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  Bowanga Bowanga Safari So Goody
Year: 1951
Director: Norman Dawn
Stars: Lewis Wilson, Dana Wilson, Frances Dubay, Morton C. Thompson, Clarence Brooks, Zona Siggins, Charlene Hawks, Don Orlando, Mary Brandon, Devvy Davenport, Mary Lou Miner, Joyce Nevins, Barbara Reynolds, Leah Wakefield
Genre: Trash, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Africa can be a very strange place, as this band of intrepid adventurers is about to find out when they go on safari there, hoping to bag some big game. The two white men leading this excursion are Trent (Lewis Wilson) and his right hand man Count Sparafucile (Don Orlando), but though they spot plenty of animals, nothing really fires up their excitement until someone blunders out of the brush and collapses at their feet. He is Kirby (Morton C. Thompson), and he has quite a story to tell...

A story made up mostly of other movies it would seem, or at least it does until the women in leopard print bikinis show up. They don't get much cheaper that Bowanga Bowanga, otherwise known as Wild Women, which director Norman Dawn opted to pad out to a whole hour's worth of running time using clips of whatever stock footage he could lay his hands on. Therefore if you were of a mind to indulge in a drinking game, and took a swig every time a clip of an animal appeared, you would likely be plastered in about five minutes - enough time to wonder why we see just about every animal except lions.

And when Dawn ran out of footage from animal documentaries, which looked to be twenty years old even at the stage this was produced, he opted to use bits and pieces from ancient fictional movies, which explains why, for example, we are treated to the sight of a young lady wandering through the forest accompanied by a man in a gorilla suit, something which neither of the hunters deem fit to mention. Later on, Kirby tells us a story of his childhood which to get the adrenaline pumping (or not) includes a boy getting attacked by a couple of leopards and a snake, nothing to do with the rest of the film, but it's there nonetheless.

What this is building up to is the reason Kirby was in such a state of dishevelment, which is that he was running away from a tribe of women - a tribe of white women, of course, as just in the Tarzan movies of the day by this time African American cast members in jungle films were peculiarly thin on the ground. This served to underline the trend that if you were a single man in an exploitation - or at least genre - movie in the nineteen-fifties the best way to meet eligible members of the opposite sex would be to either travel to another planet or stay on Earth and head for uncharted territories, as you were sure to find your ideal partner there.

After the natives on the safari (one of whom is a tubby white bloke with blackface but a pasty body, seamlessly integrated of course) do a runner, this leaves our three explorers to confront the Ulama tribe, all of whom wear animal skins and have no apparent use for men, which is odd when you ponder where any of them came from considering they're all about the same age. The queen was actually played by pidgin English-speaking Dana Wilson, who was soon to become Mrs Cubby Broccoli of James Bond franchise fame, but she's the closest thing to a famous name associated with this. It's too short to be boring, but ridiculous enough to prompt the odd laugh - watch in the all in wrestling scene between Trent and a savage woman where she actually knees him in the bollocks. But the best word to describe Bowanga Bowanga would be shoddy, if not pitiful.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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