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Panther Girl of the Kongo
(1954 Serial)
Panther Girl of the Kongo
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About This Film
Chapter Play-by-Play
Gallery: Chapter 2

Panther Girl of the Kongo (1954)-  This 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.

Chapter Play-by-Play:

Well, we all know Panther Girl wins, but how does she win?

Chapter 1- No knockouts or human deaths.  A panther is killed by Panther Girl.

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 crocodile.

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
Deaths= 3
Animal Deaths= 5 (panther, gorilla, lion, crocodile, claw monster)