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Larry Trent (Walter Miller) is sent to a remote part of the Congo to
track down a gang of ivory thieves and to track down a fellow agent who
has gone missing in action while on the job - his brother (Richard Neill).
Once there, Trent soon picks up a trail to the ruins of an ancient temple
that is cuarded by a gorilla, the King of the Kongo, and that also
seems to house a large treasure. Trent also meets Diana Martin (Jacqueline
Logan), who thinks her father whom she never met - she was brought up by a
priest (J.P.Leckray) - is held at the temple, and despite Trent's best
efforts to dissuade her from going there, he ultimately ends up
At the temple it is not long before Trent and Linda
run into the ivory thieves led by Scarface Macklin (Boris Karloff), who
are especially interested in getting their hands on Trent because he holds
a part of the treasure map, and besides that, they also have to fight all
kinds of typical and not so typical jungle perils, form lions, leopards
and tigers to gorillas and dinosaurs (!). Ultimately though, they win the
upper hand, aided also by a native tribe Linda is friends with, and Trent
manages to free his brother, who has been prisoner of the ivory thieves
for years because he knew something about the treasure's location.
Scarface Macklin meanwhile, seemingly the baddie of the picture, is
allowed to die a hero's death when he saves Linda from the King of the
Kongo, who then is revealed to be no gorilla at all but Jack Drake
(Larry Steers), who up to now has seemed to be a harmless and benevolent
adventurer but was indeed the real leader of the ivory thieves. Macklin on
the other hand reveals himself to be the father of Linda on his death bed.
the end of course, all the baddies get their just desserts while Trent
gets the girl.
The very first sound serial, though actually it
was only part-talkie, combining dialogue scenes and sound effects with
silent sequences featuring title cards. Unfortunately nowadays, the only
copy of the soundtrack of this serial is thought to be ina private
collection so the only way to see it is in an all-silent version (which of
course makes the dialogue scenes a bit hard to follow).
All that said,
apart from its technical accomplishments, King of the Kongo is
above all your typical escapist adventure serial that paints a rather
naive picture of Africa to tell a story that's typical pulp fiction -
which is not to say King of the Kongo is bad, actually it's a
pretty enjoyable chapterplay that makes the most of its rather low budget,
features lots of jungle action and some pretty good sets and keeps its
plot moving at a pretty steady pace. Of course, the solution of the whole
story doesn't encessarily make too much sense, but then again, one doesn't
watch a serial for its solution but for the excitement it delivers episode
after episode - and in that respect, King of the Kongo simply does deliver