of the bank, hears a rumour of a downed aircraft somewhere in the jungle. He sets out to find the embezzled money, to repair his father’s reputation (he was apparently held somewhat to blame) and to right the wrong that had been done so long ago. The rumour also speaks of a mysterious white witch living somewhere deep in this very forest.

The white witch is in fact the daughter of the embezzler, and she’s become a kind of female Tarzan. She is not all that enthusiastic about Gorman’s plans. And convincing her to co-operate isn’t easy, since she has a gorilla friend who is devoted to her and who tears apart anyone who threatens her (gorillas being notoriously savage and bloodthirsty creatures).

Naturally there are other sinister figures also on the trail of the crashed aircraft and the treasure it contains. The adventures are fairly predictable, and there’s lots of stock footage, but it’s done with a certain amount of energy and it remains entertaining. If you’re a fan of the jungle adventure genre it’s worth a look.

There are various public domain copies of this movie floating about. They’re not great, but this movie is not exactly great cinema so it’s not likely to get released in the Criterion Collection any time soon. The dodgy quality of the PD prints does at least give the right B-movie viewing experience!


zunguzungu said...

"The white witch is in fact the daughter of the embezzler, and she’s become a kind of female Tarzan."

FWIW, the good Tarzan movies of the 1930's were sort of modeled after "Trader Horn," which is why -- I think -- they're sort of different than the Burroughs' novels. In the case of the first Tarzan movie, for example, the same director used much of the same jungle footage (he actually had it left over from Trader Horn) and a lot of the decisions they made make more sense if you regard it as a kind of imitation of Trader Horn. But I mention all that just because I wanted to point out that, in that sense, the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan is, himself, a character modeled on the "white witch" character from Trader Horn (and Nabonga more directly based on that original than Tarzan).

Jeremy Richey said...

Hey D,
I wanted you to know that I have tagged you in a meme. Feel free to participate if you have time and you would like to.

dfordoom said...

Jeremy, thanks, I'll have to give it some thought. I do have one idea for a theme but I'm not sure if I can find enough screencaps to do it.