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Found another one! It’s Drums of Africa (1963),
an exciting tale of love and slavery in the darkest continent! that is, A teen dream musical with Frankie Avalon! What I mean to say is, it’s marvelous really a marvelous piece of crap!
Let’s see…A guy goes to Africa in the 1910’s to survey a railroad site for his boss, brings along his boss’s lightweight teen son and goes on safari, employing ‘the best guide in Africa’ and falling for the lovely young missionary woman who works with the guide. Unfortunately, there are greedy slavers loose in the jungle, and his lady love is their main target! Sounds exciting right? Well…
Here’s our hero, David Moore (Lloyd Bochner, right) and teen-sidekick-that-he-didn’t-want-to-bring-along Brian Ferrers (Frankie Avalon) seeking out their guide.
With all this nice manliness on screen, the film inexplicably gives viewers a major beefcake valentine of…Marplon! (Torin Thatcher as Jack Cuortemayn )
(Okay, Sorry about that — I better cleanse your memory palate here…)
Anyway, Marplon spends the rest of the movie proving his virility to the other two guys by insisting on keeping his shirt unbuttoned…
And on the way out of his office, who should come screaming out of the jungle and into the arms of our hero but Zarabeth.(Mariette Hartley as Ruth Knight)
She’s being chased by slavers who find her pure whiteness a perfect target for their evil trade.
Zarabeth’s Ruth’s fresh faced beauty has the three men gaga for her and pitching woo. Of course for Frankie, that means–
Aaaaugggh! And what a sappy number it is (The River Love)
This was a step down for Hartley’s career. She had recently finished the brilliant Ride the High Country and compared this job to going from president to janitor in two days. Of course she’s virginal and sweet here, and has been too busy in her young life to know love. In one of queasiest moments of dialogue, Marlpon confides in Zarabeth that the only problem with their relationship is that they’re friends. Ugh!
But Zarabeth isn’t into a May-December with Marplon, or a December-May with Frankie, and despite the awesome gorgeousness of Marplon’s man-servant Kasongo (Hari Rhodes)…
…she can’t help but find herself attracted to bland white bread David (no surprise there). But first she has to do an obligatory Dove soap commercial…
He meets her after she’s squeaky clean, of course, compares trunks with a baby elephant, and she admits that his kiss ‘brought her world alive!” Please. Little does she realize that years later, her lover will change his name to Cecil Colby and die while copulating with Edith Keeler (In her Alexis Karrington years) on Dynasty! But that’s another post…
After much inter-cut animal action from King Soloman’s Mines, the pair live happily ever after in the jungle. Did the railroad come through? Did Marplon ever button his shirt? Did Frankie find Annette? Can’t remember, think I fell asleep… All in all 2 stars our of 5.