The Golden Idol (1954)
“TERROR REVOLT SPLITS CONGO!”
Director: Ford Beebe
Cast: Johnny Sheffield, Anne Kimbell, Paul Guilfoyle
Synopsis: It’s Bomba the Jungle Boy to the rescue when the evil Arab chieftain Ali Ben Mamoud steals a golden idol from the Watusi tribe.
He wears a loincloth and has a chimp for a mate, but the hero of The Golden Idol isn’t Tarzan – this was the mid-1950s when Hollywood had placed the ageing vine-swinger on a temporary hiatus – but Bomba, the Jungle Boy, who’s Tarzan in all but name. He’s played by Johnny Sheffield, who played Tarzan’s son until he grew too old and got packed off to school in England. Monogram snapped up Sheffield and built the Bomba series around him, but it never really amounted to much, and the series was scrapped in 1955, the year after this lacklustre entry was released.
As you’d expect, The Golden Idol takes place in the depths of the African jungle. It’s hot, and the place is filled with mosquitoes. White people walk around slapping the back of their neck to show just how many of those pesky mosquitoes are buzzing around. Black servants wear jungle shorts and call their masters Bwana, while the native bearers obediently respond to curt commands of ‘Panga, Panga!’ Unusually for Africa, there’s a few Arabs wandering around in search of the titular object, which has been stolen by the Watusi tribe. We never get to meet the Watusis’ but we can imagine just how disgruntled they are by the theft.
Chief baddie is Prince Ali Ben Mamoud (Paul Guilfoyle) who stole the statue from the Watusis. He tells professional adventurer Joe Hawkins (Lane Bradford) that the idol was stolen from him after buying it from the Watusis, but actually it was he who did the stealing, and Bomba reclaimed it for the Watusi tribe and hid it in a safe place until it could be returned to them. Bradford is probably the best thing about a rather tepid affair which suffers from a young leading man who looks decidedly ill-at-ease in nothing but a leopard-skin loin cloth. Anne Kimball (Two Tickets to Broadway) provides the female interest.
(Reviewed 15th November 2014)