Nyoka (Frances Gifford) lives in the jungle with her father Dr Meredith
(Trevor Bardett) among a tribe of benign natives, when a bunch of white
men - Stanton (Tom Neal), his sidekick Curly (Eddie Acuff) and shady Slick
(Gerald Mohr) arrive to fetch Dr Meredith to look after his twin brother
Bradley (also Trevor Bardett) - a twin brother the doctor has never even
told Nyoka about (and doesn't do so now) because he's evil ... but he's
also on his death bed, so Dr Meredith accompanies them. Unbeknowest to
Stanton and Curly though, Slick is in league with Bradley and helps him
kill the doctor so Bradley can take his place. Why? Because the doctor has
a key (in shape of a lion amulet) to a fortune in diamonds the natives keep at their mantrap-riddled
temple, something the baddies want to get their hands on, obviously.
Bradley and Slick don't know though is that while the doctor was away,
evil high priest Shamba (Frank Lackteen) has stolen the lion amulet to
gain control over all the tribes of the region, something the
white-man-medicine of the doctor has prevented him from doing. He has also
"killed" the doctor in a voodoo ritual ... so imagine his
surprise when the "doctor" returns - of course it's actually
Bradley, but not even his own daughter seems to notice.
Now of course,
Slick and Bradley want the amulet Shamba is having, Shamba wants Bradley
dead believing him to be the doctor ... so that means war. On the other
hand, Slick and Bradley just want the diamonds, Shamba doesn't care that
much about the diamonds but wants control over the tribes ... so that
means uneasy alliances, full of double and triple crosses. But no matter
what, Nyoka, Stanton and Curly always end up in the middle and have to
fend off enemies from both sides ... which means lots of chases,
shoot-outs, fistfights, death traps, and of course many an excursion into
the mysterious temple that almost always end in near-disaster.
eventually that Nyoka and company find out that Slick's a baddie first,
and Bradley's not her father later, but by that time they seem already
fighting a losing battle ... until they get their hands on the diamonds
and Slick and Bradley have a fall-out with Shamba. From then on it's a
race for the only plane out of the country - and eventually of course our
heroes prevail while Slick meets an especially unpleasant death falling
out of a flying airplane.
Jungle Girl is first and
foremost just a fun serial. Of course, it's neither in the least faithful
to Edgar Rice Burroughs' source material, nor is it high on realism, and
the Afcican jungle just looks like an adventure park ... but hey, the
rides seem to be good. Plus the whole thing is fast-moving, there's plenty
of action, and what the serial lacks in scope it makes up for in
inventiveness when it comes to its action setpieces, death traps and the
like. Plus, this is often quoted as the serial that returned the female
heroine to the genre, and Frances Gifford makes for a fine jungle girl.
no masterpiece maybe, but a fine piece of jungle cliffhanger nevertheless.