Monday, September 2, 2013
YEAR 1941: NYOKA THE JUNGLE GIRL
The early 1940s saw a very short-lived smattering of female-centric adventure-serials, and the only one that enjoyed a second iteration-- itself a rare event in the serial world-- was the "Nyoka" franchise, ostensibly derived from an Edgar Rice Burroughs entitled "Jungle Girl." In truth neither of the two Nyoka serials shared any elements of the Burroughs story.
The 1941 JUNGLE GIRL was a good basic serial, starring Frances Gifford as Nyoka Meredith, daughter of a jungle-dwelling doctor who gets mixed up with evil treasure-hunters. Evidently the serial made enough money to spawn a second in the series the very next year, though the writers rechristened her "Nyoka Gordon" and made her the daughter of an archaeologist working in North Africa.
PERILS OF NYOKA, as noted here, remains one of the best serials of the period. I observed that "director William Witney-- admittedly working with the highest budget Republic ever gave to a serial-- consistently keeps the action pumping at a high pace. Characters never walk when they can run, never run when they can leap, and so on." Nyoka herself is not a deep character, but she's one of the few kickass heroines of the 1940s, both in fights with male adversaries and her delectable foe Vultura. This version would seem to be the template from which Fawcett adapted their moderately successful comic-book feature.