Archive for the Tarzan Category

THE URANIUM CAFE VIDEO CAPTURE COLLECTION: TARZAN AND HIS MATE

Posted in Adventure-Action, Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Tarzan, Video Captures on October 14, 2011 by Bill Courtney
A new category here. I have thousands of screen captures I have made and figure I will share a few of them once in a while in a post that focuses on captures only. Minimal writing involved. many of the captures were made to accompany video files I have uploaded to bittorrent sites like Cinemageddon or The Horror Charnel. I make dozens and dozens of captures and may only use eight or ten for the file presentation. Meaning I have more left over than I know what to do with. Many posts here feature original screen captures, though not all. So I want to go back and supply some images to posts that did not get original video captures the first time around or just for a movie that needs one. the first film for this new category will be Tarzan and His Mate, given a less than hearty review here a few posts back. Expect a better review one day, but for now please enjoy some of these video captures from one of the best Tarzan films of all time.

TARZAN AND HIS MATE/1934/JOHNNY WEISSMULLER

Posted in Cedric Gibbons, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Johnny Weissmuller, Kings and Queens of the Jungle, Maureen O'Sullivan, Tarzan on October 5, 2011 by Bill Courtney

TARZAN AND HIS MATE

1934/Director: Cedric Gibbons / Screenplay: Edgar Rice Burroughs (books),Leon Gordon
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh, Forrester Harvey, Nathan Curry

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 realize that many of these images are not from Tarzan and His Mate and will eventually get up some original screen captures as I said above. The more “covered” Jane are from later Tarzan films while the ones where she is showing lots of curvy skin is from this film.

 
 

BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND/1949/JOHNNY SHEFFIELD

Posted in Adventure-Action, Bomba, Ford Beebe, Johnny Sheffield, Johnny Weissmuller, Kings and Queens of the Jungle, Lita Baron, Monogram Pictures, Tarzan on September 14, 2011 by Bill Courtney

BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND

949/Director: Ford Beebe/Writers: Ford Beebe, Roy Rockwood
Cast: Johnny Sheffield, Allene Roberts, Lita Baron, Charles Irwin, Harry Lewis
When it comes down to the end of the day and I am not sure what to pop into the DVD player there are few genres that I know will appeal to me like good old school jungle adventure. The only type of movie that comes close are sword and sandal/peplum films. I know they will be low budget and cheesy as hell but I also know I am going to get something out of the movie even after multiple viewings. This may be in part due the fact that I grew up on these movies as a kid on Saturday afternoon TV shows. I am sure I have seen all of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films a half a dozen times or more in life. Only recently I have I begun to seriously consider other actors –like Lex Barker and Gordon Scott- as viable Tarzans even, and I am just referring to films made before, lets say, 1970 only. After that jungle movies just lost their appeal to me. Some of this, I think, is due to the fact that later jungle films all become shot outside studios, on location so to say, though all the jungles began to look like somewhere in the US more than Africa by then. I loved the old studio jungle sets and matte paintings and even how stock footage was mixed into the shots. Only recently did I get the Jungle Jim series and have seen most of them and have begun posting them here. A little harder to track down are the Bomba the Jungle Boys films starring Boy from the Tarzan films himself, Johnny Sheffield. I do have three of the films finally; Bomba on Panther Island, The Lost Volcano and Bomba and the Lost city, numbers 2, 3 and 4 respectively in the dozen film series put out by Monogram Pictures.

By the time the next to last  Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film, Tarzan and the Huntress,  came out in 1947 Sheffield just was not boyish enough to be boy any longer and he left the movie series to complete high school. Actually I am not sure if he left or was asked to leave by producer Sol Lessor, but in any case the then RKO produced Weissmuller Tarzan films were about over and Weissmuller would go on to do the Jungle Jim films for Columbia Pictures. A young and buff Sheffield was soon snatched up in 1949 by Monogram producer Walter Mirisch to play Bomba the Jungle which was to be loosely based on the paperback series by Roy Rockwood – a pen name used by Stratemeyer Syndicate and used by several writers I assume- but seemed to be more an extension of the Tarzan series and of Sheffield’s boy role. Like any good jungle movie the hero was white, had been lost in the jungle as a baby and raised by animals, learns English somehow but speaks haltingly with few prepositions or articles and has become a legend among the superstitious natives in the African jungle. Bomba is young and full of innocent curiosity, not as cynical as Tarzan yet. Sheffield is in great shape and his Bomba prefers a spear to a knife. Like Tarzan he is curious about white men (‘other’ white men of course. Even in the Jungle Jim series Jim is always referring to ‘white men’ as something other than himself, as though he were closer to local natives he routinely beats the shit out of) and more trusting but uncompromising in his respect for the laws and ways of the jungle he grew up in. And like any good jungle movie the film is loaded with bad bwanas who want to exploit the jungle and its inhabitants in pursuit of lost treasures or untapped resources.

And so is the case in Bomba on Panther Island where our loin cloth clad young hero must not only  track down a murderous black panther that kills his pet monkey at the beginning of the show but must deal with unscrupulous bwanas who want to exploit the jungle to build a plantation. Actually the bwanas in this is not really too evil. Robert Maitland (Harry Lewis) just wants to set up the plantation as a way for him and his sister Judy (Allene Roberts) to have a sort of future. Judy pines for the big city lights of America and spends her time grumbling about how boring Africa is. The other white guy is some old geezer named Andy (Charles Irwin) who has all sorts of wisdom since he is old and is always slamming Harry with some of that old guy insight. Also hanging out at the plantation is the sultry and flirtatious French house girl Losana (played by Lita Baron who was in the first Jungle Jim and that was reviewed here and I made some comments about her dance sequence rivaling Tandra Quinn’s  dance as Tarantella in Mesa of Lost Women as one of the worst ever in b-movie history) who starts making moves on shy Bomba from the get go. A sort of romance triangle develops between Bomba and the two girls who compete for his attention but Bomba ain’t having none of it as he would rather watch wrestling matches between water buffalos and crocodiles in his free time. And I am serious, there is some stock footage of a fight between a water buffalo and a crocodile in this one. All the while poor Robert Maitland is having a heck of time getting the superstitious natives to finish any of their work and they blame the recent spat of panther attacks on his desecration of sacred forest land for his blasted plantation. If it wasn’t for ol’ Andy sounding like Will Rodgers every other scene Robert would probably chuck the whole thing and head back the big city with July.

And it should come as no surprise that in the end Bomba gets revenge upon the panther for killing his monkey –and a few natives- and no one has sex though the two gals are pretty much primed for a ménage à trios with Bomba. In the end Robert about has had it with it all but suddenly July changes her mind abut the jungle life and Andy waxes philosophically and he decides to stay and deal with the army ants and man eating panthers and find a suitable life for himself and his sister in the middle of a sweltering living hell. Bomba strolls off with his spear to ore adventures. Fans of jungle films who have never seen a Bomba movie will be in for a real treat with this one and people who hate the genre will not be converted. If you are going spend the whole 70 or minutes looking for ‘racist’ stereotypes’ and deriding the film as something beneath you then probably this is not for you. But if you like white guys (and sometimes gals) raised by chimps and speaking in monosyllables and not fearing to tread to places that send natives scurrying the opposite direction then Bomba on Panther Island is for you.

JUNGLE JIM/JOHNNY WEISSMULLER/JUNGLE JIM-THE LOST TRIBE-CAPTIVE GIRL

Posted in Adventure-Action, Johnny Weissmuller, Jungle Jim, Kings and Queens of the Jungle, Lita Baron, Sam Katzman, Tarzan on September 4, 2011 by Bill Courtney
I have almost all of the Jungle Jim series, or sixteen movies, with Johnny Weissmuller expect for one episode which right now I forget the title of. The films are basically God awful on the most basic level and yet charming and lots of fun on another. You cannot really deny the cheesiness of the productions or Weissmuller’s sour expression in most scenes. Nor can you ignore Weissmuller’s obvious lack of acting skills as he misses dialog cues and tends to stand around and stare blankly at what is going on around him. That is not to say that what is happening around our bemused hero requires all that much concentration on our part and the stories are often the same plot done over from episode to episode. People who hate bad movies will want to steer clear of the entire series but if you’re like me and love to lay back and watch a film full of stock footage and Neanderthal level dialog then you will want to try to check some of these out. The films do plod along more than Weissmuller’s Tarzan films, even the latter Tarzan films like Tarzan and the Mermaids. As far as I know Tarzan and Jungle Jim were the only roles Weissmuller ever played.
This series of posts will introduce three of the films at a time with a bit of a review, screen captures and poster art and any trivia I can dig up online, but that is not much really. There is a little information but it is sorely wanting. Maybe my humble effort here can generate a little interest in the series amongst B-movie mavens. If you have never seen a Jungle Jim feature the best way to describe one is that Weissmuller’s Tarzan got a little older and fatter and was offered a job as a tour guide or game warden or something. Jim still has animal buddies that include a couple chimps, a little mutt and a crow named Caw Caw. More info on the other animals later since there are some changes that occur over the series. In fact Caw Caw does not even last that long and by the 4th or 5th Jungle Jim movie (can’t remember exactly) Caw Caw only appears a stuffed bird mounted and wobbling on Jim’s shoulder. The dog –whose name escapes me at the moment but I will be watching the films over before I do the review and provide you with all that priceless information- just vanishes from the stories without explanation and soon there is only Tamba the chimp whose behavior makes Cheetah look down right saintly. Seems as if the chimp’s name changes too in the series but I forget the second chimp’s name. Kimba maybe. If that is not confusing enough Jungle Jim actually changes his name in the last few episodes from Jungle Jim to -are you ready for this- Johnny Weissmuller! Man was I confused. This change was due to some legal issues and ownership of the name after the films became a television series starring Weissmuller. The Jungle Jim series was also produced, as the latter Tarzan films, by Sam Katzamn and we will explore Katzman at a later date.
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Before taking at look at our first three Jungle Jim films there are a few recurring themes or situations in each film and I will expound on some of these in later posts:
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  • As in the Tarzan films the threat almost always come from evil, white men out to exploit either the natural resources or the secret treasures of a local or lost tribe. The men, often called Bwanas, seem to always have Pith helmets and slim little, Clark Gable style mustaches.
  • At the end of most Jungle Jim films Tamba alone or with another animal does some stupid action that has Jim and the rest of the cast bursting out in riotous laughter. Typically the gags are so hokey the more reasonable response would be to hurl a rock up along side the monkey’s head.
  • There is never any romantic interests for poor, lonely Jim. Maybe he does not make that much as a tour guide. Or maybe it is his gruff, standoffish personality. Typically when he first meets a woman in the series he exudes nothing but a chauvinistic attitude as if a woman has no business in the jungle doing manly things like him.
  • Animals from everywhere in the world outside Africa appear on the continent. This includes orangutans, water buffalo from southeast Asia, tigers, North American raccoons, toucans from South America and on and on.
  • The series is totally inaccurate and all but flat racist -by today’s standards- in the way ‘natives’ are represented, and in particular the way black Africans are represented. Most of the natives appear to be more Polynesian than anything else. They are all basically white. Any tribe that is advanced is white in any case. All lost civilizations with an advanced almost Roman or Grecian cultures are white. Any tribes that are cannibals or head hunters and who can speak no English are black. Even a tribe of pygmies are shown to be white and speaking broken English. Yes, a tribe of white pygmies.
  •  Even if the people in the film wear uniforms and Fez hates from Morocco and have guns they are referred to as ‘natives’. It would seen then that unless you’re from North America or Northern Europe you are a “native”.
  • All strange tribes where the people look white can speak English but they exclude all articles and prepositions in their sentences. 
  • The real threat to wild life is Jim himself and he kills at least four or five endangered species in each episode, always with a knife except for one time where he uses a gun.
  • Jim will swim in almost every episode. Of course Weissmuller was an Olympic swimming champ and this was his ticket to stardom. To see Weissmuller sans shirt and swimming reminds us of a time when flaunting man boobs was not something that guaranteed revulsion on the part of the opposite sex. The good ol’days

JUNGLE JIM

1948/Director: William Berke/Writer: Caroll Young
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Virginia Grey, George Reeves, Lita Baron
The first Jungle Jim feature has out hero Jim Bradley helping the studious Dr. Hilary Parker (Virginia Grey) with a trek into the remote jungles of darkest Africa to the hidden temple of Zimbalu on a quest for a cure for polio, which still ravaged the world in 1948. We know Dr. Parker is the studious type because she wears big, think librarian type glasses and is always typing away at something. Jim kills his first animal of the film series, a leopard, at about four minutes into the movie and the carnage never lets up for the next fifteen episodes. He kills his next animal, a crocodile, at about 20 minutes in the movie, rescuing the bookwormish Dr. Parker of course. In a turn he actually uses a pistol here. Jim takes a break and does not kill another animal until about fifty minutes into the show and what the hell kind of an animal it is I have no clue. Some crypto-zoological nightmare! I think it is supposed to be a crocodile but when it surfaces it looks like some sort of alien mutant that uses it tail like it is an octopus tentacle. It is one thing to relocate animals from other continents to Africa but another to create entirely new species. I tried to get a screen capture of it below. Maybe the filmmakers just did not want Jim to kill off two crocs in one show.
There is as usual no sparks between Jim and Hilary but he does give her a nod when he is impressed with her swan dive. Along the way we meet the jungle girl Zia (Lita Baron) who does a dance that is so awkward and embarrassing to witness that it makes Tarantella’s missteps in Mesa of Lost Women look like some high form of Russian ballet. Who needs a choreographer when you have Tamba the chimp to teach the dance routines I guess. The evil photographer Bruce Edwards is played by none other than a pre-Superman Georges Reeves. He plays a pretty decent bad guy and is the stereo-typed greedy white guy that appears in almost all jungle movies where there is a good white guy like Tarzan, Jungle Jim or Bomba the Jungle Boy. The people running the temple Zimbalu temple are grunting savages who all but have bones running through their noses and so are of a darker skin tone than our more sophisticated heroes and villains. Of course they have no idea what a camera is and think it is magic allowing our villain to manipulate them by capturing their souls or something.
It does not seem that Weissmuller –who was Hungarian and not a native English speaker- is able to do much more speaking than he did as Tarzan and he tends to be monosyllabic –with some improvement in the areas of articles, prepositions and verb tenses from the Tarzan days- and he appears dazed most of the time. I get a big kick out of the opening credits of the early Jungle Jim films where Weissmuller glances back over his shoulder in what is supposed to be alertness but comes off more like the look of someone who just got caught shoplifting. The opening credits for this film are a little different but still show a confused Jungle Jim staggering out of the jungle which was actually the Ray Corrigan Ranch in Simi California. Of course at the end Jim winds up killing most of the natives with his bare hands and throws a few into the sacrificial fire. He is set loose my Caw Caw and in most episodes he is freed from the captivity of the bad guys by one of his animal buddies. In later shows we have to witness some sort of gag pulled by Tamba or Kimba and some other animal but the first couple episodes lacked this sort of trademark ending that most of the films have.

THE LOST TRIBE

1949/Director: William Berke/Writer: Arthur Hoerl
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Myrna Dell, Elena Verdugo, Joseph Vitale, Ralph Dunn, George J. Lewis, Nelson Leigh
The second Jungle Jim feature shows a bit more promise than did the first one as film number one was a test film actually. Sam Katzman had made clear in his contract with Weissmuller that the former Tarzan star’s first Jungle Jim film would have to turn a profit or the deal was off. Luckily for Weissmuller and posterities bad film lovers the first film was enough of a success with the Saturday matinee kiddie crowd that a follow up was made. The Lost Tribe takes off in a direction that most subsequent Jungle Jim’s would follow and that was Jim saving a secret or lost tribe of white people from greedy white guys out to loot it of some treasure or exploitable commodity. The people of the lost city of Dzamm look more like the survivors of Atlantis than any tribe that has ever existed in Africa or any other continent. Jim also wastes little time in killing off wildlife in this film. At about five minutes he rescues Skipper the mutt from a crocodile using nothing more than a knife he keeps strapped to his side. After killing a croc with a pistol in the first film Jim relinquishes guns for the rest of the series and relies on a knife the way Tarzan did only Jim kills a lot more animals. In fact this croc looks like the same rubber one Weissmuller killed off in many a Tarzan film. At about twenty five minutes into the feature Jim rescues a man in a gorilla suit with a real baby chimp hanging from his back from a lion. The action is viewed by a couple orangutans that seem to have gotten lost from the island of Borneo. At about thirty three minutes Jim attacks and kills a shark! At fifty five minutes he whoops another shark’s tail fin but does not kill it. In fact it looks like the same footage used over from the first shark scene. As well as lost orangutans there is a North American raccoon at the beginning of the film playing with Skipper and a huge Southeast Asian water buffalo at another point and a toucan flew all the way from Panama to be a scene.
Jim gets himself tied on a cargo ship up and beaten by the evil white guys not once but twice! Caw Caw the crow must have felt it was a real waste of time to free him the first time. A bad guy plays one of those games where he throws knives at the native girl –dressed in a Hawaiian style skirt that many African tribal girls wear in the Jim films- and gets closer and closer each time and so Jim feels compelled to break his promise not to show outsiders the lost city. Not to worry since at the end a big hand to hand combat sequence breaks out and the gorilla that Jim rescued earlier in the film shows up with some of her friends and helps to beat the tar out of the bad bwanas.
The film is shot a little better than the first feature and is still packed with loads of grainy, mismatched stock footage, like a scene of stampeding monkeys that shows up in a few Jim films I think. Weissmuller seems to be settling in to his new role now but the poor guy simply can’t act. In one scene he misses his dialog cue and almost begins talking too soon but stops and waits for the other actor –Nelson Leigh as the king of Dzamm, Zoron – to finish his line first then continues in what must have been an awkward moment. B-movie director William Berke –who would do many of the Jungle Jim films- seems a little more relaxed this time around as well and some shots are not really that bad. Some of the fight scenes on the ship have an obvious double for Weissmuller is slow and sluggish most of the time but in those days usually a fight ended after one good solid blow to the jaw. The tone for all the following Jungle Jim movies seems to have been set in these first two films with some minor variations. From film to film the plot will always be about the same though the next film does feature a another special ingredient of the old jungle adventures: the white Jungle girl, and that film is called Captive Girl. Lets have a peek at that one now.

CAPTIVE GIRL

1950/Director: William Berke/Writer: Caroll Young
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Anita Lhoest, Rick Vallin, John Dehner
The third Jungle Jim film kicks the camp into high gear from the get go with a shot of The Wild Girl of lake Bokonji standing over what is obviously a man made pond at the well maintained Ray Corrigan Ranch where much of the Jungle Jim wild Africa scenes were shot. Joan Martindale, aka the Wild Girl or the White witch by the tribe of bad guys, is played by swimming champion Anita Lhoest in what would be her only film role. Also in the film is another swimming champ and star of many b-films as well as the Flash Gordon serial Buster Crabbe as the bad guy. Of course Crabbe is after is after yet more hidden treasure of a yet another lost tribe. All of these lost tribes seem to be within walking distance of where ever Jungle Jim Bradley calls home. Hakim is the evil witch doctor and is a white actor (John Dehner) with something like shoe polish all over his face. The treasure is at the bottom of the Lagoon of the Dead next to the witch doctor’s village and Hakim is also responsible for the death’s of Joan’s parents after they were lost in the jungles years before. Skipper the mutt and Caw Caw the crow are back as is Tamba the annoying chimp. Weissmuller tried his hand at some longer stretches of dialog here and there and does a bit better than in the first two films.
Some of the natives again look Polynesian and communicate by conga drums. Caw Caw in most scenes is now a stuffed bird on Jim’s shoulder. The Wild Girl is accompanied by her companion a rare African Tiger! We witness stock footage of a tiger fighting a Southeast Asian water buffalo. We also are treated at the end of the film to that monkey stampede stock footage I talked about last movie. We also treated, if you want to call it that, to repeated shots of the Wild Girl peering out over the pond, the same scene from the beginning. Jim kills a croc at about twenty one minutes into the movie and that is the only animal killed in this film though he does fight a tiger. This film is also the first of the series where the ending has something to with Tamba the chimp –and later Kimba- doing something really stupid and everybody busts out laughing. Most of the future films would end like this. The jungle girls has lived since childhood in the wilds of untamed Africa but manages to get her hair bleached regularly and keep herself in mascara and lipstick.
Buster Crabbe is pretty decent as the bad guy but by this third episode you have basically seen every Jungle Jim movie that will ever be made in terms of basic story line. Some parts are pretty fun, like watching the Wild Girl trying to speak English with Jim and not being able to tell whose English is worse. Lots of scenes of Tamba hugging Skipper and watching some stock footage of animal fights, like one between a tiger and a black panther. Jim’s buddy in this film wear a turban and looks like a fortune teller in a sideshow. If you are watching the films from first to last you may want to give up now but I encourage you to hang in there and finish them all as they do actually get more unbelievable as they go along.
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TARZAN THE APEMAN/1932/JOHNNY WEISSMULLER

Posted in Adventure-Action, Johnny Weissmuller, Kings and Queens of the Jungle, Maureen O'Sullivan, Tarzan on July 8, 2011 by Bill Courtney
TARZAN THE APEMAN
1932/Director: W.S. Van Dyke / Screeplay: Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel), Cyril Hume (adaptation)
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Neil Hamilton, Maureen O’Sullivan, C. Aubrey Smith, Doris Lloyd, Forrester Harvey, Ivory Williams

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.

TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS/1945/JOHNNY WEISSMULLER

Posted in Adventure-Action, Brenda Joyce, Johnny Sheffield, Johnny Weissmuller, Kings and Queens of the Jungle, RKO, Tarzan on June 22, 2011 by Bill Courtney
TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS

1945/ Director: Kurt Neumann/ Writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters)/ John Jacoby (writer)

Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Johnny Sheffield, Brenda Joyce, Henry Stephenson, Maria Ouspenskaya, Barton MacLane, Shirley O’Hara

Tarzan and the Amazons was Johnny Weissmuller’s ninth outing as Edgar Rice Burrough’s  and his youthful and Olympian physique of 1932’s Tarzan and the Apes have long disappeared, though he is still sturdy and imposing, as has sexy Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane. After a couple films absent of  Jane (who is abroad in her home of England, though the original Jane was America) she returns to her true home in Tarzan and the Amazons and is now played by the lovely (but not smoldering, as Ms O’Sullivan certainly was) Brenda Joyce. The film was produced by film maverick Sol Lesser and co-produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The pair would churn out the last of the great, classic Weismuller Tarzan films for RKO, from 1945 to 1954, (the latter ones starring Lex Baxter as the ape man). Tarzan and the Amazons considered by many fans of the Weismuller films to be one of the better ones technically and certainly the sets and photography are a notch above many of the earlier films. Under RKO and Lesser the Tarzan films worked on less of budget than they did under might MGM, but they films seem to look a feel more authentic for some sense, though Weismuller is obviously not inclined to want to do sit ups or skip on second helpings. Also returning is Johnny Sheffield as Boy who is getting bigger and yet is still curious and susceptible to trusting white men from the outside world.

While rafting with Boy and Cheetah, on their way to greet Jane who has returned from England, Tarzan rescues an Amazon girl named Athena from a black panther. She is injured and he must carry her all the way back to the lost city of Palmyria. It is city inhabited completely by shapely, beautiful white women, except for the high priestess, played by Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya, who is weather worn and wise to the ways of the outside world. However they trust Tarzan and so his life is to be spared for entering the forbidden city. Of course Tarzan tell Boy to stay put he follows and discovers the secret passage through the immense mountain range that surrounds Palmyria.

Tarzan and Boy later meet Jane who is accompanied by the “good archeologist” Guy Henderson and his expedition, which of course contains the necessary greed filled guides who will later do anything for gold, including throw knives in the back of pretty Amazons. The expedition become interested in a bracelet worn by Jane, which was dropped by Athena and then given to Jane by Cheetah, and link it to a lost civilization and possibly untold riches. Jane, fresh back from Britain and tainted still, argues with Tarzan that he is narrow minded and a poor judge of character after he refuses to lead the expedition to the lost city. This is enough to get boy thinking and he decides to lead the expedition there, as he has, once again, become beguiled by western people and their gadgets. The expedition is course captured and will be sacrificed but noble Sir Guy convinces the high priestess of his sincerity and she agrees to release them all. But the bad guys screw it all up and kill Sir Guy and a few Amazon girls and make off with arm loads of gold. The booty helps to slow them down enough so that they get killed off one by one and a couple wind up in quicksand while a stone faced Tarzan watched them sink.


You would have to be a fan of the Weismuller Tarzan flicks to really get into it all, and I certainly am. I watched about five of them over the last week and loved them all and will try to get a couple more reviews up over time. The movies were simple but always had a direct message about greed and honor and loyalty to the people who trust you. And of course, never trust civilized white people, just half naked ones of royal descent who now live in the jungle, or sexy ones of a lost tribe of Anglo Amazons. And of course, always trust your monkey.