Sunday, 24 May 2009


Tarzans may come and Tarzans may go but for a whole generation Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller was Tarzan. We believed he was Tarzan (even when he got a bit paunchy) and more importantly he believed he was Tarzan. There may have been other good Tarzan's but for me and a lot like me, Weissmuller was - and still is - the main man, the daddy, the head honcho, numero uno. I recently purchased all twelve films in the MGM series and over the last few months have been dipping into them. The first three films - TARZAN THE APEMAN, TARZAN AND HIS MATE and TARZAN ESCAPES are the best. Despite the often badly matched animal footage, they move quickly and have lots of action and, furthermore, the relationship between Tarzan and Jane has a delightful purity and innocence (along with a genuine erotic charge)....highlighted by the wonderful nude swimming sequence (Jane is naked, not Tarzan) in the second film. Later films in the series which had Tarzan fighting nazis became very formalistic but in TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (sixth in the series) there is still a lot of invention on show. Tarzan's adopted son, Boy, played by Johnny Sheffield (who went on to get his own series as BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY) is kidnapped by dastardly animal trapper, Charles Bickford and flown to New York to perform with wild animals in a circus. Tarzan and Jane soon pack up their loin cloths and with the help of some gold nuggets, a friendly consul and a frustrated Chinese tailor, are soon catchin the clipper to the Big Apple. Of course, they take Cheetah the Chimp along for comedy relief although for once Tarzan himself gets a few laughs as he copes with "civilization" - I liked the scene where Tarzan steps in the shower with his suit on! There are some nice touches in that Bickford's original accomplices (played by Paul Kelly and Chill Wills) actually side with Tarzan and there are some interesting location shots of 1940's New York during Tarzans exciting escape from the authorites to be pursued across the rooftops. Virgina Grey turns up as Paul Kelly's girlfriend and there is a comedy cameo from (uncredited) Mantan Morland and even Elmo Lincoln (the screen's very first Tarzan) has a cameo as one of the circus roustabouts. Richard Thorpe keeps things moving admirably. Rating ***

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

Can you believe I've never seen any of the Tarzan movies either?!?!? Where have I been??? Saskatchewan?!?!? And this one even has Mantan in it!