Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, March 19, 2016


I came across the press book for the film Bomba on Panther Island and I thought I'd share this cool bit of nostalgia with you.

Bomba the Jungle Boy began in a series of boy's adenture books produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate (the same folks who brought you the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, the Bobsey Twins, and so many more characters) under the house name "Roy Rockwood."  Many of the twenty books in the series were written by John William Duffield (although one on-line article posits Howard Garis as the main author).  

From an advertisement from the original publisher:  "Bomba lied far back in the jungles of the Amazon with a half-demented naturalist who told the lad nothing of his past.  The Jungle Boy was a lover of birds, and hunted animals with a bow and arrow and his trusty machete.  He had a primitive education in some things, and his daring adventures will be followed with breathless interest by thousands."  Bomba, of course, was just one of the crowd following in the wake of the success of Tarzan.  Others of that ilk included Maurice B. Gardner's Bantan (in the jungle islands of the South Pacific) and Harold Sherman's Tahara (whose adventures were set in some jungle and some some desert. as well as in the Yucatan).  (Sherman had his greatest success as a psychic expert and exponent of ESP; he also wrote a long string of boy's sports novels and well as some simple-minded science fiction for Amazing Stories.)  The Bomba books themselves were overtly racist.  Bomba, being white had a fully engaged soul, the natives, being black, had souls that were "sleeping" -- but this at a time when such stereotypes were common in literature and accepted blindly by an enthusiastic juvenile audenience.

The Bomba books originally published by Cupples & Leon were:
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy; or, the Old Naturalist's Secret (1926)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy at the Moving Mountain; or, The Mystery of the Caves of Fire (1926)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy at the Giant Cataract; or, Chief Nascanora & His Captivves (1926)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy on Jaguar Island; or, Adrift on the River of Mystery (1927)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Abandoned City; or, A Treasure Ten Thousand Years Old (1927)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy on Terror Trail; or, The Mysterious Men from the Sky (1928)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Swamp of Death; or, The Sacred Alligators of Abarago (1929) *
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy Among the Slaves; or, Daring Adventures in the Valley of Skulls (1929)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Underground River; or, The Cave of Bottomless Pits (1930)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Lost Explorers; or, A Wonderful Revelation (1930)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in a Strange Land; or, Facing the Unknown (1931)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy Among the Pygmies; or, Battling with Stealthy Foes (1931)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the  Cannibals; or, Winning Against Native Dangers (1932)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Painted Hunters; or, A Long Search Rewarded (1932)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the River Demons; or, Outwitting the Savage Medecine Man (1933)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy and the Hostile Chieftain; or, A Hazardous Trek to the Sea (1934)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy Trapped by the Cyclone; or, Shipwrecked on the Swirling Sea (1935)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Land of Burning Lava; or, Outwitting Superstitious Natives (1936)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Perilous Kingdom; or, Braving Strange Hazards (1937)
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy in the Steaming Grotto; or, Victorious Through Flame and Fury (1938)
After Johnny Sheffield became too old to play Boy in the Tarzan films, he was type-cast in a series of twelve Bomba films:
  • Bomba the Jungle Boy (1949)
  • Bomba on Panther Island (1949)
  • The Lost Volcano (1950)
  • The Hidden City (1950)
  • The Lion Hunters (1951)
  • Bomba and the Elephant Hunters (1951)
  • African Treasure (1952)
  • Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952)
  • Safari Drums (1953)
  • The Golden Idol (1954)
  • Killer Leopard (1954)
  • Lord of the Jungle (1955)
Here's the plot of Bomba on Panther Island, according to EBRzine

 "After the death of his pet monkey by a maurading panther, Bomba goes after the killer beast.  Its trail leads him to Andy Barnes' home where architect Rob Maitland is trying to clear for an agricultural project.  He has brought his sister Judy is [sic] with him to help set up the plantation, although she has no desire to stay.  The panther kills two of the native workers, but their superstitious companions do not want the animal molested.  The natives also believe that the servant girl, Losana, has the evil eye.  Bomba takes an interest in Judy, but she wants no part of life in the jungle.  When Rob accidently causes a forest fire, Bomba and the girl are forced into a cave where the jungle boy has to kill a panther.  A rainstorm puts out a fire, and everybody learns a valuable lesson, including Judy, who decides to stay and help her brother."

Sadly, I couldn't find the film available online, although it occassionally pops up on TCM.

Without further ado, here's the Press Kit designed to promote the film:

*  This certainly must be Crider's favorite.


  1. That one undoubtedly had a forming influence on me as a very young kid. I found the Bomba books in the library and read all they had. Unfortunately they didn't have them all. George Kelley has provided me with a few of them, and I bought a few myself. Reading one of them again about 20 years ago, I was hugely disappointed. However, I'm thinking of giving one of them another try Real Soon Now.

  2. Like you, Bill, I loved the books as a kid but have had a hard time with them as an adult -- which is strange because I still have all the maturity of a twelve-year-old.