Tarzan knockoff films were very popular during the 1930s and 40s as well as female Tarzan-like films. As a result, these “Jungle Girl” films were made to cash in on this widespread interest of Tarzan and the curiosity of Africa. Two popular examples of Jungle Girl shows that could stand on their own were The Savage Girl and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.
The Savage Girl (1932): The Savage Girl, while perhaps not achieving the same production level as Tarzan the Ape Man, which was shot in the same year (1932) and featured Maureen O’Sullivan in her first appearance as Jane, is still good fun and presents an important early predecessor for many films about jungle women that followed, including those made popular by Dorothy Lamour.
Rochelle Hudson stars in this “fantasy” poverty row classic as the stunning female Tarzan heroine, swinging from vines, befriending, living with and protecting wild animals, and uttering only the simplest of language. The Savage Girl is a throwback film to an earlier era that still entertains and that lovers of B-movies will enjoy.
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (1955): Starring pin-up model Irish McCalla as the jungle queen, she was the first female comic book character to have a strip with her name and she was the female Tarzan. The 16 episodes included, which featured Sheena and hunter guide, Bob Rayburn, fighting assorted bad guys in the jungle, are generally standard fare stories produced with lower budgets that give the series the feel of a B-movie, but remains entertaining years later as the original Sheena on film.
For most fans of the jungle girl genre, Irish McCalla is Sheena, and no one has ever taken her place… or ever will.