Maybe the low point of this junior jungle series
3 March 2012
This was not the last Bomba movie (two more were made shortly thereafter), but it may be the weakest. The whole series, never terribly well made, was just running out of "spiz" by this time, and it shows.

Playing the villain is Paul Guilfoyle, a longtime Hollywood bad guy (who should not be confused with the current actor of the same name). His character is an evil Arab potentate making trouble in the jungle. Guilfoyle had played a similar role in "Bomba and the Hidden City," but he doesn't reprise that role here. Not exactly. He simply plays a similar character to allow for use of footage from the earlier film.

Those recycled scenes, coupled with familiar stock footage of wild animals, give this movie a particular air of cheapness. Many of the scenes are shot at night, with people dashing around amid the foliage. It's often hard to tell what, if anything, is going on.

And Bomba's jungle seems very small. He keeps coming back to the same places -- the same pond, the same clearing, the same rock formation. Does he really know his way around the primeval forest?

The story is much like those in other Bomba films: Bad guys mistreat the natives, shoot animals and menace a pretty American girl whose work has brought her to the jungle. In this case, the girl is an archaeologist looking for the "Golden Idol of Watusi."

Johnny Sheffield was well past his teens by this point, and his increasing maturity may have doomed the series anyway. At one point in "Golden Idol," someone refers to Bomba as a "jungle man" instead of a "jungle boy." But he still looks young and fit enough to be credible.

It's easy to make fun of Bomba movies, but not really fair. I have to admit that I enjoyed them myself as a boy. Their racial attitudes are outdated, but some far better films of the era were much more insensitive in that regard. All in all, these little jungle adventures are well-meaning, simplistic, good-versus-evil tales. Still, if you want to get acquainted with the character, an early Bomba movie would be a better place to start.
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