Killer Leopard (1954)
Director: Ford Beebe
Cast: Johnny Sheffield, Beverly Garland, Barry Bernard
Synopsis: Movie actress Linda Winters enlists the aid of Bomba the Jungle Boy to help her locate her husband who is searching for diamonds in a jungle stalked by a killer leopard.
Like all of us, Johnny Sheffield looked a lot less cute as a strapping 23-year-old than he did when he was eight years old and making his first appearance as Tarzan’s Boy in Tarzan Finds a Son! He appears more ill-at-ease padding around in a loincloth (especially when indoors) than Johnny Weismuller ever did, and looks more like a cross between an up-and-coming prize fighter and a Brooklyn cabbie than a jungle boy. Having said that, Killer Leopard is a fairly nifty little programmer, and is definitely one of the better entries in Monogram’s bottom-of-the-barrel Bomba series.
The leopard in the title looks a little cross-eyed when shot in close-up, and is a bit surplus to requirements really; in fact, the whole story could easily have been played out without him. The main plot revolves around movie star Linda Winters’ (Beverly Garland – Pretty Poison) search for her husband, Fred (Donald Murphy), an embezzler who’s tired of living in his glamorous wife’s shadow and wants to assert his manhood by buying hot diamonds straight from the mine. It’s difficult to drum up a lot of sympathy for Mr Winters, not only because he has the kind of problems many men would dream of having but because he’s something of an obnoxious arse. He’s guided through the jungle by a short British chap called Charlie Pulham (Barry Bernard), who seems quite an amiable fellow despite being considered a cad by the rest of the cast, one of whom refers to him as scum. Anyway, Bomba guides Linda Winters to the mine for which her husband is headed, setting up a reunion that you just know isn’t going to end well.
Going back to that cross-eyed leopard, he’s vaguely reminiscent of that crocodile that follows Captain Hook around in Peter Pan. He’s reported to be stalking the area in which the movie opens, but at the end of the movie he attacks Bomba at a location far from the original setting. The redundant status of the title character aside, Killer Leopard is an unexpectedly good little B-movie.
(Reviewed 16th November 2014)