Archive for the Adventure-Action Category
The film is based, somewhat loosely I understand, on the 1963 spy thriller of the same name by Alastair MacLain. His earlier The Guns of Navarone was made into a successful movie with Gregory Peck and David Niven and MGM hoped to turn this new novel into another box office winner. The film in fact did well and earned a couple Oscar nominations for special effects and cinematography but lost out to 2001: A Space Odyssey. It also revived the career of Rock Hudson as an action star after he had become somewhat typecast in his pillow talk movies with actresses like Doris Day. Charlton Heston was originally slated to play Hudson’s role as Captain Ferraday but declined saying the script was too weak. While Heston would have shone in the role Rock does just fine as the capable Captain of the USS Tigerfish as it heads towards the North Pole on both a rescue and top secret mission that involves British spies, Russian defectors, U.S Marines and not one single female character in the entire film.
The James Bond film Dr. No, as the story goes, inspired Joe Barbera to try an adventure cartoon with more realistically rendered characters. Wildey is given most of the credit now with how the show finally looked as well as the development of the shows characters. The main characters were Dr. Benton Quest who is always involved in some sort of top secret adventure or another. He always takes his young son Jonny along despite potential dangers. Jonny’s mom died under circumstances I am not clear on yet but it is is possible some sort of intrigue was involved. To make sure Jonny is safe and sound Dr. Quest has employed Race Bannon (a character based on an earlier comic strip called Steve Bannon by Wildey) as a bodyguard and mentor of sorts. In the series’ second episode we are introduced to the Hindu boy Haji though we are never really told who he is and why the Quest group have him hanging around. This may be explained in a later episode and if anybody out there knows where Haji comes from please let me know. The last regular member of the group is Jonny’s dog Bandit, and like many boys in the 60’s I had a little dog named Bandit myself, after the TV show dog. Bandit supplies the comic relief for the show as well as sometimes helping Jonny out of a bind or helping him get into one. Some recurring characters include the sexy Jezebel Jade who is a sort of Mata Hari femme fatale who has some possible romantic connection to Race Bannon though for the most part it is always implied. The evil mastermind of various plots Dr. Zin shows up now and then as Dr. Quest’s nemesis and arch rival.
A couple notable aspects of the show outside its graphic design was that the adventures always took place in some new exotic local and the use of violence, to the point that in each episode cartoon characters actually died. Of the course the people who died were either bad guys or nameless “natives” but characters in cartoons dying off was not something audiences were used to back in 1964. The vibe between Race and Jade at times was a little smoldering too, especially in the episode called Double Danger where something appears wrong with Race and there is even a kissing scene. Wow! The show inspired a couple animated movies and later some TV series later but I have not seen any of them and cannot comment. There is much talk about a live action movie being negotiated but I am not sure where any of that of that is going. But the 26 original episodes are classics and have been released on DVD with some extras. In this post I present a couple of those extras and in my next post I will give you a matinee feature of the Double Danger episode I just introduced. Also in this post I am giving a list of all the 26 episodes with titles and brief description. I did not compile these and got the list from this page at Animated Views. Lots of good stuff on the net and some of the best related to the original and classic shows can be found at this Classic Jonny Quest fan site. And yes, I am old enough to remember seeing the original episodes on an old b/w TV. There are some perks to being over fifty.
LIST OF THE 26 JONNY EPISODES
2) Arctic Splashdown – A deflected missile lands in the frozen wasteland, and the race is on to recover it.
3) The Curse Of Anubis – An Arab chieftain lures the Quest team to Egypt to use them in a plot to unite his people and become their leader. Before the story ends, a mummy will walk again.
4) Pursuit Of The Po-Ho – Dr. Quest goes into the jungle to save a friend kidnapped by natives, and finds himself captured.
5) Riddle Of The Gold – This tale has a trip to India and the first appearance of Quest nemesis Dr. Zin, in a story involving a process to create gold.
6) Treasure Of The Temple – An ancient Mayan city holds the promise of a lost treasure.
7) Calcutta Adventure – This flashback episode is the “origin” of how Hadji joined the Quest team.
8) The Robot Spy – In perhaps the series’ most popular episode, Dr. Zin uses an arachnid-like robot to gain the secret of Dr. Quest’s new ray gun.
9) Double Danger – Dr. Zin and Dr. Quest compete to find a rare plant in Thailand. Race’s old flame, Jezebel Jade, also arrives on the scene to help determine that Race is not who he appears be. This was actually the first episode produced, which explains its weaker animation. One can tell that the Hanna-Barbera animators initially struggled with the more realistic drawing style. Despite improving greatly over the next few episodes, this awkwardness would show up again years later in Super Friends.
10) Shadow Of The Condor – A forced landing in the Andes leads to a meeting with a baron who flew in World War I , and his mute servant. A conflict is decided in an air duel.
11) Skull And Double-Crossbones – Modern-day pirates overpower a Quest expedition and force Jonny to dive for treasure.
12) The Dreadful Doll – Voodoo and a secret submarine base figure into this mystery.
13) A Small Matter Of Pygmies – Another forced landing, this time in a jungle, finds the group chased by pygmies.
14) The Dragons Of Ashida – An insane zoologist and his giant reptiles trap the Quest team on a small island.
15) Turu The Terrible – A search for a special metal leads instead to the discovery of a flying dinosaur controlled by a wheelchair-bound schemer.
16) The Fraudulent Volcano – Dr. Quest unintentionally comes into conflict with Dr. Zin, who is using a volcano as a testing ground for a new weapon.
17) The Werewolf Of The Timberland – French-Canadians and a wolfman figure in this mystery of smuggled gold.
18) Pirates From Below – Criminals attempt to steal another of Dr. Quest’s inventions.
19) Attack Of The Tree People – The boys and Bandit survive a boat fire and come ashore an island, then require the assistance of apes to thwart some would-be kidnappers.
20) The Invisible Monster – A colleague of Dr. Quest disappears after accidentally creating an energy creature.
21) The Devil’s Tower – You just cannot beat an episode with a mile-high mountain, Nazis, and aborigines who speak German.
22) The Quetong Missile Mystery – Poisoned swamp fish, a General Fong, and a secret missile enter into this story.
23) The House Of Seven Gargoyles – Gravity reversal, a dwarf, a submarine, and a glacier— this is a shopping list for a typically exciting Jonny Quest episode.
24) Terror Island – Dr. Quest is kidnapped in Hong Kong, and Race must ask Jade for help in locating him.
25) Monster In The Monastery – Jonny meets monks in Nepal threatened by Abominable Snowmen.
26) The Sea Haunt – A sea monster seems to have a taste for treasure.the Smith Conan comics for marvel I will get working on that.
BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND
By the time the next to last Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film, Tarzan and the Huntress, came out in 1947 Sheffield just was not boyish enough to be boy any longer and he left the movie series to complete high school. Actually I am not sure if he left or was asked to leave by producer Sol Lessor, but in any case the then RKO produced Weissmuller Tarzan films were about over and Weissmuller would go on to do the Jungle Jim films for Columbia Pictures. A young and buff Sheffield was soon snatched up in 1949 by Monogram producer Walter Mirisch to play Bomba the Jungle which was to be loosely based on the paperback series by Roy Rockwood – a pen name used by Stratemeyer Syndicate and used by several writers I assume- but seemed to be more an extension of the Tarzan series and of Sheffield’s boy role. Like any good jungle movie the hero was white, had been lost in the jungle as a baby and raised by animals, learns English somehow but speaks haltingly with few prepositions or articles and has become a legend among the superstitious natives in the African jungle. Bomba is young and full of innocent curiosity, not as cynical as Tarzan yet. Sheffield is in great shape and his Bomba prefers a spear to a knife. Like Tarzan he is curious about white men (‘other’ white men of course. Even in the Jungle Jim series Jim is always referring to ‘white men’ as something other than himself, as though he were closer to local natives he routinely beats the shit out of) and more trusting but uncompromising in his respect for the laws and ways of the jungle he grew up in. And like any good jungle movie the film is loaded with bad bwanas who want to exploit the jungle and its inhabitants in pursuit of lost treasures or untapped resources.
And so is the case in Bomba on Panther Island where our loin cloth clad young hero must not only track down a murderous black panther that kills his pet monkey at the beginning of the show but must deal with unscrupulous bwanas who want to exploit the jungle to build a plantation. Actually the bwanas in this is not really too evil. Robert Maitland (Harry Lewis) just wants to set up the plantation as a way for him and his sister Judy (Allene Roberts) to have a sort of future. Judy pines for the big city lights of America and spends her time grumbling about how boring Africa is. The other white guy is some old geezer named Andy (Charles Irwin) who has all sorts of wisdom since he is old and is always slamming Harry with some of that old guy insight. Also hanging out at the plantation is the sultry and flirtatious French house girl Losana (played by Lita Baron who was in the first Jungle Jim and that was reviewed here and I made some comments about her dance sequence rivaling Tandra Quinn’s dance as Tarantella in Mesa of Lost Women as one of the worst ever in b-movie history) who starts making moves on shy Bomba from the get go. A sort of romance triangle develops between Bomba and the two girls who compete for his attention but Bomba ain’t having none of it as he would rather watch wrestling matches between water buffalos and crocodiles in his free time. And I am serious, there is some stock footage of a fight between a water buffalo and a crocodile in this one. All the while poor Robert Maitland is having a heck of time getting the superstitious natives to finish any of their work and they blame the recent spat of panther attacks on his desecration of sacred forest land for his blasted plantation. If it wasn’t for ol’ Andy sounding like Will Rodgers every other scene Robert would probably chuck the whole thing and head back the big city with July.
And it should come as no surprise that in the end Bomba gets revenge upon the panther for killing his monkey –and a few natives- and no one has sex though the two gals are pretty much primed for a ménage à trios with Bomba. In the end Robert about has had it with it all but suddenly July changes her mind abut the jungle life and Andy waxes philosophically and he decides to stay and deal with the army ants and man eating panthers and find a suitable life for himself and his sister in the middle of a sweltering living hell. Bomba strolls off with his spear to ore adventures. Fans of jungle films who have never seen a Bomba movie will be in for a real treat with this one and people who hate the genre will not be converted. If you are going spend the whole 70 or minutes looking for ‘racist’ stereotypes’ and deriding the film as something beneath you then probably this is not for you. But if you like white guys (and sometimes gals) raised by chimps and speaking in monosyllables and not fearing to tread to places that send natives scurrying the opposite direction then Bomba on Panther Island is for you.