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

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Buster Crabbe
KING OF THE CONGO (15 chapter Columbia serial/1952). Directors: Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace Grissell. 

Air Force captain Roger Drum (Buster Crabbe) is to complete a flight to South Africa under the identity of a spy who is to make contact with a subversive "mystery group." Drum crashes, and for a while has no idea who he is, but at first the "reds" see him as their comrade. Since Drum is able to peal a sacred gong he is heralded by the primitive, all-white "rock people" as the heroic "Thun'da," and runs around in a loincloth. Drum/Thun'da first appeared in a brief comic book series -- sub-titled "King of the Congo" -- before Columbia turned it into a minor serial with highly familiar elements. In addition to those nasty reds, who are after a radioactive mineral, there is a group of Cavemen ruled by the corpulent if powerful Kor (Rusty Wescoatt). There is a native princess named Pha (Gloria Dea) and a High Priest (William Fawcett) who wears a long, silly wig and can witness future events in his crystal ball! There's also a cute chimp who acts like Cheetah at times but is never given a name. There's a comical scene when henchman Andreov (Rick Vallin) is "tortured" by a lamp and headphones playing jazz! The best cliffhanger has Thun'da trapped in quicksand while nasty natives keep chucking spears at him and try to push a log away before he can grab hold of it and save himself. Crabbe has dark hair for this picture.

Verdict: Not one of the more memorable Columbia serials and Crabbe's last. **.


angelman66 said...

Crabbe was a great lookin' guy though!!

William said...

He was a good enough actor, too, at least for the stuff he was cast in. I think he looks better with dark hair than blond.

Anonymous said...

The serial was based on the "Thun'da" comic book which was originally drawn by the great Frank Frazetta!

William said...

Yes, I think Frazetta did a couple of issues. Read the series on Comic Book Plus and it was fun, if nothing major.

Thanks for all of your comments. Much appreciated!