Nabonga (Review)


Buster Crabbe as Ray Gorman
Julie London as Doreen Stockwell
Prince Modupe as Tobo
Ray Corrigan as Samson (or Nabonga, I guess)

Riding the wave of King Kong Klones (KKK? That ain’t good…), Nabonga succeeds in having the most ridiculous name of the bunch. Buster Crabbe of Tarzan and Flash Gordon fame returns to fight Ming the Merciless in the heat of the jungle for the future of Earth….wait? No Ming? No Rocket Ships? No fun. Stock footage and random gorilla attacks are a poor substitute. The lone bright spot for this movie is the character of Tobo, and he suffers from being a walking, talking, African tribalman stereotype. Still, he’s the only character you will care about in this film. The live action gorilla Nabonga can’t hold a candle to the stop motion magic that was King Kong. Heck, background extras from Planet of the Apes have better characterization than this gorilla. Wait a minute…Statue of Liberty? THAT WAS OUR PLANET!! You Maniacs! You blew it all up! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!!

Mr. Stockwell, embezzler, and his ten-year-old daughter head off on a chartered plane to the darkest heart of Africa. Not on purpose, but thanks to a plane crash, that’s where they end up. Daughter Doreen is distracted by a monkey while her father kills the pilot, having gone stark paranoid over thinking the pilot was after the jewels he stole. A random gorilla attack on some random guy also happens, because we need random gorilla attacks. The gorilla was injured, but Doreen finds it and a friendship is born. She seems pretty calm, despite her father going all Treasure of the Sierra Madre all of a sudden (though that movie won’t be around for four more years.)

Buster Crabbe is Ray Gorman! Who is Ray Gorman? It’s supposed to by Ray “Gunn” Gore-Man, right? NO? Just some dude who’s dad took the fall for the embezzling and is now searching the jungle to clear his father’s name? Okay, I guess. Too bad Mr. Crabbe won’t wake up and act the part. Tribal rumors of a Great White Witch born of a Large House with wings piques his interest and he deduces she must be the daughter of the missing Mr. Stockwell. Buster hears of this tale from local man Tobo. Tobo is the lone decent person in this movie. He agrees to help Buster search the jungle, because he’s honorable, and because the jungle is a dangerous place for a white man. Some snooping money hunters named Marie and Carl overhear and make ready to follow Buster, in order to get the jewels.

In the jungle, stock footage of animals stalk Buster and Tobo at every turn. There is no escape from the animals filmed years, even decades ago, as they have oozed their way into every corner of the jungle, yelling, screaming, and driving men mad. Footage of alligators menace Tobo, but Buster kills the dummy made up to look like the gator that was filmed for a different movie.

A grown up Doreen (and boy, did she grow up good!) wanders the jungle with her gorilla, Samson. Samson? Where the crap does “Nabonga” come from? Someone named this movie after the fact and without watching it, I say. It makes me want so smash things and kill and worship a giant black rectangle. Another gorilla attacks, but Samson stops him. Is that Nabonga? I hope not, as that gorilla is never seen again. Let’s quote a conversation between Buster and Tobo now:

Buster: “White Men do not believe in magic, they know it is only imagination”

Tobo: “Maybe you are right, but I do not know.”

What the crap was that?

Buster finds the plane and the dead pilot, but Tobo is killed by Samson. Damn it! Tobo was cool. Buster is being out acted by the man in the gorilla suit, and even the stock footage of the crocodile. Why are we stuck with him, while Tobo is dead? Bunch of crap. Buster is then menaced by Samson, until Doreen stops him. They talk for a while, then Buster tries to get her to hand over the missing jewels, but she won’t.

Marie shows up just then, and Buster sets up a trap for Samson in case he runs wild, and traps the ape so he can take the jewels. But Marie has brought Carl as well, and Carl beats up Buster. Marie lets out Samson for some reason, who then kills her, then as Buster and Carl fight some more, Carl shoots Samson, who dies, but also kills Carl. What an uninspired ext. Doreen will now go home to civilization with Buster Crabbe, to spend the rest of her days with him. Is that a blessing, or a curse? I shall leave that as an exercise for the reader. There’s not really that much interesting that went on here. There’s not really much not interesting that went one, either. This movie could have made a five minute short, and still had plenty of room for stock footage of animals. Next time, let’s have the movie named after the gorilla get the name of the gorilla correct. It’s not that hard. King Kong wasn’t named Professor Bubbles, for crying out loud.

‘Twas beauty killed the beast…no, sorry, it was Carl.

Rated 3/10 (Gorilla Fight!, Stock Elephant, Papa’s Gone Loco! )

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