Entry updated 7 February 2022. Tagged: Film.
Films about Tarzan are of varying interest, and are treated accordingly. Early examples made some pretence of following the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs; later films abandoned that pretence. Several actors played Tarzan himself. The most famous were Johnny Weissmuller (9 to 24) and Lex Barker (25 to 29). For further Jungle Movies see Bomba Films and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.
1. Tarzan of the Apes (1918) US film. National Film Corporation of America/First National. Produced by William Parsons. Directed by Scott Sidney. Written by Lois Weber, Fred Miller. Based on Tarzan of the Apes (1914) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Cast includes True Boardman (John Clayton, Earl of Greystoke), George B French (Binns), Gordon Griffith (young Tarzan), Thomas Jefferson (Professor Porter), Colin Kenny (Cecil), Kathleen Kirkham (Alice, Lady Greystoke), Elmo Lincoln (born Otto Elmo Linkenhelter) (Tarzan), Enid Markey (Jane Porter). circa 95 minutes (8 reels). Black and white. Silent.
There is a mutiny aboard the Fuwalda, bound for Africa, and a sailor called Binns saves Lord and Lady Greystoke from death at the hands of the crew, but the trio are marooned on a jungle-girt shore; soon afterwards Binns is abducted by slavers. The Greystokes have a baby, and then die. The infant is reared by Kala the she-ape, who dubs him Tarzan (see Apes as Human). Years pass. Tarzan finds his parents' cabin and a knife, which weapon enables him to become top ape (see Imperialism). Binns, free of the slavers, befriends Tarzan and teaches him to read; he then returns to England (see Decadence), where the incumbent Greystokes commit him to an asylum to prevent his claiming his inheritance. However, a party is eventually sent to Africa, among them Jane Porter and her father, plus Tarzan's cousin Cecil. Tarzan secretly observes them and, when Cecil tries to seduce Jane, beats him up; he then rescues Jane from, in succession, a lion, a rapist and a hostile tribe. At last she agrees to remain in the jungle with him.
Tarzan of the Apes, a lavish production (it cost about $300,000, and was shot partly on location in Brazil) was a great hit, turning its production company and distributor into major commercial forces and making Elmo Lincoln a star. However, Burroughs, earlier wildly enthusiastic about the bringing of his hero to the screen, seems to have cooled dramatically by the time of the film's release, probably because its depiction of Tarzan as a brutish, inarticulate giant was a long way from the civilized John Clayton of the written tales. Burroughs made unsuccessful efforts to halt the inevitable sequel. [JGr]
2. The Romance of Tarzan (1918) US film. National Film Corporation of America/First National. Produced by William Parsons. Directed by Wilfred Lucas. Written by Bess Meredyth. Based on Tarzan of the Apes (1914) by Burroughs. Cast includes True Boardman (John Clayton, Earl of Greystoke), George B French (Binns), Gordon Griffith (young Tarzan), Thomas Jefferson (Professor Porter), Colin Kenny (Cecil), Kathleen Kirkham (Lady Greystoke), Elmo Lincoln (Tarzan), Cleo Madison (La Belle Odine), Enid Markey (Jane). circa 82 minutes (7 reels). Black and white. Silent.
This follows the early story of 1, but diverges when the search party arrives from England. After Tarzan has saved the party from hostile natives, Cecil persuades the others he has seen Tarzan die, so they set sail. Eventually Tarzan makes his way to California, where he joins what passes for polite society near the Mexican border. By astonishing coincidence, a kidnapped Jane has also been brought here, and he rescues her. Foiling a murderous plot by Cecil and the loose but beautiful Odine (who succumbs to Tarzan's charms), Tarzan woos Jane; but Cecil has told her that Tarzan loves Odine, and she rejects her jungle lover, who returns disconsolately home. Odine confesses the truth to Jane who, with her father, sets forth once more for Africa. [JGr]
3. The Revenge of Tarzan (1920) US film. Numa/Goldwyn. Produced by George M Merrick. Directed by Harry Revier. Written by Robert Saxmar. Based on The Return of Tarzan (1915) by Burroughs. Cast includes Franklin Coates (Paul D'Arnot), Armand Cortez (Nicholas Rokoff), Walter Miller (Ivan Paulovich), Gene Pollar (Tarzan), George Romain (Count de Coude), Karla Schramm (Jane), Estelle Taylor (Countess de Coude). circa 82 minutes (7 reels). Black and white. Silent.
Filmed as The Return of Tarzan but released cut from 9 reels to 7 and with the name changed, this represented a rapid decline even from 2. It was the only movie featuring the new Tarzan, Gene Pollar (born Joe Pohler), a New York fireman. Tarzan, sojourning in civilization, tries to thwart a scam and earns the mortal enmity of Paulovich and Rokoff, who remain undefeated at movie's end – although at least Tarzan is reunited with Jane, who is serendipitously shipwrecked on the Island on which Tarzan's enemies have marooned him. [JGr]
4. The Son of Tarzan (1920) US serial film. National Film Corporation of America. Directed by Arthur J Flaven, Harry Revier. Written by Roy Somerville. Based on The Son of Tarzan (1917) by Burroughs. Cast includes Eugene Burr (Ivan Paulovich), Mae Giraci (young Meriem), Gordon Griffith (young Korak/Jack), Manilla Martan (Meriem), Karla Schramm (Jane), Kamuela C Searle (Korak), P Dempsey Tabler (Tarzan). 15 episodes. Black and white. Silent.
The real star of this tortuous tale is Jack, son of Tarzan and Jane, who have long been married and living as Lord and Lady Greystoke in civilization. Paulovich (from 3) is still intent on revenge, especially when Jack disrupts his exhibition in England (see Zoo) of Akut, one of Tarzan's old ape friends. Akut and Jack abscond to Africa, where the lad rescues a girl-child, Meriem, from Arab slavers and becomes Korak. The two grow up together and fall in love. Discovering their son is still alive, Tarzan and Jane come to fetch him; both women are captured by and rescued from the slavers, whose sheik Korak eventually kills. Korak is saved from death at the stake by a friendly elephant, and, reunited, all set sail for home.
In reality, Searle was fatally injured during his "rescue" by the elephant, and Korak's last few scenes were filmed with a substitute, seen only from the rear. This tragedy significantly increased the serial's popularity. An edited feature-film version (circa 111 minutes) was released in 1923 as Jungle Trail of the Son of Tarzan. [JGr]
5. The Adventures of Tarzan (1921) US serial film. Weiss Brothers-Numa/Great Western. Directed by Robert F Hill. Written by Hill, Lillian Valentine. Based on The Return of Tarzan (1915) by Burroughs. Cast includes Charles Islee (Professor Porter), Elmo Lincoln (Tarzan), Louise Lorraine (Jane), Frank Whitson (Nicholas Rokoff), Lillian Worth (La). 15 episodes, re-edited 1928 as 10 episodes. Black and white. Silent.
The early story of Tarzan and his romance with Jane is rehashed; the rest of the serial is a nonstop collection of adventures in which Tarzan saves Jane from kidnappers, hostile natives, wild animals and more. The whole is fuelled by two McGuffins: a nerve-gas formula (see Inventions) stolen by the villainous Rokoff (from 3); and the treasure of the jungle kingdom of Opar, the only map to this Lost World happening to be tattooed on Jane's shoulder. [JGr]
6. Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927) US film. RC Pictures/FBO Gold Bond. Executive producer Joseph P Kennedy. Directed by J P McGowan. Written by William Wing. Based on Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1923) by Burroughs. Cast includes Dorothy Dunbar (Jane), Boris Karloff (Chief), Lui Yu-Ching (Weesimbo), Edna Murphy (Flora Hawkes), Fred Peters (Esteban Miranda), Jim Pierce (Tarzan). circa 75 minutes (6 reels). Black and white. Silent.
Tarzan's old friend Weesimbo tells him of the treasures of the lost City of Diamonds. Villainous Miranda, overhearing, abducts Weesimbo (plus Jane's niece Flora and her fiancé) and makes him act as guide. Tarzan pursues with his golden lion Jad-bal-ja, saves Flora from human sacrifice and returns home triumphant. [JGr]
7. Tarzan the Mighty (1928) US serial film. Universal. Produced by William Lord Wright. Directed by Jack Nelson. Written by Ian McClosky Heath. Based on Jungle Tales of Tarzan (coll 1919) by Burroughs. Cast includes Al Ferguson (Black John), Lorimer Johnston (Lord Greystoke), Natalie Kingston (Mary Trevor), Frank Merrill (Tarzan), Bobby Nelson (Bobby Trevor). 15 episodes. Black and white. Silent.
Another rewrite of Tarzan's biography. Black John, of a villainous jungle "tribe" descended from pirates, discovers shipwrecked Mary Trevor and her little brother Bobby on the shore. Tarzan and Mary become interested in each other; Black John threatens Bobby will die unless Mary marries him. Tarzan rescues Mary, and she tells him some old documents he cannot read are proof he is the Greystoke heir. Black John obtains the documents and pretends – in hope of gaining both girl and title – first to be Tarzan and then Tarzan's uncle, Lord Greystoke, who has by chance arrived in search of the heir. Leopards rip Black John to bits; Tarzan is offered the luxuries of England but determines to remain in the jungle with Mary as his loving "bride". [JGr]
8. Tarzan the Tiger (1929) US serial film. Produced by William Lord Wright. Directed by Henry McRae. Written by Ian McClosky Heath. Based on Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1918) by Burroughs. Cast includes Mohammed Bey (Paul Panzer), Al Ferguson (Albert Werper), Natalie Kingston (Jane), Kithnou (La), Sheldon Lewis (Achmet Zek), Frank Merrill (Tarzan), Clive Morgan (Philip Annersley). 15 episodes. Black and white. Silent.
Tarzan goes back to the Lost World of Opar (see 5) to gather extra gold for the Greystoke estates, but in an accident is hit on the head and loses his memory (see Amnesia). Despite this, despite the villainous wiles of Zek, Werper and Annersley, and even despite the lustful grapplings of Queen La of Opar, Tarzan manages to recover not only sufficient jewels to pay off the estate debts but also to regain his memory, in the process twice saving Jane from a ghastly doom. A dubbed version of this, the last of the silent Tarzan films, was released: it had sound effects, music and Tarzan's triumphal yell, but no dialogue. [JGr]
9. Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) US film. MGM. Produced by Bernard H Hyman. Directed by W S Van Dyke. Written by Cyril Hume, Ivor Novello. Cast includes Alfredo Codona (Weissmuller's body-double), Neil Hamilton (Harry Holt), Forrester Harvey (Beamish), Doris Lloyd (Mrs Cutten), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane Parker), C Aubrey Smith (James Parker), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Ivory Williams (Riano). 99 minutes. Black and white.
Jane comes to Africa to find her father. He, with partner Holt, is about to set out in search of the Elephant's Graveyard (and its ivory), reputed to lie beyond the Taboo-ridden Mutia Escarpment. She goes with them, and is soon captured as a curiosity by the wordless Tarzan, to whose sexuality she responds with innocent curiosity. She is recovered by Holt and her father, who kill an ape in the process; an angry Tarzan murders most of the Black members of the expedition by way of revenge, but is then himself shot by Holt. The elephant Timba carries Jane to Tarzan, and while nursing him back to health she falls in love with him. Later the expedition is captured by a tribe of murderous dwarfs, and rescued by Tarzan and a herd of elephants. Jane, her father having died, determines to remain in the jungle as Tarzan's mate.
Cinema's mythology persists in depicting this as a fine movie, but in fact it is little better than its precursors in the series, and the sexual electricity that made later Weissmuller/O'Sullivan Tarzan collaborations so memorable failed to spark here. Furthermore, it is unremittingly racist: the only way of dealing with darkies, it seems, is by use of the whip; indeed, the Black members of the safari are less servants than slaves. [JGr]
10. Tarzan the Fearless (1933) US serial and feature film. Wardour/Sol Lesser/Principal. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Robert F Hill. Written by Walter Anthony, Basil Dickey, George Plympton, William Lord Wright. Based on an original story, possibly by Burroughs. Cast includes Mischa Auer (Eltar), Matthew Betz (Nick Moran), Symonia Boniface (Arab woman), Buster Crabbe (Tarzan), Frank Lackteen (Abdul), Philo McCullough (Jeff Herbert), E Alyn Warren (Dr Brooks), Jacqueline Wells (Mary Brooks), Eddie Woods (Bob Hall). 12-episode serial, 85 minutes feature (only feature survives). Black and white.
Mary Brooks is part of a safari come to Africa to seek her father, a Scientist who is a good friend of Tarzan's. She first encounters the apeman when she foolishly goes skinny-dipping in a croc-infested river (the apparent bareness of her buttocks possibly had consequences for 11), and love ensues. Co-expeditioners Herbert and Moran have been offered £10,000 by the Greystoke estate if they can bring back proof Tarzan is dead, but give this up when they discover Dr Brooks has departed in search of a temple packed with treasure; also in the party are nice Bob Hall, in love with Mary, and sinister Arabs Abdul and his lovely sidekick, who kidnap her ... There is much more of this: the movie is overloaded with plot, its genesis as a serial being very obvious in its need to have regular, increasingly arbitrary cliffhangers.
Existing prints of Tarzan the Fearless are made up of the first four episodes of the serial, initially released together as an hour-long teaser, plus cobbled-on surviving bits from the other episodes. [JGr]
11. Tarzan and His Mate (1934) US film. MGM. Produced by Bernard H Hyman. Directed by Jack Conway (uncredited), Cedric Gibbons. Written by James Kevin McGuinness. Cast includes Paul Cavanagh (Martin Arlington), Alfredo Codona (Weissmuller's body-double), Nathan Curry (Saidi), Neil Hamilton (Harry Holt), Forrester Harvey (Beamish), Josephine McKim (O'Sullivan's body-double), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), Desmond Roberts (Henry Van Ness), William Stack (Tom Pierce), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 116 minutes, cut to 95 minutes for general release; restored 1991 video release 104 minutes. Black and white.
Holt (from 9) is still optimistic that he can win Jane. He lures to Africa his sociopathic old friend Arlington, an ivory merchant keen to discover the Elephants' Graveyard; attempting to thwart them are Pierce and Van Ness. They meet Tarzan when he calls off a band of giant apes from slaughtering the safari's bearers; Arlington is immediately smitten by Jane. Tarzan and Jane live in a state of Pastoral bliss, innocently sexual until the Westerners start to introduce foreign concepts like "modesty"; the Beauty and the Beast [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] theme is frequently underlined, as when Tarzan repeatedly saves Jane from wild animals, being an animal himself during these contests (most of which were recycled intact in later Weissmuller films). When Tarzan learns of the expedition's intended destination he declines to lead it further, regarding the pillaging of the Elephants' Graveyard as a desecration; Arlington, who has already murdered one of the bearers, promptly shoots and mortally wounds one of Tarzan's elephant friends, so that, dying, it will lead them to the Graveyard. Tarzan heads a herd of elephants to stop the theft of the ivory; Arlington agrees to return his loot, but next day shoots Tarzan and persuades Jane her lover has been killed by a crocodile. But Tarzan is alive, as Jane soon discovers. By then, however, the expedition is being attacked by hostile natives and a vast herd of lions. Tarzan arrives with his elephants to save Jane, though too late to save the others.
This was a long movie for its day, and even longer at its premiere, before the Legion of Decency protested – possibly in part because Jacqueline Wells had bared much in 10 – but in the main because, despite the adventures, Tarzan and His Mate is essentially a movie about Sex, depicting its innocence in surroundings uncorrupted by "morals". There is nothing remotely objectionable to the modern eye about the virtually garbless Jane or even when we are given a glimpse of her naked body-double, a moment notably fictionalized in Theodore Roszak's Flicker (1991); it is only when she is dressed in acceptably feminized clothing, brought to Africa by the Englishmen, that any hint of voyeurism intrudes (see Women in SF). In short, Tarzan and His Mate deliberately argued that sex is a moral activity unless fetishized. Needless to say, for the Legion of Decency sight of an underclad woman was inherently offensive; a brief sequence in which Tarzan and Jane decide to head treewards for an (off-screen) bout of lovemaking further aroused the Legion's ire. As a consequence, none of the further MGM Tarzan movies risked moving beyond prurience.
This film cannot be described as a distinguished debate between innocence, on the one hand, and decorum, on the other – it is too marred by pointless adventures and bad special effects for that – yet it does represent an important landmark in the way the Cinema was prepared to depict sexuality before the Hayes Code locked in. It is certainly the best of the Weissmuller Tarzan movies. [JGr]
see also: One Million B.C. (1940).
12. The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935; vt Tarzan's New Adventure) US serial film. Burroughs/Tarzan Enterprises. Produced by Ashton Dearholt. Directed by Edward Kull. Written by Charles F Royal. Based on original story by Burroughs. Cast includes Frank Baker (Major Martling), Herman Brix credited as Bruce Bennett (Tarzan), Don Costello (Raglan), Ashton Dearholt (Raglan), Harry Ernest (Gordon Hamilton), Ula Holt (Ula Vale), Dale Walsh (Alice Martling). 12 episodes. Black and white.
With varying purposes, the cast set out from Africa to Guatemala in search of a statue stuffed with jewels: the Lost Goddess of the Dead City. After battles with the Mayans whose property the sacred object is, our heroes share the valuables among themselves. This serial, in which Burroughs himself was directly involved (note production credits), was later edited as a feature, The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935). It was sequelled by 14, also from Burroughs/Tarzan Enterprises. [JGr]
13. Tarzan Escapes (1936) US film. MGM. Associate producer Sam Zimbalist. Directed by Richard Thorpe. Written by Cyril Hume. Cast includes John Buckler (Captain Fry), E E Clive (Masters), William Henry (Eric Parker), Benita Hume (Rita Parker), Darby Jones (Bomba), Herbert Mundin (Herbert Henry Rawlins), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 95 minutes. Black and white.
Jane's Uncle Peter has died, leaving her half his fortune. Her impecunious cousins – his other niece Rita and nephew Eric – come to Africa to persuade her to return briefly to England so she may claim her inheritance and give much of it to further Eric's studies. Unscrupulous big-game hunter Fry leads them on safari to the Mutia Escarpment, his plan being to capture the "great white gorilla" said to live there as King of the Apes and bring him back for public display in a specially constructed "durallium" cage ("I'll guarantee it'll hold anything"). Fry – who later tries to barter the lives of the rest with the murderous Hymandi tribe – eventually gets his comeuppance, and Tarzan and Jane are left in peace in their jungle idyll.
This version of Tarzan Escapes – a previous version having been scrapped because felt by MGM not to be exciting enough – is marked by an increased domestication of Tarzan and especially Jane, who now sleeps fully clothed in a far more demure costume (see 11); the pair have an elaborate tree house with cleverly constructed mod cons. The Bomba here is the leader of Fry's native bearers, and is not to be confused with the hero of the Bomba Films. [JGr]
14. Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1937) US film. Burroughs/Tarzan Enterprises. Produced by Ashton Dearholt. Directed by Edward Kull. Special effects Howard Anderson, Ray Mercer. Written by Charles F Royal. Based on an original story by Burroughs. Cast includes Frank Baker (Major Martling), Herman Brix (Tarzan), Don Costello (Raglan), Ula Holt (Ula Vale). 72 minutes. Black and white.
This sequel to 12 was in fact directly derived from 12, with some clever editing and a modicum of new footage being used to create a fresh story. The statue stolen by our heroes in 12 apparently contains, aside from the jewels, the formula for a super-explosive (see Weapons). After many adventures the baddies are slain and the goodies decorated, back in the UK, for their services to civilization. Although theoretically set in Guatemala the wildlife on show includes lions and rhinoceroses. This was the end of Burroughs's dream of seeing his own version of Tarzan on screen. [JGr]
15. Tarzan's Revenge (1938) US film. 20th Century-Fox/Principal. Produced by Sol Lesser. Directed by D Ross Lederman. Written by Robert Lee Johnson, Jay Vann. Based on "a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs", although it is difficult to establish which. Cast includes George Barbier (Roger Reed), C Henry Gordon (Ben Aley Bey), Eleanor Holm (Eleanor Reed), Hedda Hopper (Penny Reed), John Lester Johnson (Koki), George Meeker (Nevin Potter), Corbet Morris (Jigger), Glenn Morris (Tarzan), Joe Sawyer (Olav). 70 minutes. Black and white.
Pretty, spoilt Eleanor Reed, her toping father Roger, her allergic mother Penny, her humourless, cowardly fiancé Nevin and their servant Jigger arrive near Toocompac, on the Luckbar River, for a hunting safari; they hire twitchy, drying-out alcoholic Olav as local guide, little realizing he is also in the pay of Sheikh Ben Aley Bey, ruler of a region further inland; earlier Bey had been captivated by Eleanor, and he commands Olav to deliver her to his harem. Tarzan, also captivated by Eleanor and keen, too, to protect the wildlife, secretly dogs the safari, and saves the day. Eleanor decides to stay with Tarzan as the others return to Evanston, Illinois.
In many ways this is a much better movie than its approximate contemporaries in the Weissmuller series (although one is far more conscious of the fact that it is shot on set, not on location), and it lacks the dreadful recycled sequences. Yet it is largely affectless – in part because there is no O'Sullivan but perhaps in larger part because it is a story of white folk who encounter Tarzan in Africa rather than one about Tarzan's (and Jane's) interactions with white folk in his Land-of-Fable [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] home territory. [JGr]
16. Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) US film. MGM. Produced by Sam Zimbalist. Directed by Richard Thorpe. Written by Cyril Hume. Cast includes Laraine Day (Mrs Richard Lancing), Ian Hunter (Austin Lancing), Frieda Inescort (Mrs Austin Lancing), Morton Lowry (Richard Lancing), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), John Sheffield (Boy), Henry Stephenson (Sir Thomas Lancing), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Henry Wilcoxon (Sande). 95 minutes. Black and white.
Their baby son is the only survivor when the plane bearing Richard Lancing (favourite nephew of Neville, Lord Greystoke) and his wife crashes on the Mutia Escarpment. The infant is rescued by chimps in a reprise of Tarzan's own earliest history; but then Cheeta brings the child to Tarzan and Jane, who adopt him – naming him, at Tarzan's insistence, "Boy". Five years later Lord Greystoke is dead, having left his fortune to his nephew Richard and Richard's heirs, to be held in trust for twenty years unless it can be proven Richard is dead. To the Mutia Escarpment comes a safari led by Lord Greystoke's brother Thomas and including Richard's cousin Austin and his wife, who hope to find all dead so they can inherit, plus local hunter-guide Sande. Invited to the treehouse for a grotesque parody of a suburban lunch party, they tell their story. Jane immediately sends Tarzan and Boy off on a swimming expedition so they will not see her lie when she claims the plane crash left no survivors. That swimming expedition – including underwater sequences with an elephant and a turtle – is one of the most charming and effective stretches in the entire oeuvre; it ends with Tarzan saving Boy from tumbling over a huge waterfall. Sir Thomas, watching, recognizes features of Richard in Boy, and is all for doing the decent thing; but the others decide to take Boy to England where, as guardians, they may exploit his fortune. Having been persuaded that she owes it to Boy to let him take up his inheritance, Jane traps Tarzan in a ravine and sets off alongside Boy with the safari, promising to return. Sir Thomas is murdered by Austin, who then leads the party into hostile Zambeli territory; they are captured and an orgy of human sacrifice starts. Jane is wounded aiding Boy escape to fetch Tarzan and, when he arrives at the head of a herd of elephants, she seems to be dying. But Tarzan's declaration of love revives her, and the family is reunited, the Lancings being peremptorily dismissed.
Although the persistent use of ludicrously speeded-up motion makes some action sequences hilarious rather than exciting, there is comparatively little use here of matter recycled from earlier Tarzan movies, and overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable film. It is also often affecting, thanks to the brilliance of O'Sullivan's performance as she struggles with the difficulties of explaining ethical complexities to one so determinedly simplistic as Tarzan; Weissmuller does well as her foil. This was Sheffield's first appearance: he played in seven further films (17-23) before going off to star in the Bomba Films. [JGr]
17. Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) US film. MGM. Produced by B P Fineman. Directed by Richard Thorpe. Special effects Warren Newcombe. Written by Myles Connolly, Paul Gangelin. Cast includes Tom Conway (Medford), Philip Dorn (Vandermeer), Barry Fitzgerald (Dennis O'Doul), Cordell Hickman (Tumbo), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), Reginald Owen (Professor Elliott), John Sheffield (Boy), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 81 minutes. Black and white.
The first of the real Tarzan-by-numbers movies of the Weissmuller sequence. Life is yet more domesticated in the Tarzan household, with even an egg-timer and a refrigerator. Finding gold nuggets on the riverbed during a family swim, Boy is treated to a lecture by Jane and then Tarzan on the meaning of riches: gold is valueless, because you cannot eat it. Yet off Boy goes, leaving a note: "Gone to see Civilzashun. Back tomorrow." Instead he finds African boy Tumbo being threatened by a rhino, and saves his life. Tumbo's village is plague-ridden: Tumbo's mother dies as the two lads watch. The rest – including the famous Rubber Crocodile and O'Doul, a comic-cuts Irishman – is predictable.
Despite the dreary recycling, the Weissmuller sequence had kept up a reasonably high standard until now; this was the beginning of the slide. O'Sullivan, visibly ageing (18 would be her last Tarzan movie), acts as if her redundancy notice had been served. There is a nastily racist moment when Cheeta, offered a photograph of a disc-lipped tribesman, kisses it passionately – a pointed reminder that the entire series is irradiated by racism (see Race in SF). Cordell Hickman's Tumbo, and his relationship with Boy, illumine an otherwise bleak landscape. [JGr]
18. Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942) US film. MGM. Produced by Frederick Stephani. Directed by Richard Thorpe. Special effects Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe. Written by Myles Connolly, William R Lipman. Cast includes Charles Bickford (Buck Rand), Virginia Grey (Connie Beach), Russell Hicks (Judge Abbotson), Paul Kelly (Jimmy Shields), Cy Kendall (Ralph Sargent), Elmo Lincoln (Roustabout), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), John Sheffield (Boy), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Chill Wills (Manchester Mountford). 71 minutes. Black and white.
Nasty Rand and moderately nice Mountford arrive on the Mutia Escarpment in a plane piloted by very nice Shields, their aim to capture wild lions for Sargent's Circus, Long Island, USA. Tarzan gives them twenty-four hours to complete their mission and get out. They are leaving when Boy appears, impressing them by his tricks with three baby elephants. They plot to kidnap him, but Shields vetoes this; Mountford, too, is on Boy's side after Boy saves him from a lion. The Joconi attack. Boy calls Tarzan, but the Joconi set the shrub on fire. Believing Tarzan and Jane dead, the Westerners take Boy back to America, with Tarzan, Jane and Cheeta in pursuit. The three have merry enfant-sauvage adventures in New York before rescuing Boy and, in court, being granted permanent custodianship of the lad.
Despite its fervent attempt to break the series mould, this is a flat movie. It was to be the last Weissmuller made for MGM: he moved with Sheffield to Sol Lesser at RKO, in the process losing O'Sullivan (who retired temporarily from the movies to tend a husband with typhus) and much of the series' scant remaining interest. This was a miserable swansong for O'Sullivan, an actress too fine for the role: she would not again attain cinematic fame until Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), where among her co-stars was her daughter Mia Farrow. Elmo Lincoln, who had played Tarzan in 1, 2 and 5, has a bit part. [JGr]
19. Tarzan Triumphs (1943) US film. RKO/Principal. Produced by Sol Lesser. Directed by William Thiele. Written by Roy Chanslor, Carroll Young. Cast includes Stanley Brown (Achmet), Pedro de Cordoba (Patriarch), Frances Gifford (Zandra), Stanley Ridges (Colonel von Reichart), Sig Rumann (Sergeant), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Philip Van Zandt (Bausch), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Rex Williams (Corporal Reinhardt Schmidt). 78 minutes. Black and white.
A propaganda movie – anti both the Nazis and the US noninterventionist movement (see World War Two) – but a surprisingly good addition to the oeuvre. Jane has gone to England to tend her sick mother (a close analogue to the real reason for O'Sullivan's absence; see 18 above). Boy, straying near the lost city of Palandria, is rescued from a scrape by Zandra, a woman of that city. Soon a Nazi plane lands paratroopers in Palandria; the radio operator, Schmidt, inadvertently falls as far afield as Tarzan's home, where (calling himself Shelton) he is nursed by Tarzan and Boy. He betrays their trust by trying to use his radio to call in a Nazi invasion force; but when he attempts to kill Cheeta (who throughout Tarzan Triumphs is more of a Trickster [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] than ever before) he himself is killed by one of her elephant friends. The Nazis swiftly enslave Palandria; Zandra flees when her brother Achmet is murdered, and seeks help from Tarzan. Boy is on her side, but Tarzan feels that, if the Nazis do not directly harm him, he has no quarrel with them. However, when the Nazis come from Palandria to seize the radio and take Boy as well, Tarzan at last declares war. As a final propagandistic joke, when German HQ hear Cheeta gabbling and screeching over the radio they assume it is a broadcast from Der Führer.
The huge gap in the film is of course the absence of O'Sullivan; Gifford, physically much like her, does her best, but there can be no romance between her and Tarzan – mighty man of jungle not commit adultery. The shift from MGM to RKO did thankfully mean the end (for a while) of recycled action scenes. [JGr]
20. Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by William Thiele. Written by Edward T Lowe, Carroll Young. Cast includes Lloyd Corrigan (Sheik), Nancy Kelly (Connie Bryce), Otto Kruger (Paul Hendrix/Heinrich), Robert Lowery (Selim), Joe Sawyer (Karl), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 70 minutes. Black and white.
Jane, still in England, sends a message begging Tarzan to take some of his jungle medicine to help fever-stricken Allied soldiers in Burma. With Boy and Cheeta, he crosses the desert to the patch of jungle where the relevant vines grow. En route he releases a wild stallion, Jana, from a gang of thugs. These thugs are in the entourage of Hendrix, alias Heinrich, a Nazi who has tricked the Sheik of nearby Birherari into accepting him as right-hand man. Elsewhere, Sheik Amir of Alakibra has asked peripatetic American magician Bryce to convey to Selim, Birherari's Crown Prince, a note to the effect that Hendrix/Heinrich is a spy. Bryce, saved from a desert ambush by Tarzan and Boy, is escorted by them to Birherari. There Tarzan is immediately imprisoned for the theft of Jana. Selim receives the note from Bryce, but is immediately murdered by Heinrich; as he dies he gives it to Cheeta. Bryce, framed for the murder, is sentenced to hang. Tarzan bursts out of Prison and, with Boy and Jana, saves Bryce; they go to the patch of jungle containing the medicinal vines – also found there are giant lizards (see Dinosaurs), man-eating plants and a bull-sized tarantula (& Great and Small; Monsters), which almost has Boy before eating Heinrich instead. Back in Birherari our heroes are honoured.
The poorness of realization of this movie is bizarre: that a patch of jungle should exist in the middle of the desert is weird; that it should be populated by an elephant herd (which rescues Tarzan from a mantrap plant) beggars belief; that it should be further populated by prehistoric Monsters is, in context, almost acceptable. [JGr]
21. Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) US film. RKO. Produced by Sol Lesser. Directed by Kurt Neumann. Written by John Jacoby, Marjorie L Pfaelzer. Cast includes Don Douglas (Anders), Steven Geray (Brenner), Brenda Joyce (Jane), J M Kerrigan (Splivvers), Barton MacLane (Ballister), Shirley O'Hara (Athena), Maria Ouspenskaya (Queen), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Henry Stephenson (Sir Guy Henderson), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 76 minutes. Black and white.
On the way to welcome back Jane (now of course played by Joyce), Tarzan and Boy save Athena from a couple of leopards and a black panther. They take her home to the a land "beyond the mountains", Palmyria, ruled matriarchally yet worshipping a male Sun god (see Gods and Demons) and his associated serpent and "ever-living tree". A scientific expedition led by Henderson arrives on the same boat as Jane and spots Athena's dropped bracelet, which Cheeta has purloined. They determine, with the aid of murderous local agent Ballister, to seek Palmyria, a notion vetoed by Tarzan but approved by Boy, who guides them. In Palmyria they are promptly sentenced, as male intruders (Tarzan is exempt from this rule), to death – a sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Athena helps them escape, but Ballister and 'umorous Cockney sidekick Splivvers determine to loot the Sun God's sacred gold; Ballister murders both Athena and Henderson to still their dissent. Athena lives long enough to raise the alarm; the expedition flees with huge loss of life, Boy being recaptured and sentenced anew to death. Tarzan springs to the rescue, rushing surviving trekkers Ballister and Anders into a mudpit – where they drown – returning the stolen gold and persuading the Queen of Palmyria to free Boy.
The Amazon-style society [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] is quite well depicted, but Tarzan and the Amazons focuses more on action and mayhem. Nevertheless, in the context of 20 and 22, it is not as poor a movie as it might have been, and established a trend in Tarzan movies where the plot hangs on an encounter with a weird Lost Race. [JGr]
22. Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946) US film. RKO. Produced by Sol Lesser. Directed by Kurt Neumann. Written by Carroll Young. Cast includes Acquanetta (Lea), Edgar Barrier (Dr Amir Lazar), Anthony Caruso (Mongo), Tommy Cook (Kimba), Dennis Hoey (District Commissioner), Brenda Joyce (Jane), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 72 minutes. Black and white.
The area around the town of Zambesi is plagued by adherents of a leopard cult, whose High Priestess is the beautiful Lea. The British administrators – unaware that educated half-caste Dr Lazar is Lea's lover and a prime mover in the virulently anti-British cult – believe the killings are the work of real leopards, but Tarzan knows better. Lea's psychotic little brother Kimba vows to cut out a human heart as proof he is a warrior; insinuating himself into the Tarzan family, he picks Jane as softest target. When a jungle convoy escorting a quartet of newly trained missionary teachers is massacred by the cult and Boy lands himself in danger, Tarzan uses jungle cunning to save goodies and kill baddies. But he, Jane and Boy are captured by the cult. Luckily Cheeta frees them all and the Villains get a nasty comeuppance.
Weissmuller looks old, and possibly ill. Sheffield looks old, too: all semblance of the cute kid has gone. Contaminated by Cliché assumptions that Blacks-are-bad-or-at-the-very-least-untrustworthy, Tarzan and the Leopard Woman has few saving graces. [JGr]
23. Tarzan and the Huntress (1947) US film. RKO. Produced by Sol Lesser. Directed by Kurt Neumann. Written by Jerry Gruskin, Rowland Leigh. Cast includes Ted Hecht (Ozira), Brenda Joyce (Jane), Barton MacLane (Paul Weir), Patricia Morison (Tanya Rawlins), Wallace Scott (Smitty), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Charles Trowbridge (Farrod), John Warburton (Karl Marley), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan). 72 minutes. Black and white.
The huntress is Rawlins, who comes with Marley to collect live animal specimens for Western zoos; their local contact is corrupt trapper Weir (played by MacLane, a villain as recently as 21). King Farrod permits exportation of only one pair of each species; his ambitious nephew Ozira, an eye on the throne, is more tractable. Farrod is assassinated, but Tarzan manages in the end to save the animals: Marley, Weir and Ozira all meet ghastly ends; Rawlins, who has behaved reasonably correctly, is permitted to escape; the rightful heir ascends to Farrod's throne; the movie feels like one that lies towards the end of a series – which indeed it did, since Sheffield thankfully made this his swansong and Weissmuller would have just one more outing. [JGr]
24. Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948) US film. RKO. Produced by Sol Lesser. Associate producer Joe Noriega. Directed by Robert Florey. Written by Carroll Young. Cast includes Linda Christian (Mara), Brenda Joyce (Jane), John Laurenz (Benji), Andrea Palma (Luana), Gustavo Rojo (Tiko), Fernando Wagner (Varga), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), George Zucco (Palanth). 68 minutes. Black and white.
Earlier (19-20) O'Sullivan's departure was "explained": she was in England fulfilling various obligations; now the departure of Sheffield was similarly "explained". Another change was that long-time Tarzan musical sound-track composer Paul Sawtell was replaced by Dimitri Tiomkin (although the style is unaltered). Perhaps the biggest change of all was the disappearance of Kurt Neumann, who had been either associate producer or director, usually both, of the last four Tarzan movies (he reappeared for 29). Indeed, even though veteran scripter Young was still at work, Tarzan and the Mermaids has a different feel from its predecessors, beginning with a tourist-advertisement-like introduction to the Lost World of the Aquaticans, denizens of the area where Tarzan's river debouches into the sea; they worship the "living" God Baloo (see Gods and Demons), whom the virgin Mara is doomed to wed. She knows the "god" is a fake – being in fact the Germanic pearl thief Varga, who is in cahoots with High Priest Palanth – and anyway she loves Tiko, who has fled to the outside world. On the verge of the ritual marriage she too flees, only be snared in one of Tarzan's fishing-nets. She is welcomed by the Tarzan family, but a passel of Aquatican males comes to retrieve her. Tarzan pursues; Jane is threatened; Varga is cast to his death from a high cliff; wrongs are righted.
Christian, though not a good actor, had the smoulder – which Joyce lacked – to have made a good Jane; it was not to be. An embarrassing newcomer was calypso-singing Benji, a family friend of and errand-runner for the Tarzans. Despite a great deal of dross, there is some splendid stuff in the film – e g, the camerawork and set design involved as Tarzan swims through the river's last subterranean stretches to the sea. It was fitting that Weissmuller's last Tarzan movie should be, at least visually, one of the best. [JGr]
25. Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Lee Sholem. Written by Harry Chandlee, Curt Siodmak. Cast includes Evelyn Ankers (Gloria James), Lex Barker (Tarzan), Albert Dekker (Trask), Charles Drake (Dodd), Brenda Joyce (Jane), Henry Kulky (Vredak), Elmo Lincoln (bit part), Alan Napier (Douglas Jessup). Voice actor Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan's war cry; this was used in many further Tarzan movies). 74 minutes. Black and white.
Gloria James, who crashed her plane in Africa twenty years ago, is not dead, as universally assumed, but has found refuge among the white Lost Race who dwell in the secret Blue Valley, succoured by a Fountain of Youth (see Rejuvenation). Later, after restoration to the modern world, she returns to Africa with husband Jessup, both hoping to drink the fountain's waters and regain their youth; they bring with them crooked locals Trask and Dodd, who plan to steal the Immortality-conferring water for sale. After much adventuring, James and Jessup are accepted in the Blue Valley, whose secret is preserved; Trask and Dodd fall foul of Blue Valley warriors.
Barker played the part so much as Weissmuller had done that often one has to blink to realize it is a different man. [JGr]
26. Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Lee Sholem. Written by Arnold Belgard, Hans Jacoby. Cast includes Robert Alda (Neil), Lex Barker (Tarzan), Vanessa Brown (Jane), Tony Caruso (Sengo), Denise Darcel (Lola), Hurd Hatfield (Prince), Mary Ellen Kay (Moana), Arthur Shields (Dr Campbell), Robert Warwick (High Priest). 74 minutes. Black and white.
In a typical example of cod Eugenics, Sengo and henchmen are abducting beautiful women from the jungle to improve the breeding stock of their plague-ridden lost city, Lyolia – whose civilization shares characteristics of Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt, with citizens generally clad in Sherwood Forest garb. Among the abductees are Jane and Dr Campbell's nurse Lola. With Campbell (who has a serum for the plague) and Lola's boyfriend Neil, Tarzan pursues, arriving to find that vile Sengo has had the two spirited girls immured for showing resistance. Needless to say, all is sorted. Barker is very good in this movie, as is Darcel; Brown is a pretty but witless Jane. [JGr]
27. Tarzan's Peril (1951; vt Tarzan and the Jungle Queen) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Byron Haskin. Written by John Cousins, Samuel Newman, Francis Swann. Cast includes Edward Ashley (Connors), Lex Barker (Tarzan), Dorothy Dandridge (Melmendi), Douglas Fowley (Herbert Trask), Virginia Huston (Jane), George Macready (Radijeck), Alan Napier (Peters), Frederick O'Neal (Bulam). 79 minutes. Black and white.
Departing British Commissioner Peters and his replacement, Connors, witness the coronation of Queen Melmendi of the peaceful Ashuba and her indignant refusal to marry King Bulam of the warlike Yorango. Later the commissioners are shot dead by Radijeck, head of a trio of gunrunners including also Andrews and Trask. The baddies sell guns to Bulam, whose people attack the Ashuba, again demanding Melmendi as Bulam's bride, but now more forcefully. Tarzan, after rescuing both himself and a baby elephant, saves Melmendi and kills Bulam. Radijeck, having murdered Trask, tries to hold Jane as ransom for his life, but is killed by Tarzan. The first ten minutes or so of this movie, filled with African drumming and dancing, are electric. Thereafter it becomes standard. [JGr]
28. Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Cyril Endfield. Written by Cyril Hume, Hans Jacoby, Shirley White. Cast includes Lex Barker (Tarzan), Tommy Carlton (Joey [Joseph Martin]), Dorothy Hart (Jane), Patric Knowles (Edwards), Charles Korvin (Rokoff). 80 minutes. Black and white.
Trekking in search of Tarzan and the fabled diamonds of the Wazuri, Tarzan's cousin Sir Oliver Greystoke is murdered by guide (and amateur magician) Rokoff, who then forces sidekick Edwards to assume Greystoke's identity to fool the jungle man. Meantime Tarzan has saved the life of and adopted the orphan Joey. Tarzan is suspicious of Rokoff and Edwards, but Jane is taken in and persuades Tarzan to help them. After a struggle with cannibals the major characters reach Wazuri territory, where the treachery is uncovered and Jane's life seems forfeit. Rokoff kills Edwards and almost kills Tarzan, who at the last moment saves Jane and restores good relations with the Wazuri. Barker does his best amid a plethora of rerun footage from earlier movies. Hart was one of the best Janes – very reminiscent of O'Sullivan – but this was her only appearance. [JGr]
29. Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Kurt Neumann. Written by Karl Kamb, Carroll Young. Cast includes Lex Barker (Tarzan), Henry Brandon (M'Tara), Raymond Burr (Vargo), Tom Conway (Fidel), Michael Grainger (Philippe Lavar), Joyce MacKenzie (Jane), Monique Van Vooren (Lyra). 76 minutes. Black and white.
Barker's swansong as Tarzan and MacKenzie's sole appearance as Jane feature in a somewhat perfunctory effort, with much of the footage – notably the elephant sequences – being recycled from the Jungle Movie Wild Cargo (1934). Ivory hunters Vargo and Lavar decide to swindle their equally vile partners, Lyra (the "She-Devil" of the title) and Fidel, of a huge haul. The quartet enslave the men of the Lykopo tribe as bearers, but Tarzan frees them. Next they attempt to seize Jane as hostage so that Tarzan will call the elephants their way, but believe they have accidentally killed her. Thinking Jane dead, Tarzan loses interest in life, but on discovering her alive, he calls the elephants with a vengeance, so that all the baddies except Lyra (accidentally shot by Fidel) are trampled to death in the ensuing stampede. [JGr]
30. Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955) US film. Sol Lesser/RKO. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Harold Schuster. Written by William Lively. Cast includes Jack Elam (Burger), Charles Fredericks (De Groot), Ike Jones (Malenki), Vera Miles (Jill Hardy), Richard Reeves (Reeves), Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Peter Van Eyck (Dr Celliers). 73 minutes. Black and white.
The first of the Gordon Scott Tarzan films, the last distributed by RKO and the last filmed in b/w (except the made-for-tv 33), is standard stuff, including lots of rerun wildlife footage from earlier Lesser Tarzan films. A big-game safari wanders into Tarzan's area, then one of them, Reeves, strays into the territory of the Sukula tribe, where he is thrown into a lion pit for having breached the Taboo against killing animals. Led by De Groot and Burger, the hunters aim to use UN Dr Celliers as a shield to penetrate Sukula territory and round up the animals for massacre; but Celliers and his nurse, Hardy, have already been befriended by Tarzan, who thwarts the plot. This movie seems to belong to the previous decade.
Miles was wasted on a Tarzan movie but not on Tarzan: she and Scott married soon after. [JGr]
31. Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957) US film. Solar. Produced by John Croydon. Directed by Bruce Humberstone. Special effects G Blackwell, T Howard. Written by Lillie Hayward, Montgomery Pittmann. Cast includes Peter Arne (Dick Penrod), Robert Beatty (Tusker Hawkins), George Coulouris (Carl Kraski), Yolande Donlan (Gamage Dean), Orlando Martins (Ogonooro), Betta St John (Diana Penrod), Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Wilfrid Hyde White (Doodles Fletcher). 84 minutes. Colour.
The first Tarzan movie in colour. A plane containing rich adventurer Dick Penrod, his rebellious wife Diana, Dean, Fletcher and Kraski crashlands in the jungle territory of the Opar tribe, who "always try to take whites for sacrifice". Diana is almost immediately seized. Big-game hunter Hawkins, in league with the Opar – whose centuries-old ivory stockpile he covets – pretends to save her: his scheme is to deliver the other whites to the Opar but keep Diana for his lecherous self. Tarzan and Hawkins agree to take the party on foot to safety but, midway, Hawkins lets the Opar have them. Plenty of vile darkies are killed before Tarzan and Cheta (here so spelt) save the day. Some of the wildlife photography is fabulous, but too much of the movie was shot in the studio – there are incongruous echoes in several jungle episodes – and we have been here too often before: the novelty of colour is squandered on over-familiar scenes. [JGr]
32. Tarzan's Fight for Life (1958) US film. Sol Lesser/MGM. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Bruce Humberstone. Written by Thomas Hal Phillips. Cast includes Eve Brent (Jane), James Edwards (Futa), Jill Jarmyn (Anne Sturdy), Henry Lauter (Dr Warwick), Carl Benton Reid (Dr Sturdy), Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Rickie Sorensen (Tantu), Woody Strode (Ramo). 86 minutes. Colour.
For the first time Scott is given a Jane, in the form of Brent; she features also in 33. The plot involves a war of intellect between a malicious witch-doctor, Futa, and three genuine (that is, white) doctors trying to run a jungle hospital: Warwick, Sturdy and Sturdy's daughter Anne. The argument seems to have been won when Sturdy performs a successful appendectomy on Jane, but Futa has further tricks up his sleeve, though in the end he dies horribly after drinking what he believes to be a cure-all but in fact is a deadly poison. It is a movie that would somehow be better if it were worse – as it is, all it achieves is dullness. [JGr]
33. Tarzan and the Trappers (1958) US made-for-tv film. Sol Lesser. Produced by Lesser. Directed by Charles Haas, Sandy Howard. Written by Robert Leach, Frederick Schlick. Cast includes Lesley Bradley (Schroeder), Eve Brent (Jane), Sherman Crothers (Chief Tyana), Saul Gorse (Sikes), William Keene (Lapin), Maurice Marsac (René), Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Rickie Sorensen (Tantu). 74 minutes. Black and white.
Eventually released theatrically, this was cobbled together from three pilot episodes produced for a tv series that never was. The story is therefore fitful, but involves Tarzan thwarting ruthless Schroeder and sidekick René – come to trap big game – and then Scroeder's brother Sikes, bent on revenge, and local trader Lapin, planning to steal the wealth of the lost city of Zarbo. Brent is adequate as Jane; Sorensen, as her and Tarzan's son Tantu, is fairly nauseating. There is considerable rerun wildlife footage from 30 (by Miki Carter) and elsewhere. This is the shoddiest of the Tarzan films in terms of production; otherwise it is well up to the standard of some of Lesser's others. [JGr]
34. Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959) US film. Sy Weintraub/Paramount. Produced by Weintraub. Directed by John Guillermin. Written by Berne Giler, Guillermin. Cast includes Sean Connery (O'Bannion), Scilla Gabel (Toni), Niall MacGinnis (Kriger), Al Mulock (Dino), Anthony Quayle (Slade), Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Sara Shane (Angie). 90 minutes. Colour.
Regarded by fans as one of the best, if not the best, Tarzan movies, this succeeds because of a good script, good direction and, most especially, the pitting of Tarzan against a major Villain (played by Anthony Quayle) as opposed to some of the caricatures he had confronted in earlier movies. This was Weintraub's first venture with the character – Lesser had finally given up – and the difference shows.
Tarzan and the murderous Slade are old enemies. Slade – plus criminal colleagues Dino, Kriger and O'Bannion and good-time girl Toni, carnally linked with Slade – plan to gut a diamond mine, and to this end murder a doctor and his staff in order to steal their dynamite. Tarzan and gutsy pilot Angie pursue the murderers, who proceed to murder each other with a view to increasing their share of the spoils. Last to go is of course Slade, whom Tarzan despatches himself. This movie is famous also for the sex-scene-that-never-was: featured in the posters, the entanglement of Tarzan with Angie was cut from the final edit. [JGr]
35. Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959) US film. MGM. Produced by Al Zimbalist. Directed by Joseph Newman. Visual effects Robert R Hoag, Lee LeBlanc. Written by Robert Hill. Based on 9. Cast includes Joanna Barnes (Jane), Cesare Danova (Harry Holt), Robert Douglas (Professor Parker), Denny Miller (Tarzan), Thomas Yangha (Riano). 82 minutes. Colour.
A dire remake of 9, using much of the same footage (tinted to give, supposedly, the effect of having been shot in colour) plus, to add interest, the famous Rubber Crocodile scene from 11. Miller and Barnes tried to breathe life into their roles, but were scuppered by poor script and direction and by the decision of MGM to make this movie as cheaply as possible. [JGr]
36. Tarzan the Magnificent (1960; vt Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan the Magnificent) US film. Sy Weintraub/Harvey Hayutin/Paramount. Produced by Weintraub. Directed by Robert Day. Written by Day, Berne Giler. Cast includes Earl Cameron (Tate), John Carradine (Abel Banton), Gary Cockrell (Johnny Banton), Lionel Jeffries (Ames), Ron MacDonnell (Ethan Banton), Jock Mahoney (Coy Banton), Betta St John (Fay Ames), Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Alexandra Stewart (Laurie), John Sullivan (Inspector Winters), Charles Tingwell (Dr Conway). 88 minutes. Colour.
The story is a transplanted Western. Tarzan captures Coy Banton – one of a murderous family band of robbers headed by Abel Banton – and proposes to take him to Kairobi and justice. In their first attempt to recover Coy, the Bantons strand a party of whites (Ames and wife Fay, Conway and girlfriend Laurie) up-country; with the help of Tate, a Black, Tarzan treks with this party and Coy through rough country to Kairobi. Fay Ames takes a fancy to Coy, and several times betrays the party to the pursuing Bantons. By the time Kairobi is reached and Coy handed over for hanging, she and the remaining Bantons are dead. This is one of the most violent Tarzan films but hardly magnificent except for the wildlife photography and the scenes among the Kikuyu and Masai. It was Scott's last movie in the part. [JGr]
37. Tarzan Goes to India (1962; vt [dubbed in Hindustani] Tarzan Mera Sathi 1974) UK film. Sy Weintraub/MGM. Produced by Weintraub. Directed by John Guillermin. Special effects Roy Whybrow. Written by Robert Hardy Andrews, Guillermin. Cast includes Mark Dana (O'Hara), Leo Gordon (Bryce), Jai (Jai), Feroz Khan (Raju Kumar), Jock Mahoney (Tarzan), Murad (Maharaja), Simi (Kamara). 86 minutes. Colour.
His old friend, the dying Maharaja, begs Tarzan to come to India because ruthless engineer O'Hara is about to flood a valley in order to create a power station, an operation that will require the translocation of thousands of people and, if they cannot somehow be guided out of the valley, the drowning of a herd of 300 elephants. Tarzan performs the feat with the help of Jai the Elephant Boy, Princess Kamara and Raju Kumar, but not before seeing the death of murderous ivory hunter Bryce. With its charming stars and its Ecological message – the kind of message usually muffled to extinction in earlier Tarzan films – this could have been one of the all-time Tarzan greats; instead, for some reason, it ends up being just something of a muddle. [JGr]
38. Tarzan's Three Challenges (1963) US film. Sy Weintraub/MGM. Produced by Weintraub. Directed by Robert Day. Special effects Cliff Richardson, Roy Whybrow. Written by Day, Berne Giler. Cast includes Earl Cameron (Mang), Christopher Carlos (Sechung), Ricky Der (Kashi), Robert Hu (Nari), Tsu Kobayashi (Cho-San), Jock Mahoney (Tarzan), Woody Strode (Khan/Tarim). 92 minutes. Colour.
In an unnamed Oriental nation (the movie was shot in Thailand) the old ruler, Tarim, is dying. Tarzan is appointed to bring Tarim's successor, a young boy called Kashi, to the Crown City, where Kashi must undergo certain tests to show he is indeed the Chosen One – the Reincarnation of all the previous rulers. Tarim's brother Khan wishes to instal himself as ruler, to be succeeded by his son Nari, and sends assassins and spies to thwart Tarzan's expedition. All are fought off and Kashi passes the tests. Khan challenges the outcome, so Tarzan, on Kashi's behalf, ritually fights him to the death. This is a rather good movie, although Mahoney, as Tarzan, seems old and tired (he was apparently plagued by dysentery during filming). Strode is an impressively stylish villain. [JGr]
39. Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) US film. Sy Weintraub/American International. Produced by Weintraub. Directed by Robert Day. Special effects Ira Anderson, Ira Anderson Jr. Written by Clair Huffaker. Cast includes Mike Henry (Tarzan), Nancy Kovack (Sophia), Don Megowan (Mr Train), David Opatoshu (Vinero), Manuel Padilla Jr (Ramel), Francisco Riquerio (Manco). 90 minutes. Colour.
A curious mixture – as were all the Mike Henry Tarzan films – of James Bond and the jungle. Tarzan is summoned by an old friend to South America: a surviving Incan civilization (see Lost Race), somewhere in the Andes, has lost the secret of its location to the international criminal Vinero, and it would be good if Tarzan could head off Vinero's men as they attempt to plunder the treasures of the entirely pacifistic Incans. Assisted by the leopard Bianco, the lion Major, the chimp Dinky and the small Incan boy Ramel – plus, in the later stages, Vinero's discarded mistress Sophia – he does exactly this. Vinero literally drowns in gold-dust; Tarzan barehandedly kills the villain's sadistic bodyguard Mr Train. Manco, the ruling Inca, accepts that sometimes a little violence is necessary if peace is to be retained. Tarzan and Sophia blast the tunnel leading to the Incan haven, so that with luck it will be centuries before it is rediscovered. While quite enjoyable, this movie seems much longer than its 90 minutes; it was novelized by Fritz Leiber as Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966). [JGr]
40. Tarzan and the Great River (1967) US film. Paramount. Produced by Sy Weintraub. Directed by Robert Day. Special effects Ira Anderson. Written by Bob Barbash. Cast includes Paulo Grazindo (Professor), Mike Henry (Tarzan), Rafer Johnson (Barcuna), Diana Millay (Ann Phillips), Jan Murray (Sam Bishop), Manuel Padilla Jr (Pepe). 88 minutes. Colour.
An above-par offering. Barcuna is cutting a swathe through the Amazon Basin with his revival of the enslaving Jaguar Cult. Tarzan some while ago gave his animal friends to a Zoo there, and is now summoned by its curator, the Professor, to tackle Barcuna. Almost at once the Professor is murdered by cultists; Tarzan doffs his civilized clothing to enter the jungle with Cheeta and friendly lion Baron. En route he encounters riverboatman Bishop and his "first mate", cute boy Pepe, who cheerfully reprise – especially after being joined by medical missionary Phillips – The African Queen (1951). The Amazon is full of hippos and flamingoes, and Baron meets another lion in the South American jungle; but these howlers hardly matter – the fact that Dinky, the chimp playing Cheeta, was killed mid-movie for having attacked Henry seems to matter a lot more.
Doc Savage, Man of Bronze (1975) owes quite a lot to this film. [JGr]
41. Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968) US film. Sy Weintraub/Paramount. Produced by Robert Day. Directed by Robert Gordon. Special effects Gabriel Queiroz. Written by Steven Lord. Cast includes Steve Bond (Jukaro), Ronald Gans (Ken Matson), Alizia Gur (Myrna Claudel), Mike Henry (Tarzan), Edward Johnson (Buhara), Rafer Johnson (Nagambi). 90 minutes. Colour.
Six years ago geologist Karl Brunik drowned in Africa, but his infant son Erik survived – much as Tarzan did years before – to become Jukaro the Jungle Boy, dwelling in the depths of Zegunda country. Journalists Claudel and Matson now fly in, a low-flying aerial photographer having caught a snap of Jukaro. Tarzan agrees to try to rescue the lad to civilization, a first difficulty being that the Zegunda law is that any non-Zegunda found on their territory is killed, a second being that Tarzan has earned the enmity of Nagambi, usurper king of Zegunda, and a third being that Claudel decides to follow him, with Matson, into Zegunda country. In the end Nagambi is killed by his usurped brother Buharu, who thus recovers his throne; Jukaro decides, on Tarzan's advice, to return with Claudel to civilization. This is an entertaining exploit. [JGr]
42. Tarzan's Deadly Silence (1970) US made-for-tv film released theatrically. Sy Weintraub/National General. Produced by Leon Benson. Directed by Lawrence Dobkin, Robert L Friend. Special effects Laurencio Cordero. Written by John Considine, Tim Considine, Lee Irwin, Jack A Robinson. Cast includes Gregorio Acosta (Chico), Ron Ely (Tarzan), Jock Mahoney (Colonel), Nichelle Nichols (Ruana), Manuel Padilla Jr (Jai), Woody Strode (Marshak). 88 minutes. Colour.
Cobbled together from a two-parter in the tv series, this sees Tarzan defeat a neo-Nazi-style bully, The Colonel, who wants to set up a dictatorship in the jungle. Old faces reappeared in what was not a bad outing: Strode had been a villain in 32 and 38; Mahoney had been a villain in 36, then Tarzan in 37 and 38; Padilla had starred as Tarzan's little-boy friend in 39 and 40. There is a degree of sadism that might be excised from a modern tv version, as when The Colonel gratuitously whips a man to death. [JGr]
43. Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion (1970) US made-for-tv film released theatrically. Sy Weintraub/National General. Produced by Leon Benson. Directed by William Whitney. Special effects Laurencio Cordero. Written by Jackson Gillis. Cast includes Ron Ely (Tarzan), Jason Evers (Ramon), Sam Jaffe (Dr Singleton), Harry Lauter (Miller), William Marshall (Colonel Tatakombi), Manuel Padilla Jr (Jai), Ulla Stromstedt (Mary Singleton). 92 minutes. Colour.
Like 42, this was cobbled together from a two-part adventure in the tv series. The Singletons come to Africa in search (for academic purposes) of The Blue Stone of Heaven, and Tarzan agrees to help them find it. Tatakombi – a fascist – gets there first, and tries to use the jewel to persuade the various tribes of the jungle to fall in under his dictatorship. Tarzan violently stops such plans in their tracks. [JGr]
44. Jungle Burger (1975; vt La Honte de la Jungle; vt Shame of the Jungle; vt Tarzoon la Honte de la Jungle; vt Tarzoon the Shame of the Jungle) Belgian-French animated film. SND Valisa/Picha. Produced by Boris Szulzinger. Directed by Picha, Szulzinger. Written by Picha, Pierre Bartier; US screenplay Anne Beatts, Michael O'Donoghue. Voice actors John Belushi, Brian Doyle-Murray, Andrew Duncan, Christopher Guest, Bill Murray, Bob Perry, Emily Prager, Johnny Weissmuller Jr (Shame) (none but Weissmuller individually credited). 72 minutes. Colour.
Extremely scatological and surprisingly clumsy – although energetically animated – Parody of the Tarzan-movie oeuvre; the English-language version, for copyright reasons, is less overt about its origins. From her subterranean "Spaceship", deep within what is either a cavern or the rectum of a recumbent giantess, many-breasted Queen Bazunga seeks world conquest, but first must hide her baldness by stealing someone's scalp. A detachment of her army – Cloned mobile phalluses firing explosive semen – seize June, mate of Shame, wimpish lord of the jungle. Shame rescues the nymphomaniacal June just before her scalp is cut off. In a minor subplot, a stereotyped Tarzan-movie safari arrives in the jungle from the West; three are devoured and the fourth finally becomes – as replacement for the destroyed Bazunga – a megalomaniac jungle queen set on world conquest. There is some flirtation with racism, and women seem regarded as mere fuck-objects. [JGr]
45. Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981) US film. MGM/Svengali. Produced by Bo Derek. Directed by John Derek. Written by Gary Goddard, Tom Rowe. Based on 9. Cast includes Bo Derek (Jane Parker), Richard Harris (James Parker), John Phillip Law (Harry Holt), Miles O'Keeffe (Tarzan), Maxime Philoe (Riano), Akushula Selayah (Nambia/Africa). 112 minutes. Colour.
Orphaned adventuress Jane comes to Africa to find her father, batty Irish explorer Parker. He is mounting a trek to the fabled Elephants' Graveyard, and she goes too. On the Mutia Escarpment they discover the equally fabled Great Inland Sea; more to the point, they hear the night-time cries of legendary Tarzan, reputedly a 100ft-tall half-man half-ape. To this point Tarzan, the Ape Man promises much. But then the archetypal Derek skinflick starts. Jane doffs all for a swim in the sea, is threatened by a lion that seems confused to find itself by the seaside, and is rescued by Tarzan. He crudely expresses amour, and is in turn driven off by Parker and expedition photographer Holt. Parker's mistress Africa is seized by hostile natives; Parker assumes Tarzan's guilt, and vows revenge. Tarzan abducts Jane; abandons her; saves her from a boa; is almost killed in the process; is nursed back to health by an elephant, chimps, an orang-utan and Jane; and has long but unconsummated byplay with the latter. The whites are all captured by natives and prepared for human sacrifice, which involves much manipulation of a naked Jane; Parker is slain by the monstrous tribal chief. But Tarzan, informed by Cheeta, comes to the rescue with a herd of elephants, kills the chief, and rescues Holt and Jane, before going off into the jungle with the latter for a life of unbridled Pastoral passion.
This is widely regarded as the direst of the Tarzan movies, but it has enough good bits (including some spectacular photography and moments of exquisite wrongness) that, if cut by about 40 minutes, it would be highly regarded. As it is, it leaves a nasty taste: its intention seems to be to appeal to those who find eroticism in the sexual humiliation of women. [JGr]
46. Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) UK film. Warner/WEA. Produced by Stanley S Canter, Hugh Hudson. Directed by Hudson. Visual effects Albert J Whitlock. Make-up effects Rick Baker. Primate choreography Peter Elliot. Primate consultant Roger Fouts. Written by Michael Austin, P H Vazak (Robert Towne). Based on Tarzan of the Apes (1914) by Burroughs. Cast includes John Alexander (White Eyes), Alisa Berk (Kala), Cheryl Campbell (Lady Alice Clayton), Elliot Cane (Silverbeard), James Fox (Lord Esker), Paul Geoffrey (Lord Jack Clayton), Ian Holm (Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot), Christopher Lambert (John Clayton, Tarzan), Eric Langlois (young Tarzan), Alison Macrae (young Jane), Andie MacDowell (Jane Porter), Daniel Potts (young Tarzan), Sir Ralph Richardson (6th Earl of Greystoke), John Wells (Sir Evelyn Blount). Voice actor Glenn Close (Jane Porter's voice). 130 minutes. Colour.
In 1885 Jack and Alice Clayton go from Scotland to Africa as missionaries, are shipwrecked and build a rude home in the jungle. She soon gives birth to a boy but dies of malaria; the boy's father is almost immediately killed by one of the local colony of great apes, another of whom, Kala – who has just lost her own baby – seizes the infant and becomes his adoptive mother (see Apes as Human). The boy is reared as an ape, being an especially revered one when he discovers his father's knife and learns how to use it. When he is twelve, pygmies kill Kala, and the boy retaliates by killing one of them. When he is full-grown, a UK zoological expedition arrives but, in response to their murderous ways, is massacred by the pygmies. One expedition member, D'Arnot, survives, and is nursed back to health by the boy, who meanwhile kills the vicious ape-leader White Eyes to become bull of the colony. D'Arnot discovers the Claytons' treehouse, realizes the mysterious white savage is John Clayton, heir to the Greystoke title, and persuades him to quest through the jungle to reach, eventually, Britain. There Tarzan/John is at once accepted by his grandfather, the sixth Earl of Greystoke, as the true heir, and meets Greystoke's American ward, the lovely Jane. D'Arnot leaves young John with Greystoke; John and Jane soon fall in love, despite Jane's foppish suitor Lord Esker. Greystoke is killed in a domestic accident, and D'Arnot returns for the funeral. One day, at the British Museum, John discovers where the experimental apes are held and finds among them his adoptive father, Silverbeard, whom he releases; but a police marksman soon shoots Silverbeard, who dies in John's arms. This is the final straw for John so far as "civilization" is concerned: he returns to Africa and the beloved apes whose rightful leader he is.
Probably the most successful of the Cinema's attempts during the 1980s and 1990s to breathe new life into the popular fantasy Icons created during the earlier parts of the century, this movie had a tortuous history, being first written in the mid-1970s by Towne, who planned also to direct. For various reasons it was passed to Hudson, who had the screenplay substantially revised and then set out to create a masterpiece. Masterpiece this movie may not be, but it falls little short: there is an air of authenticity that transcends the star-studded cast, and the tale is genuinely involving; the photography is stunning, as are most of the key performances. The authenticity extends to the "choreography" of the apes and of John Clayton as a human reared among apes: this was derived not at random but from existing (and some fresh) studies of primate behaviour in the wild. In many ways Greystoke can be regarded as the first real Tarzan film. It encourages one to reassess upwards the worth of Burroughs's creation. [JGr]
47. Tarzan in Manhattan (1989) US made-for-tv film. American First Run. Produced by Charles Hairston. Directed by Michael Schultz. Written by William Gough, Anna Sandor. Cast includes Kim Crosby (Jane Porter), Tony Curtis (Archimedes Porter), Joe Lara (Tarzan), Joe Seneca (Joseph), Jimmy Medina Taggert (Juan Lipschitz), Jan Michael Vincent (Brightmore). 100 minutes. Colour.
This pilot for an unmade series is in effect a partial remake of 18. Tarzan comes to New York to avenge the killing of the ape Kala and recover a kidnapped Cheeta. After various standard enfant-sauvage miscomprehensions, he is befriended by cabdriver Jane Porter and, grudgingly, her private-eye father Archimedes. Cheeta is traced to the Brightmore Foundation (see Zoo), which is secretly experimenting in Genetic Engineering using apes for (fatal) trials. Brightmore himself tries with his thugs to kill Tarzan, but Tarzan kills him. Jane and Archimedes persuade Tarzan and Cheeta to stay on a while in Manhattan. [JGr]
48. Tarzan and the Lost City (1998). Warner Bros presents a Dieter Geissler/Alta Vista production in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and Clipsal Film Partnership. Directed by Carl Schenkel. Written by Bayard Johnson and J Anderson Black. Cast includes Casper van Dien (John Clayton), Jane March (Jane Porter), Steve Waddington (Ravens), Winston Ntshona (Mugambe). 84 minutes. Colour.
On the eve of his wedding to Jane Porter in England, John Clayton is summoned back to Africa to thwart an expedition to plunder the hidden city of Opar.
Greystoke producer Stanley Canter was behind this belated sequel to 46 which could not, however, legally claim a direct connection, though it was described freely in production as "Greystoke 2". It follows its predecessor in attempting to respect Burroughs's conception of the character, though its mood is lighter and influenced, especially at the climax, by Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones films. March is an improvement on MacDowell as an appealing (and now English) Jane who follows Tarzan back to Africa, while van Dien, hot from Starship Troopers, at least puts on his big game face; but the budget is modest and Burroughs's great apes in particular woefully lack the meticulous primatological grounding of their predecessors. The one Tarzan film to be shot entirely in Africa, it has an attractive feel for light and landscape, though the South African locations are more veldt than jungle. Its makers could not know that theirs would be the last live-action film in a franchise that in its heyday had seemed immortal; attempts to reboot the character continue, most recently (2012) under Harry Potter director David Yates, but for the foreseeable future the character would languish in animated versions for the juvenile market. [NL]
49. Tarzan (1999) Animated film. Walt Disney Feature Animation (see The Walt Disney Company). Directed by Chris Buck and Kevin Lima. Written by Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker and Noni White, based on a story by Stephen Anderson, Mark D Kennedy, Carole Holliday, Gaëtan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, Don Dougherty, Ed Gombert, Randy Haycock, Don Hall, Kevin L Harkey, Glen Keane, Burny Mattinson, Frank Nissen, John Norton, Jeff Snow, Michael Surrey, Christopher J Ure, Mark Walton, Stevie Wermers, Kelly Wightman and John Ramirez. Cast includes Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Rosie O'Donnell, Glenn Close, Brian Blessed, Lance Henriksen, Wayne Knight and Nigel Hawthorne. 88 minutes. Colour.
The film starts in the least auspicious way imaginable: with a song from Phil Collins. Things do improve – not least with the appearance of Minnie Driver's Jane – but, after briefly dipping its toes into Robinsonade, Tarzan settles down to become a standard Disney Anthropological comedy Fantasy. Its only connection to sf is tangential; embarrassingly, it provides the inspiration for the worst scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). [ML]
50. Tarzan & Jane (2002) Animated direct-to-video film. Walt Disney Feature Animation (see The Walt Disney Company). Directed by Victor Cook, Steve Loter, Don MacKinnon and Lisa Schaffer. Written by Bill Motz & Bob Roth, Mirith Colao, John Behnke, Rob Humphrey, Jim Peterson and Jess Winfield. Cast includes Michael T Weiss, Olivia d'Abo, Jeff Bennett, Jim Cummings, Grey DeLisle, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tara Strong, April Winchell, Nicollette Sheridan. 75 minutes. Colour.
Unnecessary Fixup of unused episodes from the animated Television series The Legend of Tarzan (2001-2003) spun off from the 1999 film (hence the proliferation of directors and writers). The production values take a nosedive which is particularly noticeable in comparison to the original's highly impressive animation. [ML]
51. Tarzan II (2005) Animated direct-to-video film. Walt Disney Feature Animation (see The Walt Disney Company). Directed by Brian Smith. Written by Jim Kammerud & Smith and Bob Tzudiker & Noni White. Cast includes Harrison Chad, Brenda Grate, Harrison Fahn, George Carlin, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, Estelle Harris, Glenn Close, Tiffany Evans and Connor Hutcherson. 74 minutes. Colour.
A prequel to the main events of the 1999 film (48 above) which sees the return of the original writers and a commensurate upturn in quality. It is a coming-of-age drama in which Tarzan must struggle to find his own identity as the only human on his island. The film hints that he is also set apart by his Intelligence but this is somewhat blurred given that the gorillas talk and behave like humans (see Apes as Human). [ML]
52. Animated film (2013). Constantin Film in association with Ambient Entertainment. Directed by Reinhard Klooss. Cast includes Kellan Lutz, Spencer Locke, Trevor St John, Les Bubb, Anton Zetterholm, Peter Elliott. 94 minutes. Colour, 3D.
The search for a meteoritic Power Source in Africa by New York-based Greystoke Energies leads to boardroom intrigue and tragedy with the deaths of Greystoke and wife in a helicopter crash survived by their son, who is raised by mountain gorillas and names himself Tarzan, until the arrival of conservationist's daughter Jane Porter and the villainous new Greystoke CEO Clayton force him to confront his origins and destiny in defence of his adoptive home.
This thinly scripted but impressively performed German animation brings the new resources of performance capture and animated 3D to bear on the human and ape characters, with old and new performance technologies bridged in the supervision of ape choreography by Greystoke's key suit-performer Elliott. In an overenthusiastic update, the Greystokes are now American energy barons rather than British aristocrats; the name Clayton has been transferred to the antagonist; and "Tarzan" is a small boy's made-up "ape language". The vine-swinging action is ideally suited to 3D, and the ape and man-ape performances, the latter shared between voice actor Lutz and a motion-capture double, showcase the virtues of the new technology to excellent effect, though both had by this point been preempted and surpassed in live action by The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). Nevertheless, with Warners' live-action reboot confirmed for 2016, the film indicated ways in which Burroughs' material offered a peculiarly apt fit for new film-making technologies. [NL]
53. Others There has been a plethora of non-English-language Tarzan movies, most of them rarely seen in the West. They include:
- Toofani Tarzan (1937) Indian film.
- Tarzan ki Beta (1938) Indian film.
- The Adventures of Chinese Tarzan (1939-40) Singaporean 3-part film.
- Toto Tarzan (1950) Italian film.
- Thozhan (1959) Indian film.
- Toofani Tarzan (1962) Indian film.
- Tarzan aur Gorilla (1963) Indian film.
- Rocket Tarzan (1963) Indian film.
- Tarzan aur Jadugar (1963) Indian film.
- Tarzan and Captain Kishore (1964) Indian film.
- Tarzan and Delilah (1964) Indian film.
- Tarzan aur Jalpari (1964) Indian film.
- Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1964) West German film.
- Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1964) Jamaican film.
- Tarzan and King Kong (1965) Indian film.
- Tarzan Comes to Delhi (1965) Indian film.
- Tarzan and the Circus (1965) Indian film.
- Tarzak Against the Leopardmen (1965) Italian film.
- Tarzan and Hercules (1966) Indian film.
- Tarzan ki Mehbooba (1966) Indian film.
- Tarzan aur Jadui Chirag (1966) Indian film.
- Tarzans Kampf mit dem Gorilla (1968) West German short film.
- Tarzan in Fairy Land (1968) Indian film.
- Tarzan .303 (1970) Indian film.
- Tarzan of Bengal (1976) Bangladeshi film.
- Jane Is Jane Forever (1978) West German film.
- La Infancia de Tarzan (1979) Spanish film.
- Tarzan Andy (1980) Italian film.
- Jungla proibita (la leggenda sex di Tarzan) (1995) Italian film; hardcore pornography rather than parody.
- Dard'zan: The Humiliation of Jane vt of the above.
- Jungle Heat vt of the above.
- The Shame of Jane vt of the above.
Legal action by the Burroughs estate changed the titles of what were originally:
- Tazanova Smrt (1962) Czechoslovakian film.
- The Death of Tarzan (1968 US) Czechoslovakian film; vt of the above
- Tarzan Chez les Coupeurs de Tête (1963) Italian film.
- Tarzan Roi de la Force Brutale (1963) Italian film.
- Tarzan des Mers (1963) USSR film.
Parodies aside from 44 have included:
- Nature in the Wrong (1932) US film.
- Tarzan and Jane Regained Sort of ... (1964) US film.
- Tarzan and Boy (circa 1965) US film.
- Tarzan and Jane and Boy and Cheeta US film; apparent vt of the above
- Tarzan the Swinger (1970) US film.
- David Fury. Kings of the Jungle: An Illustrated Reference to "Tarzan" on Screen and Television (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1994) [nonfiction: has sterling and generally extremely accurate coverage of all except 44 and 48 above: hb/photographic]
- Scott Tracy Griffin. Tarzan on Film (London: Titan Books, 2016) [hb/photographic]
- Internet Movie Database – list of Tarzan films
- The Encyclopedia of Fantasy: Jungle Movies
- Picture Gallery
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