Archive for the Maureen O’Sullivan Category
TARZAN AND HIS MATE
Tarzan and his Mate was the second Tarzan movie from MGM and it surpasses the original by far. It is considered by many Tarzan fans to the best Tarzan movie of all time, hands down. While Weissmuller still plays a simple minded Tarzan there can be no denying the sexual energy between him and Maureen O’ Sullivan. O’ Sullivan appears so scantily clad it is exhilarating for any time in history, much less 1934 The DVD the deleted nude under footage of Jane swimming with Tarzan. It is not, unfortunately, really Maureen O’Sullivan. She does flash her breasts as she emerges from the water and the nude silhouette undressing in a tent scene. Her costume was so skimpy and revealing it prompted the creation of the Hayes Office, a censorship committee that soon had influence over the entire industry.
The jungle scenes are more elaborate and the action is directed better by the more visionary Cedric Gibbons (though an uncredited Jack Conway is also given credit for completing much of the film) though there were conflicts and in early films two other directors were listed at different times. Some people claim that James McKay actually directed the bulk of the film but on the new DVD version Gibbons is the credited director. It was his first directing job, as he was MGM’s brilliant art director prior to this film. To be honest, along with the blatant sexuality of the film there is a rather strong violent aspect to the movie as well and the next two movies were toned down in both areas considerably. There was not much being done in 1934 that was like this one. The bad bawana is played creepily by Paul Cavanagh. He is looks down on the savage Tarzan as no more than a real ape and spies on Jane as she undresses in her tent. The action involves a return to Africa by good bawana (although in the 1st film I did not think he was so good really) Harry Holt, played again by Neil Hamilton. The “natives” are stereotyped to the point of uncomfortable comedy and makes for many unintentional laughs. Most definitely a great movie with lots of history behind it. Check it out if you like ape men and jungle girls, and who the heck doesn’t?
NOTE: This post and my post for Tarzan the Apeman were salvaged from old drafts and most of the finished text was lost. These Tarzan posts were not the only casualties and I am not sure what happened except that many Word Docs I had saved were simply blank. Expect rewrites and original screen captures for both posts at some time in the future. For now please make due with the two posts I have put up here and a choice selection of images from the net.
I recently picked up all the Tarzan movies on DVD here in Beijing and have watched them all a couple times except for Tarzan’s New York Adventure which I never really liked even as a kid, but one night I will pop it in and give it a go. Tarzan the Ape Man was the 1st of the Tarzan films from MGM and Johnny Weissmulller at the time was under contract with the BVD underwear company and MGM had to do some quick bargaining to allow BVD’s spokesman to appear clad only in a loincloth. The movie only generally follows the Edgar Rice Burroughs narrative of the adventures of Lord Greystoke who is the sole infant survivor of a plane crash in the African Jungle, near the fabled Mutia Escarpment. Rather this movie takes up with the arrival of Jane Parker, played perfectly by Maureen O’Sullivan, in Africa to assist her aging father in his duties there. A safari is soon set up to go to the escarpment in search of the elephant’s graveyard, a veritable Fort Knox of ivory. Tarzan comes in to the story gradually and the direction by W.S Van Dyke in some instances is pretty good, but in others pretty shoddy. For instance in the early scenes where the characters are talking about images that are obviously being back-projected as the proportion and contrast is utterly wrong.
Johnny Weismuller plays a great Tarzan, perhaps the greatest of them all -though I felt Gordon Scott did pretty darn good later as a more muscular and articulate Tarzan- in the first three films by MGM. This went not without protest from Burroughs who objected to the dumbing down of his character and the fact there were no plans for Lord Greystoke to be anything other than a monosyllabic Adonis. And Weissmuller does look great, as does Maureen O’Sullivan. It is a great little movie that caused a stir in its day. Some interesting things to look for are the trapezes Tarzan uses for vines and the men in ape costumes that resemble in some way the costumes that Stanley Kubrick used for the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We are also introduced the recurring “bad bawana” and “good bawana” characters. Some other cool tidbits is that in no film did Tarzan ever utter the oft quoted line: Me Tarzan. You Jane. Also, there is no such thing as an elephant’s graveyard despite the perpetually generated myth that there is. It was a concoction of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and last, the famous Tarzan yell is the voice of sound man Douglas Sheaer. It is normal call that is monkeyed with electronically then played backwards. In all these movies my favorite parts are usually the elaborate sets and backgrounds that look simply surreal in black and white.