TV Cream

TV: T is for...

Tales of the Gold Monkey

TRASHY HYBRID of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Maltese Falcon with STEPHEN COLLINS (as Jake Cutter) and company operating a seaplane service in the South Pacific circa 1938. On hand to fulfil “lovable rogue” duties was RODDY McDOWELL, bar owner and magistrate Bon Chance Louie, in white suit and panama hat.



  1. Dublin Matt

    April 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Remember loving this as a kid, before we had the Indy box sets for the real thing. There was a fit princess too if I remember rightly. Oh, and a one-eyed dog which, in one episode, got it’s eye back.

  2. George White

    October 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    A bit disturbing now that it’s been revealed that Collins is a nonce…

  3. THX 1139

    October 8, 2014 at 9:45 am

    He’s ruined Star Trek The Motion Picture too.

  4. THX 1139

    October 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    On a lighter note, I like how this entry manages to spell Roddy McDowall’s name wrong in two different ways. Roddy McDowall, Malcolm McDowell, you’ve gotta have a system.

  5. George White

    August 16, 2023 at 12:22 am

    Been watching this The pilot (directed by Avengers stuntman/regular ITV director Ray Austin, with RonMoody instead of Roddy) has a terrific end shot zooming out through a monkey’s cave to reveal a monkey-shaped palace.
    It’s a fun series, and unfortunately Collins is extremely likeable (though an ep where he kisses a nun and everyone is shocked is now kind of unfortunate, considering his ‘illicit wonderment’, to quote the Catholic Church).

    Nice Pacific atmosphere (and a fun turn by John McLiam as an Aussie miner named Drover).

  6. George White

    August 16, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    Watching both this and its rival Bring Em Back Alive (with Bruce Boxleitner, ironically first choice to play Jake), and god, while both are very similar (down to having many of the same guest actors, due to the small pool of Germanic actors in Hollywood, and AAPI actors too), both set in 1938-1939, in Asia, both revolve around bars/hotels (in a nod to Casablanca, itself the basis for the 3rd Shakin Raiders series of that era), and both even feature General MacArthur as a character (BEBA makes him a guest star character, played by Richard ‘Oscar Goldman’ Anderson). But though Boxleitner is a solid lead, the character of Frank Buck (yes, a real guy, but about twenty years older than Boxleitner was) is rather boring, and his coterie of characters (Clyde Kusatsu as Ali, Ron ‘Superfly’ O’Neal as H.H., the Malayan Sultan of Johore and Tron costar Cindy Morgan, plus Sean McClory as the Irish manager of Raffles, replacing Roger Newman as Lord Bumbershoot-type ‘Edward Ridley Jones’ in the pilot) while more diverse than the Gold Monkey lot aren’t as fun, and there is less sense of world-building. And it also is nowhere near as convincing in its tropical atmosphere (though both did shoot second unit/pilot stuff in Hawaii). ‘Singapore’ in BEBA feels just like Hollywood London but with more Asians (or actors of every race pretending to be Asian), down to red phone boxes and William Glover as pipe smoking Scotland Yard-type Inspector Jeffords a recurring presence. There are fun jokes (i.e. recurring ‘London Calling in ‘Allo ‘Allo’ British radio announcements from ‘Radio Singapore’) and efforts to employ as many Rentabrit/Aussie types, but it gets pretty samey, while Gold Monkey isn’t afraid to be trashy and fantastical, and do ‘Egyptian curse’ episodes and have semi-hominid monkey men, and Barrie Ingham as a Toht-type with a giant bomb superweapon. BEBA’s pilot does go heavy Raiders, even down to a Nazi monkey, but it just gets very dull.

    And while Irish-Japanese Princess Koji in Tales is played by a Panamanian actress, Marta Dubois, she feels more a character than the villains in BEBA – barely-sketched Sidney Greenstreet-meets-the-Hood bald of evil ‘man in the shadows’ GB Vonturgo (John Zee) has a good look, but no gravitas, and compared to Gold Monkey (where everyone is a stereotype but in a pulpy way), there is much brownface, especially in Vonturgo’s fez-wearing but supposedly Indian sidekick Bhundi (Keith Harris-alike Harvey Jason in gravy browning, much as he would be in The Lost World Jurassic Park). Bhundi is most excruciating (you get the sense they only get away the character because like Apu in the Simpsons, there weren’t that many Indians in America to complain, similar to how you’ll still see dodgy Latin American characters in British TV until the 2000s).

    Tales is slightly problematic, but BEBA is regularly ‘YIKES!!!’. But with Tales, you get the impression that they’re going full 30s serial, even down to using familiar Universal backlot locations, that Koji is very much a Maria Montez-type, that’s it’s all very much affectionate pastiche.

    Further Tales of the Gold Monkey guest stars – Guy Stockwell as a Cockernee hook-handed Birdseye-type named Ahab who is actually a hook-handed Oirish birdseye type.

    One joy of watching Tales of the Gold Monkey – getting American character types like Stefan Gierasch, John McLiam and Guy Stockwell in as spivs, ockers and Oirish sea captains.
    Like when Murder, She Wrote would get in John Karlen, Richard Riehle or Rod Taylor to play a Garda.

    Reading the script to the Tales of the Gold Monkey pilot, interesting that the ‘Black Man’ played by Johnny Sekka is specified as black British. And Sekka was pretty much the only black Brit out there at the time (bar John Ashley Hamilton and Calvin Lockhart, I suppose).
    Interesting the differences.
    In an ep, Kathryn Leigh Scott (b. 1943) mentions knowing Roy Dotrice (b.1923)’s Lord “when we were children”. I wondered if Dotrice’s character was written as younger, and indeed the script states he’s “near 40”, but Scott’s character is explicitly in her 20s, the niece of Edward VIII (played by an actor the same age as Scott) in both script and show.

    And that Guy Stockwell’s Ahab in the ep Shanghai is pretending to be Aussie not Cockney. And that the Frombys in Escape from Death Island are supposed to English, though Gerry Gibson, a Northern Irishman long in Australia is going for Ocker, and Xander Berkeley barely speaks.

    Interestingly, Stefan Gierasch’s Croon, characterised as a Cockney spiv but dressed like a French trapper is described in the script as ‘Liverpool Dock slime’.
    Love this description – ‘This is Arthur Fromby, a member of the British working class with a Cockney accent and a Beefeater’s complexion’.

  7. Richardpd

    August 16, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    Quite an interesting bit of casting, as there often is in this kind of production.

  8. George White

    August 19, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    What do you mean, as in other examples?

  9. Richardpd

    August 19, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    A few other telemovies & miniseries listed on this side have eccentric casting, often when they are set or filmed outside the USA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top