A letter from Jane, who is nursing British troops, asks Tarzan's help in obtaining a malaria serum extractable from jungle plants. Tarzan and Boy set out across the desert looking for the ... See full summary »
Tarzan and Jane are sailing for France in answer to a call for help from Countess de Coude who is being persecuted by her brother Rokoff. After a duel with the Countess' jealous husband, ... See full summary »
In the African Jungle, a group of Europeans come across the fabled white man who was raised by apes. Tarzan takes an immediate liking to the blond Mary Brooks and rescues her during a nasty... See full summary »
After Tarzan's estate is destroyed by Arabs Jane is sold into slavery by a man posing as a friendly scientist. Tarzan develops amnesia after a blow to the head. When he recovers his memory ... See full summary »
Mary and Bobby Trevor are castaways befriended by Tarzan. When Lord arrives, looking for the family heir, Black John tries to fill that role and marry Mary in England. Tarzan shows up and ... See full summary »
The Green Goddess is a totem worshiped by the primitive natives of a lost city deep in the jungles of Guatemala. It contains both a fortune in jewels and an ancient formula for a ... See full summary »
Flora Hawks is in love with the overseer of Tarzan's African estate. After a search for a legendary city of diamonds, Tarzon races with his pet lion Jad-bal-ja to save Haws from being ... See full summary »
This movie has little connection with the 1932 original. It does, however, have lifted footage (tinted to more-or-less match the color), including obvious footage of Weissmuller's ... See full summary »
Tarzan and Jane are to sail for England. They are attacked by natives and Tarzan is believed to have been killed. The Greystoke relatives return to England, the Porters (Jane's family) goes... See full summary »
James Parker and Harry Holt are on an expedition in Africa in search of the elephant burial grounds that will provide enough ivory to make them rich. Parker's beautiful young daughter Jane arrives unexpectedly to join them. Harry is obviously attracted to Jane and he does his best to help protect her from all the dangers that they experience in the jungle. Jane is terrified when Tarzan and his ape friends first abduct her, but when she returns to her father's expedition she has second thoughts about leaving Tarzan. After the expedition is captured by a tribe of violent dwarfs, Jane sends Cheetah to bring Tarzan to rescue them... Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
TARZAN THE APE MAN was one of Irving Thalberg's 'pet' projects at MGM, an opportunity to take an existing franchise (Edgar Rice Burroughs' jungle lord had been a film staple since beefy Elmo Lincoln donned a loincloth, in 1918), give it 'A'-list production values and a 'name' director (W.S. Van Dyke), introduce charismatic actors as the leads (28-year old multiple Olympic champion Johnny Weissmuller and 21-year old Irish import Maureen O'Sullivan), and create a 'definitive' success for the studio.
A success? Thalberg created a legend!
Utilizing MGM's vast library of stock footage (primarily from 1931's TRADER HORN), a primordial Africa that was more pulp fiction than reality was created on the back lot, and veteran British character actor C. Aubrey Smith and 20s matinee idol (and future 'Batman' regular) Neil Hamilton were introduced, as James Parker and Harry Holt, adventurers questing after the legendary 'Elephants' Graveyard'. The arrival of Parker's daughter, Jane (O'Sullivan), a free-spirited, raven-haired beauty, complicates matters, but her stubborn refusal to lease, and confidence with the natives (shown as rear projections behind Smith and O'Sullivan) finally win the two men over, and soon the trio, accompanied by whip-induced native labor, are on safari.
When a dying porter points the way to the Escarpment, a massive 'taboo' mountainous plateau protecting the Graveyard, the party has the missing piece to the puzzle, and begin an arduous climb to the top. (How a massive mountain range could be hidden, for so long, is not explained). After losing a porter, and nearly Jane, on the steep climb, the summit is achieved, and the famous Tarzan yell (a combination yodel/howl, created by MGM's sound department), is first heard. A treacherous river crossing, featuring stock footage of hippos and crocodiles, then costs the safari more bearers, with another yell saving their lives.
All this leads up, of course, to Johnny Weissmuller's first appearance as Tarzan, observing the party from the trees. He is simply magnificent...tanned, slim, smoothly-muscled (as opposed to the brawny body builders later cast in the role) and nearly naked. He soon kidnaps Jane (he may be ignorant, but he's not dumb!), and the incredible chemistry between the pair is exhibited for the first time. While initially terrified of the savage (particularly as he pulls off her clothing parts to examine them), he doesn't 'have his way' with her, and she realizes he is far more sensitive than she'd assumed.
Holt kills the ape guarding Jane (one assumes it is Kala, ape 'mother' of Tarzan, in the ERB books), and Tarzan screams in anguish at his loss. Displaying the racism prevalent in so many 30s films, Jane tries to defend her erstwhile kidnapper to her father ("He's WHITE!"), but the two hunters aren't buying it, and soon wound Tarzan, himself. Jungle animals spirit the bleeding jungle lord away...and Jane is soon at Tarzan's side, bandaging his head, and looking lustily at the big lug! When he recovers, the pair consummate their passion (in a scene tastefully off-camera), and are swapping names ("Jane...Tarzan...Tarzan...Jane").
Tarzan returns Jane, and walks away, despite her pleas to return to civilization with them. The safari is soon captured by a height-challenged native tribe ("Are they Pygmies?" Jane asks; "They're dwarves," her father replies...uh, whatever...), and a gruesome scene ensues of the surviving members being lassoed and dropped into a pit with a giant gorilla (a not-quite convincing guy in an ape suit). Holt is knocked unconscious, Parker is mortally injured, Cheeta is tossed against a wall, and Jane swoons in the gorilla's arms (shades of KING KONG), then Tarzan busts in, to kill the ape and save them all. As the ever-available stampede of elephants mash the dwarves into pulp, Tarzan leads the dying Parker, Jane, and Holt to the 'Elephants' Graveyard', where Jane's father passes away. Holt returns to civilization (he would return in the sequel, TARZAN AND HIS MATE) and Tarzan, Jane, and a recovering Cheeta start an exciting new life together!
Yes, the story is unintentionally campy, the 'apes', and animal fights, unconvincing, and there is blatant racism throughout the film. But as sheer entertainment, Depression-era audiences were enthralled. Weissmuller and O'Sullivan conveyed the kind of eroticism that pre-Code Hollywood was notorious for (and would reach even greater heights in the sequel), the action sequences were spectacular, and a new MGM franchise was born, that would produce six more films over the next nine years.
Thalberg had again proven why he was considered the film industry's resident genius!
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