Nabonga is another Poverty Row picture that you would naturally think stars a gorilla who would be named as such and there is, though for the most part, he is simply referred to as Samson. A little confusing perhaps, but at least for those who were expecting an adventure film starring an ape, they would not be disappointed. Despite the presence of said gorilla, there is really little of anything else to recommend this movie more than any other jungle film. It has all the necessary requirements that you would expect to see, it is only the fact that when it comes down to it, it is simply not as exciting or engrossing as it should be. On the plus side, there is a wee bit of mystery and a little bit of adventure to at least keep things moving.
As it is, you could probably say that it was okay, if a little tedious. Our hero, as played by one Buster Crabbe, did all right with the material given, but he was not so much a hero as he was a man who just barely made it to where he needed to go. There were a few moments where Crabbe would run into danger and instead of coming out of it looking like a million bucks; he sometimes hardly made it at all. When a hero faces hardships, that is the true measure of a man (or woman) and you have to establish that the leading man is just that and here, it was simply not done well enough at all. The main claim to fame for this movie is the fact that it was the first on-screen appearance for singer and actress Julie London. She was obviously quite young as evidenced by seeing London within the film and she would make do with the terrible dialogue given her, but it is by all accounts, a fairly forgettable role and more than likely, not the one she is most proud of.
Surprisingly, there is a bit of comedy and if you had your head turned away for a few moments, you could swear that Bob Hope had somehow wandered onto the set to deliver a few jokes. Sadly, the man never did, but this little bit of levity was one of the better moments in the entire movie, though ultimately, not enough to save it from being a mediocre affair. Still, mediocre, average or whatever you would want to call it, there is enough substance present that you will end up watching the entire film if you should deign to turn it on.
2.5 out of 5