30 May 2015 | utgard14
"You good. Father bad."
With Tarzan behind him, Johnny Sheffield moved over to Poverty Row where he would star in his own series for Monogram. Bomba the Jungle Boy is pretty much just Boy from the Tarzan movies grown up. Although I'm not exactly sure how grown up he's supposed to be as he looks like an adult (Sheffield was 18 at the time) but is treated like a young teen by other characters throughout the series. The movies are all juvenile jungle adventure tales with lots of stock footage. They are nowhere near as good as the Weissmuller Tarzan movies but, if you're a fan of those, these will at least keep your attention. Johnny Sheffield made twelve of them before retiring from movies altogether. This first entry in the series has a renowned photographer (Onslow Stevens) and his daughter (Peggy Ann Garner) coming to Africa to take some pictures of wildlife. The daughter gets lost and is rescued by Bomba, a white boy raised in the wild by a misanthropic naturalist. Most of the movie is about the girl trying to get Bomba to lead her back to her father. But Bomba is wary of outsiders and doesn't trust that her father won't try to hurt him.
Sheffield is fine in the role of Bomba, which is hardly challenging. Garner, who was an exceptional child actor (see Jane Eyre for proof) is better than this sort of thing but such was the state of her career as she grew up. She spends most of the movie in a short leopard-print dress looking very cute. Charles Irwin, sounding positively like Scrooge McDuck, plays a character whose primary function in the movie is to argue with the girl's insufferable father, played by Onslow Stevens. Garner and Sheffield are delightful together and their scenes are the highlights of the movie. It's too bad Garner couldn't have stayed with the series. It might have helped if Bomba had a Jane and nobody would've minded killing off her father. I was kind of expecting him to die given how unlikable he was.
There are some fun moments with monkeys and an amusing scene where the native guide explains the difference between native footprints and those of a white man. The use of stock footage is excessive but what really drags the movie down are the repetitive scenes of Stevens and Irwin. The movie basically breaks down like this: cute scene with Sheffield and Garner then back to Irwin telling Stevens he won't allow him to do something but Stevens does it anyway then back to Sheffield & Garner. Rinse, lather, repeat. It gets on your nerves after awhile.