Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

OVERLOOKED MOVIE: WHITE PONGO (1945)

There was a time in Hollywood if you owned a gorilla suit you were able to have steady employment.  Ray Corrigan made good use of his gorilla suit in about a jillion jungle movies, but for this movie the question remains -- did he actually own a white gorilla suit, or was it borrowed?

File this film under 'We Don't Need No Stinkin' Science."  When the dying Gunderson (Milton Kibbee) emerges from the jungle with a tale of a white gorilla (or white pongo -- pronounced for some reason "ponga"), a local scientist declares this must be the missing link between ape and man.  It's immediately decided that a group will head into the jungle in search of the fabulous beast in order to capture it and bring it to civilization.  This whole plan has the atmosphere of Mickey and Judy saying, "Let's put on a show!"

Unknown to the members of the expedition, their safari guide (played by Al Eben) is a suspected murderer -- causing policeman Geoffrey Bishop (Richard Fraser) to go undercover with the expedition.  Of course the lovely Pamela Bragdon (Maris Wrixon), daughter of expedition leader Sir Harry Bragdon (Gordon Richards), becomes smitten with Bishop, much to the chagrin of Mr. Stuck-Up-Face, total bounder Clive Carswell (Michael Dyne).  Predictably, White Pongo becomes smitten with Pamela.  Complications ensue.

Typical of low-budget jungle movies of the time, racism abounds.  The skin tone of the native women is many shades lighter than that of the native men.  The name of the expedition's porter is Mumbo Jumbo (played by Joel Fluellen, who deserved better).  The film just spits white man's burden.

Filmed in the deepest, darkest recesses of the Los Angeles County Arboretun & Botanical Garden in Arcadia, California, White Pongo is not the worst of its ilk.  Sadly, it's also not the best --  by a long shot.

Directed by Sam Newfield and written by Richard Schrock (why do I want to substitute and "l" for the "r" in that name?), White Pongo rated 2.8 stars on IMDb.  (In comparison, Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda racked up 4.1 stars.  You hae been warned.)

Enjoy. I guess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRG7YiyVbaE&list=PL4lXXl0ee_S-z-fXNSdnuRHPyFrsbSvvk&index=10


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