Panther Girl of the Kongo (1954)-
was the next to last
of the serials produced by Republic Pictures (#65 of 66). It uses
a fair share of footage of Jungle Girl (1941), but it's mostly original
material. This is probably one of the more entertaining movie
serials ever made. It certainly moves fast. When you watch
a movie serial, you get what you get. There's lots of action and
interesting characters, but no character development. If you want
to see a show with deep meaning, this isn't it. But if you want
to see an entertaining jungle action show, this fits the bill.
Phyllis Coates stars as Jean Evans, the Panther
Girl. She is an
accomplished wildlife photographer who dares to get the pictures and
footage others don't try to get. But this time she is up against
more than she can handle alone. Giant crayfish creatures plague
the land. The "claw monsters" as they are called are part of a
larger plot by the evil Dr. Morgan to rob local diamond mines.
Panther Girl calls in friend Larry Sanders, a big game hunter, to help
track the mysterious creatures to their source. But in their
quest for the truth, they must battle Morgan's henchmen Cass and Rand.
Phyllis Coates has to be one of the all-time sexiest
jungle women to
ever grace film stock. She is HOT, HOT, HOT as the Panther
Girl. Besides the physical attributes (what a build!), she's
really just a cool character. Phyllis, of course, was TVs first
Lois Lane, the female lead in "The Adventures of Superman" opposite
George Reeves. I really enjoy her in that show. She set a
precedent for the Lois Lane character. But this serial was even
better suited for her. Coates has a very assertive, almost
forceful, way about her on film. Whereas Lois Lane has to play
the damsel-in-distress, Panther Girl is certainly capable of handling
herself AND can fight AND dress sexy. I can only imagine that she
had a good time playing this character.
Myron Healey as Larry Sanders, Panther Girl's
sidekick, also deserves
mention. He's a cool guy. Doesn't try to downplay Panther
Girl's importance. Larry and Panther really do work
together. There isn't any kind of romance between the two.
I wish there had been, but there wasn't really time with all the
activity going on. One disadvantage to serials is that you
couldn't really get to know the characters thoughts and feelings.
Stuff happened, that's about it. What made some serials better
than others is just how well they were done. Action counts, and
good, likable actors. Fortunately, all the actors in this show
were good and entertaining to see...even the bad guys.
Arthur Space played Dr. Morgan, the mad
scientist. Morgan was a
disgraced chemist with fantastic talent. He somehow discovered
that a local abandoned mine was rich with diamonds. To scare
people away from the land, he developed a hormone compound that turned
regular crayfish into giants. With the help of his henchmen,
hunters Cass and Rand, Morgan turned the jungle on its ear freaking out
all the natives and being a regular pain in the tail for Panther Girl
and Larry Sanders.
There is very little violence in this serial as
compared to most from
the time period. Deaths are few. Most of the time, nobody
even gets wounded. How can these people shoot their guns so much
and not hit anything? For crying out loud, they're hunters!
They sure are crappy shots! But that is the fun with
serials. They aren't meant to be shining examples of
reality. This serial is alright to show young kids.
Well, we all know
Panther Girl wins, but how does she win?
Chapter 1- No knockouts or human deaths. A panther is killed by
Chapter 2- Panther Girl is knocked out once. She's pushed down
and her head hits the chair. Larry Sanders is knocked out
once. A log is thrown at his head.
Chapter 3- Larry Sanders is knocked out once. He is punched out
by a gorilla.
Chapter 4- Larry Sanders is knocked out once. He is hit on the
head by a chair. A gorilla is killed.
Chapter 5- Panther Girl is knocked out once. She hits her head on
a crate. There is one death; a native. He's attacked by the
claw monster off-screen.
Chapter 6- Panther Girl is knocked out once. She is pushed off
her elephant by a vine. Larry Sanders is knocked out once.
Rand hits him on the back of the head.
Chapter 7- There is one death; Burgess the knife-fighter. After a
struggle with Larry Sanders, Burgess ends up with a knife in his chest.
Chapter 8- Panther Girl is knocked out once. She hits her head on
the cave wall. There's one animal death; Panther Girl kills a
Chapter 9- Panther Girl is knocked out twice. First, she is hit
on the back of the head with a rifle butt. Then, she is hit in
the face with a bag and knocked into the river. Panther Girl also
gets tied up (after the first knockout) and left on the dock.
Chapter 10- This is a recap chapter. Panther and Larry relate their
story to the commissioner through flashbacks.
Chapter 11- One claw monster is killed.
Chapter 12- Panther Girl is knocked out once. Her face hits a
chair. Larry Sanders is knocked out once. He is hit with a
chair. There is only one death. Morgan is killed with his
own poison gas. Cass and Rand do not get killed or captured; they
simply vanish with no further explanation. Cass, however, does
catch a bullet in the arm.
So if we were keeping a tally...
Panther Girl knocked out= 7
Larry Sanders knocked out= 5
Animal Deaths= 5 (panther, gorilla, lion, crocodile, claw monster)