Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

CONGO BILL


CONGO BILL 15 chapter Columbia serial (1948). Directors: Spencer Bennet; Thomas Carr.

The heiress to the Culver circus may be a blond queen of a lost tribe in Africa known as Lureen (Cleo Moore). Congo Bill (Don McGuire), who works for the circus, is determined to find out, but he's unaware that the new managers of the circus would prefer that the heir to their business never be found. Congo Bill was actually a strip that appeared in Action Comics along with Superman and other heroes; he later metamorphosed into "Congorilla," who could exchange minds with a big ape. Congo Bill has a somewhat similar plot line to the far superior Tiger Woman, but that's where the resemblance ends. Unlike the Tiger Woman, Lureen basically does nothing for 15 chapters [she doesn't even show up until chapter six], and she's played inadequately by the busty but talentless Moore. McGuire could make an impression as a second lead or supporting player in such films as The Fuller Brush Man, but in this he displays little star charisma. There are some acceptable cliffhangers -- Bill caught in a turning mill stone; descending spikes etc. -- but this is one of Columbia's dullest serials. "Janu the Jungle Boy" from the comic book stories has been replaced with the older "Kohla. "

Verdict: Watch Tiger Woman instead. **

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