9 October 2003 | bsmith5552
Superior Republic Cliffhanger!
"Jungle Girl" is based on the novel of the same name written by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. The main character is a girl named Nyoka (Frances Gifford), who has been raised in the jungle by her father Dr. Meredith (Trevor Bardette) and has gained the trust of the natives.
The good doctor has access to a large cache of diamonds accessible only by the possessor of a lion shaped amulet which allows the holder to pass by the native guards. The doctor plans to use the diamonds to benefit the native population of the area. However, Dr. Meredith has an evil twin brother Bradley (also Trevor Bardette). Jack Stanton (Tom Neal) and his partner Curley (Eddie Acuff) along with the evil Latimer (Gerald Mohr) arrive at the village by plane. Latimer learns of the diamonds and arranges to have the Doctor taken to the city and murders him replacing him with his evil twin.
The rest of the serial has the amulet and/or the diamonds changing hands between Nyoka, native boy Wakimbu (Tommy Cook) Jack and Curley, Latimer and the evil native chief Shamba (Frank Lackteen), the gasoline supply for the airplane being sabotaged amid several death defying but convincing cliffhangers. The comely Gifford takes even on a lion and a gorilla.
As serials go, this is arguably one of the best of all time. It has the look and feel of the more expensive Tarzan series being produced at MGM at the same time. The stuntwork is outstanding. Helen Thurston doubling Gifford pulls off some really convincing acrobatic vine swinging and David Sharpe doubling just about everyone else is at the top of his game as well.
The fetching Frances Gifford and Tom Neal were just embarking on promising careers when this serial was made. Gifford did manage to move on to "A" list features for a while, but was involved in a serious car accident in 1948 which caused her some emotional problems and effectively ended her career. Neal on the other hand, self destructed. His well publicized womanizing, brawling and hair trigger temper relegated him to poverty row quickies until his famous fight with Franchot Tone over actress Barbara Payton, black listed him and ended his career.
Trevor Bardette appeared in countless other films well into the fifties, usually westerns. Tommy Cook had appeared a year earlier as Little Beaver in "The Adventures of Red Ryder". Gerald Mohr made an excellent villain and enjoyed a long career.
Followed by a sequel of sorts, "Perils of Nyoka" (1942).