Tag Archives: Johnny Weissmuller


jungle jim tv seriesRecently, 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.  

jungle jim pictureEPISODE 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. 


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.


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.  Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television, Pulp Heroes


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


jungle jim johnnyNews of the disastrous reaction to screenings of the unwanted and unneeded fifth Indiana Jones movie, starring a 136-year-old Harrison Ford, caused me to reflect on the 1980s flood of Indiana Jones imitators. Studios even revived the old H. Rider Haggard character Allan Quatermain by casting Richard Chamberlin as Quatermain in a few movies.

Conspicuously absent from that 1980s eruption was Jungle Jim, the former comic strip character who had been depicted in a film serial, several movies and a television series from the 1930s to 1950s. Obviously, the same attempts to update Allan Quatermain would have to be made in reviving Jungle Jim, but it certainly could have been pulled off.

After all, decades before Raiders of the Lost Ark, “Jungle Jim” Bradley, mercenary jungle guide and adventurer, was fighting Nazis and other menaces while finding lost cities & ancient artifacts, all while romancing lovely ladies. Throw in the occasional giant spider or huge, man-eating eel and enjoy!

A 1980s Jungle Jim series could have combined the best elements of Indiana Jones, Crocodile Dundee and Allan Quatermain.  

At any rate, all this led me to write this examination of the big and small screen escapades of Jungle Jim in all their fun, outdated, absurd and So Bad They’re Good glory. Johnny Weissmuller, the former Tarzan actor, actually had to speak in complete sentences as Jungle Jim, emphasizing his poor thespian skills.

jungle jim 1937JUNGLE JIM (1937) – This 12 episode serial from Universal starred Grant Withers as the title character in the pith helmet. The story involved Joan Redmond, a wealthy young heiress who disappeared in the African jungle with her parents years earlier.

Sightings of a white woman in command of a pride of lions have inspired media speculation that the now teenaged heiress was still alive. Two rival jungle expeditions set out to find her, one launched by the tale’s heroes and another launched by the tale’s villains. 

The good guys, guided by Jungle Jim, want to bring the young Lion Goddess back to her home country and her inheritance. The bad guys, led by the young lady’s villainous relative Bruce Redmond, want to kill Joan, thus allowing Bruce to claim the inheritance for himself. Further complicating things are two international criminals who have been stranded in the jungle with Joan for years and have been passing themselves off to her as if they are her parents. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies, Pulp Heroes