Nabonga - 1944


    The film Nabonga launched Julie London’s movie career when she was just seventeen years old. The movie was a cheapie, filmed in five days, and I suspect it is one she would prefer her fans forget. The earliest article I’ve found on Julie is an excerpt from a studio publicity kit for the movie’s release. You can read that piece by clicking here on Nabonga. The article is really a hoot. Check out the Italian movie posters on this page. If I remember correctly the United States and Hollywood were still at war with Italy in 1944. Either Nabonga was released in Italy after VE-Day or her ape film showed the Italians what Americans were fighting for and they realized theirs was a  lost cause and brought an end to the hostilities.

Julie’s comments from a 1972 interview:

“It was a Grade Z African movie that was filled with stock footage. A real dog of a picture. I just turned 17 and needed that $300 a week. It came in mighty handily. Buster Crabbe was the star and he was awfully nice to this newcomer and he still had a good physique. The publicity claimed Nabonga was a tamed gorilla but it was Ray Corrigan in that monkey suit. You think I was stupid enough to get into a cage with a real gorilla?

Once I turned on the TV in Berlin and "Nabonga" was playing in German, so go figure. I remember Fifi D’Orsay, who left half way through when she stopped getting paid. At one point they thought of renaming it “White Goddess.” It came out after that Hedy Lamarr movie "White Cargo." I’m the gal who grew up in the jungle and still speaks perfect American! Critics asked why, in this study of darkest Africa, were there Indian elephants and American alligators. All I can say is that after this I could only get extra work.”

Below: Italian Movie Posters for The Terror of the Jungle

Note how Buster Crabbe is misspelled as Buster Grabbe in this Italian Poster

German - The Revenge Gorilla

Julie London, Nabonga and Buster Crabbe - 1944