Picture: C+ Sound: C Extras: C- Film: B-
is another surprise serial produced by Universal Pictures, and this VCI DVD set
is the one to own. The entire program
has 12 chapters and is based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond, the creative
force behind Flash Gordon. Jungle Jim (Grant Withers) is on a safari
into the deepest parts of Africa in order to find a heiress, but what he stumbles
across is beyond his wildest dreams. The
heiress (Betty Jane Rhodes) is not missing like originally though, but that has
taken to the environment and is now the ruler over a tribe of natives! Sound a little like Apocalypse Now?
It gets better! Not only is she a ruler figure, but she is
also under the spell of a mysterious figure known as The Cobra (Henry Brandon)
who causes her to be a more evil or enemy like figure. As most can figure out, Jungle Jim finds and
rescues her, but their doom lies ahead as they must break free from the depths
of the jungle. Watching this almost
seems like a black and white version of some of the short portions of Indiana Jones (any of the three films
or that series will do).
The shortcoming of this
serial is simply that the action never picks up like it should. While the setup of the entire program was
established, it never really goes anywhere.
It was almost like they held back so that the next chapter would go
somewhere, but they all end up being flat looking back in a broader view of
Luckily for fans and the
curious minds will find the prints used for this DVD to be in excellent shape
delivering a nice 1.33 X 1 transfer of black and white that impresses being as
old and dated as the serial is. Despite
some grain, scratches, and softness the overall quality is better than
expected. I like the prints better here
than the ones used on Jungle Girl
(reviewed on this site). The contrast
seems to work much better with better whites and blacks. The sound is 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono, which
shows the age of the optical mono and while it may not be overly harsh at any
moment, it is pretty lackluster in nature.
Also check out from VCI
the Jungle Girl serial, Dick Tracy Serial, and the cartoon
collection from the Fleischer Studio’s called Somewhere in Dreamland all of which are reviewed on this site! The only extras on this disc are a few
biographies and some trailers for other serials, mostly the ones just named.
- Nate Goss