SHEENA—–another attempt to take an ‘Angel ‘ away from ‘Charlie ‘ and have her act. Just make sure to bring the body. As such, 29-year old lioness Tanya Roberts looks fit as a comic book heroine ought to, but her soft-porn presentation wasn’t enough to justify the $25,000,000 spent on this 1984 whopper, which turfed in but $5,778,000 and scads of bad reviews. Sheena (Tanya), kind of a lady Tarzan, grew to full babehood in the wilds of Africa, an orphan raised by a mystical witch woman (played by Elizabeth of Toro, real-deal Ugandan royalty *) and, depending on which advertising tag-line you want to believe, “She’ll fight like a tigress to save the land she loves…”, “She alone has the power to save Paradise” and is “Part Animal. Part Legend. All Woman.” (That last I myself have used to describe girlfriends, who can now wonder if it’s them specifically I’m mentioning at this point. Art becomes Life.)
John Guillerman directed: he’d had jungle practice with Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, Tarzan Goes To India, Shaft in Africa (“watch yo mouth!”) and the first remake of King Kong. Aside from riding a horse painted to look like a zebra, Sheena/Tanya has to issue proclamations like “Yes! You will be welcome in Zukuru! The head man’s locust bean cakes- they will be your locust bean cakes! His fermented buffalo milk will be your fermented buffalo milk!” For the sake of balance, she also takes a nude waterfall shower. Granted, it’s hard to beat the slo-motion-zebra-horse- trotting-intro-shot-in-low-cut skin-vest. Lensed on location in Kenya, the movie saw fit to outfit Africa’s measly animal lineup by featuring Bengal tigers, who normally hang out a mere 3,000 miles away in India.
With Ted Wass, who took the part only after consulting with the director because he “embraced all my ideas about strengthening and broadening the character. I thought if you were going to have a heroine, a fabulous figure like Sheena, she’d have to fall in love with someone who was as great from his own element – it wouldn’t work if she fell in love with a schmuck.” 117 minutes.
* Elizabeth of Toro, besides coming from royal Ugandan lineage, went to law school at Cambridge, became Uganda’s first female lawyer and Amin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Things got didi with Idi and she fled, becoming a fashion model. Sheena for real.