Recently, Balladeer’s Blog examined the 1937 Jungle Jim serial and all sixteen Johnny Weissmuller movies in which he was technically in the role. In this third and final Jungle Jim blog post I will look at the one-season series from 1955-1956. Each episode was 30 minutes with commercials.
Jim’s chimp was back to being called Tamba, and the series added a son named Skipper (Martin Huston) for the hero. Fans will remember that Skipper was originally the name of Jungle Jim’s pet dog. Norman Fredric was added to the cast as Jim’s turbaned assistant Kaseem.
EPISODE ONE: MAN KILLER
Synopsis: Jungle Jim tussles with an inexperienced hunter (Dick Rich) who, while shooting at big game from a riverboat, wounds a lion but fails to kill it, setting the pained animal on a reign of terror. Jim, Skipper, Kaseem and (groan) Tamba must save the locals AND the careless hunter from the lion.
EPISODE TWO: LAND OF TERROR
Synopsis: Helene Marshall, playing the sister of a famous botanist, interrupts Jungle Jim and Skipper’s census of wild animals to help her search for her missing brother. Our heroes and Tamba rescue the botanist from yet another remote African locale teeming with dinosaurs. (The usual stock footage from One Million B.C. that showed up in countless movies.) This time the area gets wiped out by lava after a volcano eruption.
EPISODE THREE: TREASURE OF THE AMAZON
Synopsis: A pair of murderous plunderers posing as archeologists trick Jungle Jim into flying to Brazil with them to lead their expedition. They are searching for a lost city built by the Incas long ago, but naturally just want to loot the place’s treasure. Jim and the villains find it, but face headhunters, piranha, warthogs, jungle cats and boa constrictors. The bad guys get killed as a consequence of their own greed.
EPISODE FOUR: LAGOON OF DEATH
Synopsis: A criminal gang abducts Jungle Jim and threatens to kill his son Skipper unless he does what they ask. On a fictional island in the Pacific, the crooks have Jim guide them to a village of cannibals who feed victims to an enormous clam that produces large black pearls. The chief wears the pearls in multi-layered necklaces. The bad guys want the black pearls, but naturally Jungle Jim defeats them, the cannibals AND saves a beautiful woman (Nyra Monsour) from the jaws of the gigantic clam in an underwater battle.
EPISODE FIVE: A FORTUNE IN IVORY
Synopsis: Skipper and his frumpy female tutor get caught up in a search for the legendary Elephant’s Graveyard. This causes them to stumble upon an ivory poacher’s plan to smuggle a fortune in elephant tusks out of Africa. Jungle Jim, investigating a rash of elephant stampedes, saves the pair and also manages to corral the poacher and shut down the smuggling operation.
EPISODE SIX: JUNGLE JUSTICE
Synopsis: Kaseem’s friend Niron (Pepe Hern) is framed for the theft of $15,000 (worth $156,630 in 2022) and faces brutal punishment from his people and the white authorities. It’s up to Jungle Jim and Kaseem to prove Niron’s innocence by nabbing the real culprit.
EPISODE SEVEN: THE EYES OF MINOBO
Synopsis: Commissioner Morrison hires Jungle Jim to prevent an all-out war from breaking out between the Basuto tribe and the Wazuries. It turns out that the Basutos blame the Wazuries for stealing the priceless jewels which serve as eyes in the statue of their god Minobo. To prevent the war, Jim must recover the “eyes.”
EPISODE EIGHT: THE KING’S GHOST
Synopsis: A female explorer hires Jungle Jim and his colleagues to help her on her expedition into the jungles of New Guinea. Years earlier she had survived a plane crash there and the local king hosted her. She now wishes to make a documentary about the king and his village to thank him. Criminals tag along, planning to steal the tribe’s treasure.
EPISODE NINE: WHITE MAGIC
Synopsis: Jungle Jim had helped a bright young native attend medical school. That young man is back now, but when he brings his skills to bear in his old village, the current Witch Doctor tries to engineer his destruction. Needless to say, our hero saves the day and the tribe benefits from all the wonders of modern medicine.
EPISODE TEN: THE DEADLY IDOL
Synopsis: Jungle Jim is assigned to guide a snobbish, officious new deputy commissioner and his wife to meet the Maku tribe. It turns out the deadly idol of the title is really an unexploded bomb jettisoned over the jungle during the war. The Maku have taken to worshiping it. The bomb must be disarmed before it goes off, killing all of the Maku. Think Danger: UXB goes to Africa.
EPISODE ELEVEN: THE LEOPARD’S PAW
Synopsis: Hunting and killing a leopard is part of the Rites of Manhood for a young indigenous man. Jungle Jim winds up having to help out the youth. All around, this is an annoying, uncomfortable and patronizing episode, even allowing for Hollywood’s notorious racism.
EPISODE TWELVE: MAN FROM ZANZIBAR
Synopsis: An insurance investigator shows up to recover a batch of stolen pearls when Skipper’s friend discovers it. It turns out the investigator is really a crook wanting to steal the pearls and escape before his cover is blown. Naturally Jungle Jim sees that justice is served.
EPISODE THIRTEEN: PRECIOUS CARGO
Synopsis: A pair of criminals grab a wealthy couple vacationing in the jungle and hold them for ransom. The wife had set their baby loose on a raft to keep them out of the kidnappers’ clutches. (?) The baby winds up in Jungle Jim’s hands and he must save the child’s parents from the criminals.
EPISODE FOURTEEN: THE GOLDEN PARASOL
Synopsis: Escaped convicts steal the Golden Parasol from African King Otumfo. The king erroneously blames Tamba the chimp for the theft and wants the creature executed. Jungle Jim races against time to nab the thieves and recover the parasol before Tamba is put to death at sundown.
EPISODE FIFTEEN: THE CODE OF THE JUNGLE
Synopsis: This is an excruciating comic relief episode in which Tamba grows jealous of Skipper’s new dog. You couldn’t pay me enough to bother writing more about this horrible episode.
EPISODE SIXTEEN: WILD MAN OF THE JUNGLE
Synopsis: A bizarre “wild man” sets out in Scooby Doo villain fashion to scare away indigenous workers from the plantation where they are employed. Jungle Jim investigates the situation in the best “meddling kids” tradition.
EPISODE SEVENTEEN: SAFARI INTO DANGER
Synopsis: An American circus hires Jungle Jim to round up animals for them. The people who run the circus callously run roughshod over a tribe of Pygmies, angering our hero and inviting the wrath of the Pygmies.
EPISODE EIGHTEEN: BLOOD MONEY
Synopsis: An egotistical tycoon is pondering donating money to build a new medical center in Africa. Jungle Jim gets saddled with the job of guiding around the man and his spoiled & willful daughter Doris (Frances Karath). Needless to say, everything turns out okay in the end.
EPISODE NINETEEN: STRIPED FURY
Synopsis: Jungle Jim is hired to come to India to track down a man-eating tiger that is on the loose. Jim’s look into the situation reveals that nefarious people are using the tiger to shake down the locals for protection money. Naturally he brings the racket to an end.
EPISODE TWENTY: SACRED SCARAB
Synopsis: A plane that is transporting a priceless golden scarab crashes in the jungle. For the umpteenth time Jungle Jim is fooled by criminals who convince him they are really legitimate authorities who need guided to the plane wreckage. When the truth emerges, our hero must recover the scarab and prevent the crooks from fleeing with it.
EPISODE TWENTY-ONE: VOODOO DRUMS
Synopsis: A jungle chief formalizes a dedication to peace, but external forces try to maneuver him and his people into a fresh war. Jungle Jim is called upon to set things right when the war drums begin sounding.
EPISODE TWENTY-TWO: THE AVENGER
Synopsis: A trio of trappers hire Jungle Jim to guide their party in search of black panthers. Another trapper/ hunter with hostile intentions attaches himself to the group, seeking vengeance for an unknown offense. Our hero must save the day.
EPISODE TWENTY-THREE: RETURN OF THE TAUREGS
Synopsis: Modern day slave traders capture the indigenous guides of Professor James West (Byron Foulger), a scholar searching for rare African butterflies. Jungle Jim must track down the slavers, free their captives and put the kibosh on their human trafficking network.
EPISODE TWENTY-FOUR: THE SILVER LOCKET
Synopsis: A lion that Jungle Jim was hired to capture turns out to be wearing a locket that once belonged to a child who was lost in the jungle long ago. Jim guides an expedition to determine if the lost girl is still alive.
EPISODE TWENTY-FIVE: GIFT OF EVIL
Synopsis: The jungle version of a snake oil salesman tricks Skipper into helping him sell his miracle medicine to assorted tribes. When the fake medicine turns out to be fatal, it’s up to Jungle Jim to salvage the situation and prevent enormous loss of life.
EPISODE TWENTY-SIX: POWER OF DARKNESS
Synopsis: An academic group hires Jungle Jim to guide them through northern India so they may scale the Himalayas to observe an impending eclipse. Jim and his clients wind up prisoners of an evil villain who has convinced assorted Tibetans in a Lost City that he is a god. The “power of darkness” refers to the eclipse.
FOR JOHNNY WEISSMULLER’S CLOSING TEN JUNGLE JIM MOVIES CLICK HERE.
FOR MY EXTENSIVE LOOK AT THE COMMANDO CODY SERIALS AND TELEVISION SERIES CLICK HERE.