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Nyoka and the Tigermen Reviews

Reviewed By: Bruce Eder

The action in Nyoka and the Tigermen moves at a breakneck pace across 15 chapters, most of which are as exciting as anything in Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels (each of which drew a lot of their inspiration from this and one other Republic serial, Secret Service in Darkest Africa). Beyond its genuinely exciting plot, which intersects with reality just enough to keep even adults interested (there really are a North African people called the Tauregs), Nyoka and the Tigermen contains some delightful twists in its casting, production, and writing. Nyoka Gordon, as played by Kay Aldridge, is no typical movie heroine. She's beautiful, athletic, and resourceful, enough so that in the first chapter, she rides down Arab horsemen. She's perfectly capable of fighting, climbing, or diving her way out of trouble, a kind of 1940s American precursor to Emma Peel. Additionally, Lorna Gray's Vultura was, if anything, even more beautiful, and they make an enchanting pair of antagonists, especially when they mix it up physically. Both put 100 percent effort into their work here, assisted by one of the best directors and some of the best stuntmen in the business. Clayton Moore looked, if anything, better here than he did as the Lone Ranger at the other end of the decade and he made a dashing hero in his own right. Watch him in action here and see if he doesn't look like he would've been the perfect Bruce Wayne/Batman of his era. Even Emil Van Horn, in the silliest role in the movie -- as the gorilla Satan -- has a kind of visceral impact as this constantly menacing beast. Working from one of the best scripts that the studio ever devised for one of its serials, director William Witney and a crew of top stuntmen (including David Sharpe and a young Jay Silverheels), made this one of the most exciting serials ever to come out of Hollywood. More than that, the resulting chapterplay has an appeal that cuts across the ages, as demonstrated by the debt owed to it by the Indiana Jones movies.