There are plenty of laughs to be had in Sheena, but it’s quite impossible to tell how many of them were intentional. Attempt to install this 1930s jungle heroine in the pantheon of the contempo adventure icons fails to find a consistent tone. Columbia’s $26 million invesment in this long-in-the-works project seems precarious.
Based on the comic strip books Sheena, Queen of the Jungle by S.M. Eiger and Will Eisner, story cooked up by David Newman and Leslie Stevens is acceptable: orphaned in deepest Africa, much like Tarzan, a blonde-tressed Sheena is raised by a remote, noble tribe and appears to be the fulfillment of a prophecy concerning a mysterious lady who will protect it in dire times.
Yank TV producer Ted Wass and his cameraman (Donovan Scott) arrive in the Kingdom of Tigorda to do a feature on Prince Otwani, an arrogant hotshot who has played football in the US and speeds around the impoverished country in his Mercedes convertible. The prince knocks off his brother to assume power.
In the midst of all this, Roberts and Wass find the time to fall in love. Pleasing as Roberts’ statuesque physique may be, it’s eye-popping in a PG-rated film to see her indulge in an au naturel waterfall shower, or conduct an extended dialog scene with Wass totally in the buff. Result is a t&a kidpic.
A pro when it comes to logistics and widescreen lensing, directer John Guillermin does a passable job with the action. Fact that film was shot entirely on location in Kenya is an enjoyable plus.