Tag Archives: Indiana Jones


Recently, Balladeer’s Blog examined the 1937 Jungle Jim serial as well as the first six Jungle Jim movies starring former Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller beginning in 1948. Here are the remaining ten Weissmuller films as the pre-Indiana Jones and pre-Crocodile Dundee, but post-Allan Quatermain hero.

jungle manhuntJUNGLE MANHUNT (October 1951) – This seventh Jungle Jim feature film is one of the best examples of how the franchise combined fun escapism with outlandish “So Bad They’re Good” film antics. After rescuing female reporter Anne Lawrence (Sheila Ryan) when her boat overturns, Jungle Jim agrees to guide her on her search for Bob Miller – played by real-life football star Bob Waterfield, Jane Russell’s husband.

Football hero Miller’s plane vanished over the jungle years earlier and Anne is determined to enhance her career by finding him and writing up the story. It turns out that Miller has spent the time serving as a one-man Peace Corps, helping a remote village with engineering and other efforts.

During the expedition to find the missing football player/ pilot, Jungle Jim and company get mixed up in a battle between a shark and a large octopus IN AN INLAND BODY OF FRESH WATER! The shark wins and then Jim must kill that creature in a very unconvincing underwater battle. 

jungle jim vs dinosaurOur hero and Anne also encounter dinosaurs – yes, dinosaurs – in the jungle region where Bob Miller’s plane went down. Much of it is stock footage from One Million B.C. but at one point, Jungle Jim clashes with an upright-walking, man-sized dinosaur who looks like the model for the Gorn Captain fought by Captain Kirk years later. Or maybe Barney the Dinosaur.

Dinosaurs not enough for ya? Well, there’s also Lyle Talbot as mad scientist Dr. Mitchell Heller, an industrial chemist with a bad accent and a method for using uranium to transform lesser stones into diamonds. Heller employs an army of men who sport body paint (really costumes) that makes them look like living skeletons. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


Chris PrattWith the news that Steven Spielberg will no longer be directing the bizarre film project Indiana Jones 5, a few readers asked me for Balladeer’s Blog’s take.

In the past I’ve mentioned how foolish it is to think that Harrison Ford MUST play Indy in all the movies. James Bond and Tarzan are just two recurring heroes that have survived multiple casting changes over the years.

The obvious move long ago would have been to cast a younger actor – say, Chris Pratt – as Indiana Jones and detail some of his earlier adventures. I love the Roaring Twenties so I think it would have been great to see Dr Jones’ activities in that decade.

Since it would be before Raiders of the Lost Ark even Belloq (maybe Gary Oldman) could appear in a few installments. I can’t possibly be alone in wanting to see some of those “many stimulating encounters” that Belloq referred to having with Indy in Raiders.

Belloq was French, so do a story with Dr Jones searching for a lost relic in 1920s Vietnam. Belloq’s hoity-toity family could be among the French plantation owners there, helping to set up a clash with our hero. Or have the two vying with each other to recover ancient Russian artifacts from violent factions of Red and White Russians in the years after the Russian Civil War. Any number of things.

Mascot sword and pistolOne of the main things I hate about keeping Harrison Ford as Indy is the fact that Ford’s age requires the setting to be the 1950s or 1960s. Those decades are far too late for the “homage to 1930s pulp and serial heroes” charm of the original Indiana Jones trilogy.

Back in 2008, instead of the awful Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, they could have made Son of Indiana Jones. Chris Pratt – or anyone else NOT named Shia Lebouf, who is shia venny talent – could have been the son of Indy and Marion, named Gemini Jones or Mercury Jones or something similar. Continue reading


Filed under opinion, Pulp Heroes


bruce-boxleitner-as-frank-buckIN SEARCH OF THE UNKNOWN (1904) by Robert W Chambers. Previously Balladeer’s Blog examined Chambers’ underrated horror classic The King in Yellow. The work we’re looking at this time around is a collection of short stories about Francis Gilland the Zoologist. Gilland was a forerunner of the real-life Frank “Bring ’em Back Alive” Buck and the fictional Indiana Jones.

Our daring hero worked for the Bronx Zoological Gardens and was frequently dispatched by Professor Farrago to try to bring in dangerous crypto-zoological specimens or disprove their existence if they were hoaxes. The stories in this volume:

bruce-boxleitner-as-frank-buck-2I. THE HARBOR MASTER – Gilland is sent north to Hudson Bay where a Harbor Master has reported capturing a pair of Great Auks, flightless birds which went extinct in the mid-1800s. The two-fisted scholar finds the Great Auks are for real but the Harbor Master harbors (see what I did there) a sinister secret.

This story also features the Harbor Master’s beautiful secretary, who naturally catches Gilland’s eye, and a gilled merman (shades of Creature From The Black Lagoon), who wants to mate with the lovely lady himself. Gilland’s not having it, of course, and must do battle with the creature.  

bruce-boxleitner-as-frank-buck-3II. IN QUEST OF THE DINGUE – The Graham Glacier melts, unleashing a number of animals from species that were long thought extinct. Among the crowd of academics converging on the unexplored area are Gilland and Professor Smawl. The Professor is a sexy, strong-willed female scholar that our hero has been forced to accompany into the region.

The battle of the sexes bickering flies like shrapnel as the pair encounter Woolly Mammoths and other creatures, find a primitive bell called a dingue and run afoul of a gigantic super-powered woman who calls herself the Spirit of the North. Continue reading


Filed under Ancient Science Fiction, Pulp Heroes


With the flood of unimaginative new television programs, especially on various cable channels, I’m often surprised that some of the most entertaining shows in history don’t have their very own following of people who know waaaaay too much about them. As always here at Balladeer’s Blog I like to shine the spotlight on everything that is unjustly overlooked. Feel free to start holding conventions devoted to, and launching flame wars about, these six criminally neglected television programs.


Captain Z-Ro and Jet

6. CAPTAIN Z-RO – (1951-1960) Over a full decade before Great Britain’s ultimate cult show, Doctor Who, hit the airwaves this American show featured the  titular Captain traveling in time and space with various sidekicks, including Jet, the young man pictured with Captain Z-Ro in the photo to the left.

In addition to adventures that saw the Captain dealing with a robot run amok in San Francisco and with a potentially fatal meteor collision, his “experiments in time and space” (the show’s oft-repeated tag line) found him helping out some of the exact same historical figures that Great Britain’s Time Lord from Gallifrey would go on to encounter, like Marco Polo, William the Conqueror and the Aztecs. As an added bonus Captain Z-Ro solved the mystery of the Great Pyramid itself!

This series is good, campy fun and a fringe benefit would be the laughs viewers can get from outdated social attitudes and special effects. The show’s pricelessly campy opening alone is worth the effort to track episodes down. 

MASTERMIND5. MASTERMIND (also known as Q.E.D.) (1981) – A young, bearded Sam Waterston starred in this incredibly charming series set in 1912 England. Waterston portrayed the title genius, American Ivy League scholar Dr Quentin E Deveril, whose  initials were, of course, a cutesy play on the Latin expression “quod erat demonstrandum”  (“what was to be demonstrated”), the famous Q.E.D. from academic  exercises.

Deveril’s adventures could be best described as a cross between Indiana Jones and Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television