Bomba The Jungle Boy, Volume Two (1952 – 1955/Monogram/Allied Artists)/Master Of Ballantrae (1952/Warner)/Presenting Lily Mars (1943/MGM/Warner
Archive DVDs)/Wild Things: Creepy
Crawlers + Deadliest Critters
Picture: C+ Sound: C+/C/C/C+ Extras: D/C/C/D Main Programs: C+
PLEASE NOTE: Bomba, Ballantrae and Lily Mars are only available from
Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the
some titles aimed at families that you should know about…
Bomba The Jungle Boy, Volume Two (1952 – 1955) concludes the
release of the underrated B-movie series that Warner Archive started issuing in
a Volume One set we reviewed at this
second set of films are not as good, get away from the title character (Johnny
Sheffield) too much and Walter Mirisch eventually left as producer, with
Director Ford Beebe taking over as Allied Artists took over Monogram. The
uneven writing, repeats of aspects of previous films in the series and it
turned out Mirisch added more to the series as it lost the innocence and fun of
the first films.
African Treasure (1952, can a
rare material that also contains diamonds be preserved before it is gutted for
all its worth?)
Bomba & The Jungle Girl (1952)
Safari Drums (1953, Allied starts
taking over from here)
The Golden Idol (1954), the series
goes widescreen from here)
Killer Leopard (1954, co-starring an
up and coming Beverly Garland)
and Lord Of The Jungle (1955) barely
wrapping up what should have been a much longer-running series.
No doubt TV had something to do with the series ending, but the series had more
potential and the character was never revived again, plus Sheffield
never really worked in film again.
The black and white image on all six films even out with the earlier 1.33 X 1
playback on the first three films on par with the previous set, while the
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 on the rest should have been better all
around, we still get more soft shots than expected, stock footage looks worse
and some shots show there age, yet we also get some of the best shots on both
sets when some scenes hold up extraordinarily well for their age. The
lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono can be lower than I would have liked in volume on
some of the films, but at their best they sound pretty good. There are no
1950s, Errol Flynn was still a big star and popular enough that Warner Bros.
thought he could still be big box office so they again paired him with Director
William Keighley, bankrolled a big production based on a Robert Lewis Stevenson
novel and hoped for another success like The
Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this
site), but the resulting film of The
Master Of Ballantrae (1952) was more of a comedy and when you add all the
now politically incorrect comments and intended jokes (even if they do not
work) of the Irish and the Scottish, you get an adventure film without enough
adventure or grace.
Shot in Scotland, England and Italy, it is an ambitious effort production wise
and the cast is not bad, but the slower pace of the film and its many
distractions also make Flynn seem more
tired that the film should and it makes one realize how much older he became since
Robin Hood playing a pirate here and trying to make Bonnie Prince Charles the
King of England. Roger Livesey, Anthony Steele and Yvonne Furneaux are
not bad there, but the film also sometimes pays like one of the many cheap
B-movie imitators lesser studios were making to cash in on the likes of the
original Robin Hood when it hits dull spots.
We get some fight scenes that are elaborate and the money is on the screen, so
it is worth a look, but have patience.
The 1.33 X 1 image could use some work and/or a new transfer, especially as the
film was lensed by the legendary cinematographer/genius Jack Cardiff, B.S.C.,
whose use of dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor is stunning as usual.
Warner wanted this to look great and even here, you can see how much. Unfortunately, the lossy Dolby Digital 1.0
Mono can be rough, distorted, have flutter and be brittle meaning the film
might need some work.
Extras include a text page on the cast, a few stills for the film and four trailers
for other Flynn films including this one.
Garland gives a uniquely mature, controlled performance as the title character
in Director Norman Taurog’s Presenting
Lily Mars (1943), an MGM backstage musical comedy with Garland as the older
sister of a family who wants to see her succeed in this mixed adaptation of the
Booth Tarkington novel that has her falling for stage production producer Van
Heflin, but he seems too old for her and they never have much chemistry, but there
are some funny moments, though the songs are only so memorable.
Still, Garland in the hands of and it is worth a
look for what does work, including Garland's
performance unto itself. Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra also show up and
some of the musical numbers are well-produced.
Maybe issues on how to handle the film with WWII considerations threw
the makers off, but it has enough moments to give it a look.
The 1.33 X 1 black and white image is not bad for the format, but lacks the
fine detail that would be in an MGM 35mm print for a production like this,
though I guess we'll see a Blu-ray of this one some day. The lossy Dolby
Digital 1.0 Mono can be low and sometimes distorted, so be careful of playback
Extras include the musical short Heavenly Music, Jun e Allyson/Van Heflin
radio version of the film, several song outtakes including the never-used Paging Mr. Greenbacks (meant for raising
war funds in WWII), Alternate (with Broadway
Rhythm) and Stereo versions of Where There's
Music and an underrated Tex Avery MGM cartoon called Who Killed Who? that
remains a great send-up of detective mystery films very much worth your time.
we have two DVDs of the hit special interest TV series Wild Things: Creepy Crawlers + Deadliest
Critters (2012) with Dominic Monaghan hosting and traveling anywhere to
find some of the most unique and rarely seen animals, creatures and other great
forms of life we have seen in a larger cycle of such shows in the last few
decades. This one is not bad, but some
of how much you like it will depend on how much you like Monaghan. He’s a decent host, but these shows are a
near glut and it is barely able to hold its own. I’ll have to see more to know what I think of
the series as a whole.
no extras on either DVD, but the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is not
bad throughout with some minor staircasing and detail issues, but color is
usually good. The lossy Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo also has some occasional location issues, but is fine otherwise and
can be a tad harsh at time.
To order Bomba, Ballantrae and Lily Mars,
go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at: