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Gordon Scott makes his debut here as the king of the jungle in this
acceptable but routine Tarzan flick. TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE isn't as bad as
some of this film detractors claim. As far as the RKO Tarzan flicks go,
TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE is about average. What disappoints most Tarzan fans,
is that one would think with RKO introducing a new actor in the role of
Tarzan, they would have made this film a little something more. The film has
a good supporting cast, but the production values are slightly below par.
One would think the studio heads at RKO would have given this film a higher
budget considering they were introducing a "new" Tarzan. I've heard that
producer Sol Lesser tried to convince RKO to make this film in color, but
the studio brass refused. Lesser, who owned the screen rights to Burroughs
famous character, departed from RKO after twelve years of making Tarzan
flicks for RKO, and moved on to make Tarzan flicks with Scott for other
studios. I suspect it was RKO's refusal to allow him to shoot this film in
color and the usual low budget that made Lesser part company with RKO. The
next Tarzan flick (TARZAN AND THE LOST SAFARI) was in color and had a higher
Note: this film does have one scene thats a real gem. Tarzan rescues Vera Miles from quick sand and then tries to wash the mud off her. She tells Tarzan she needs a bath, so Tarzan agrees and tosses the startled Miss Miles in the drink.
6 ft. 4 inch Gordon Scott made this film for RKO on a very meager budget as the story goes....not much to get worked up about in this tale of rogue and con artist hunters who lie and try to trap animals to sell to the zoos. About the only redeeming quality to this film is Scott's bulging muscle physique......Scott by far the biggest muscleman Tarzan ever....Scott handles his role rudimentary and a little off center....he seems more perplexed with Vera Miles more than the animals....in real life Scott and Miles married......Scott is not given much to say that makes much sense...just grumbling and Me Tarzan, you Jane schuck!!!! Peter Van Eyck as a jungle doctor trying to save natives and animals alike.....this was very weak Tarzan film and rumor had it that Scott only made $50000 for the whole film.... His other Tarzan adventures turned into classics, such as "Tarzan and the Lost Safari", "Tarzan's Greatest Adventure" and "Tarzan the Magnificent"....in those films Scott's role as Tarzan reached new heights as an intelligent thinker......Greatest Adventure the best Tarzan ever in my mind....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gordon Scott made his motion picture debut as the Lord of the Jungle in "Dinner at the Ritz" director Harold D. Schuster's "Tarzan's Hidden Jungle" co-starring Peter Van Eyck, Jack Elam, Don Beddoe, Rex Ingram, and Vera Miles. Basically, this RKO release qualifies as just another Tarzan movie. Scott maintains the tradition of the choppy delivery perpetuated by Johnny Weismuller and carried on my Lex Barker. Tarzan tangles with big game hunters who have a quota in the number of barrels of animal fat, animal skins, and pounds of ivory they can harvest from the senseless slaughter of jungle wildlife. Of course, Tarzan supports the wildlife and meets a beautiful nurse and a dedicated doctor while he clashes with despicable poachers. When the hunters decimate the numbers of animals on one side of the river, they decide to cross the river into the Sukulu country. The obstacle that they face across the river is that the Sukulu tribe protects the animals and treats them with respect. The evil hunters fool the nurse into helping them convince the doctor that they are legitimate photographers who want to make a documentary about his efforts. Vera Miles learns about how dangerous that the jungle can be when she is caught between either sinking into a quicksand pit or being eaten by a python. Predictably, Tarzan saves the day. Not only does he rescue the comely young nurse, but he also saves the good doctor and her from death at the hands of the Sukulu. Scott makes an okay Tarzan and Elam is a dastard. Richard Reeves is around long enough to become a prisoner of the Sukulus. They hurl him into a den of lions and we are treated to a glimpse of a dummy dressed as him fall into the pit. Schuster doesn't wear out his welcome at a trim 72 minutes. "Perils of Nyoka" scenarist William Lively penned the screenplay in this clash of culture epics. Producer Sol Lesser had this adventure lensed in black & white with many obvious studio interiors. Tarzan doesn't live in a tree house. He neither has Jane as his mate or a son as his companion.
In the African jungles at RKO studios, white men hunt wild animals who
mind their own business in stock footage. This upsets jungle king
Gordon Scott (as Tarzan) and area natives. They wear animal skins,
bones and feathers. There is no "Jane", so Mr. Scott meets pretty nurse
Vera Miles (as Jill Hardy) taking a swim. They are mutually attracted.
Later, Scott rescues Ms. Miles from quicksand and washes a leg, arm and
neck before observing censorship rules. Several lions run toward the
camera. Sporting a 1950s hair style, this was Scott's first outing as
"Tarzan". Holding in his stomach even when he doesn't need to, Scott
handsomely shows off a beautiful physique. Miles is exceptionally
attractive. They got married.
**** Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (2/16/55) Harold D. Schuster ~ Gordon Scott, Vera Miles, Peter van Eyck, Jack Elam
Gordon Scott's debut film and his first time playing Tarzan, is not as bad as I had read. The story is quite simple (and repeated in his next two movies, with tension between an African witch doctor and a white physician), the pacing is OK, the running time is thankfully short, and the budget as low as in most of Tarzan's films of all colors and casts. Vera Miles is an attractive leading lady, although her attention mostly goes to her doctor boss, dully played by German Peter van Eyck. I believe that the best asset of this Tarzan motion picture is Scott's freshness and spontaneity. In the following entry (the first Tarzan film in color, "Tarzan and the Lost Safari") the budget made the hair gel and the pancake make-up too evident.
TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE (RKO Radio, 1955), directed by Harold Schuster,
introduces Gordon Scott to the screen and as Edgar Rice Burrough's
legendary jungle hero. Replacing Lex Barker, who bowed out of the
series after five installments, Scott, a lifeguard turned actor, was to
become the latest theatrical Tarzan during the final half of the 1950s,
thus, taking the series onto a whole new level. For Scott's
introduction as the muscular Tarzan, this was the last in the franchise
distributed through RKO Radio's Sol Lesser Productions. As it's
beginning and the end, TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE is standard jungle fare.
In a story that takes place in the course of a single day, TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE starts off with the ape man (Gordon Scott) taking his morning swim while his pet chimpanzee, Cheta (Zippy) watches amusingly on dry land. After going past a crocodile (with no battles involved), Tarzan comes out, climbs a tree, and tells Cheta, "I hear something!" That something turns out to be white hunters entering the scene as they shoot animals for their skin and tusks. The first victim is a lion, followed by the killing of a harmless deer before injury comes to a baby elephant. Tarzan asks himself, "Why men always want to kill?" After defeating the hunter's tribesmen, Tarzan tends to elephant's wounds and eventually encounters a medical clinic manned nearby with Doctor Celliers (Peter Van Eyck), accompanied by his nursing assistant, Jill Hardy (Vera Miles). Because a large assortment of animals are in Sukuki country across the river where they're held as sacred to the tribe, Burger (Jack Elam) and DeGroot (Charles Fredericks), working under strict orders of Mr. Johnson (Don Beddoe), attempt to deliver the goods to Nyrobi within ten days by posing as cameramen for an independent picture company. They trick Jill into persuading Doctor Celliers, who's friends with the chief Makumba (Rex Ingram), to guide them over to Sukuki territory and capture his work on film. While there, the hunters plot on luring the animals across the river to trap and slaughter them. Discovering these men as frauds, Jill heads out into the jungle to warn the doctor. Rescued from certain dangers by Tarzan, together they head over to Sukuki territory where, after learning the true intentions of the hunters, the angry chief, feeling betrayed, to have place intruders in a lion pit.
Reading the name of Vera Miles as Scott's co-star in the opening credits certainly should indicate Miles in the role of Tarzan's mate, Jane. Jane, however, is absent from this installment, with no explanation given. Interestingly, however, Miles did become Scott's mate in marriage after production was completed. Their scenes together include some amusing moments as their initial meeting as Jill swims naked (to the imagination, not the camera) as Tarzan stands by her clothes watching; and another where the dirty Jill says, "I need a bath," only to be thrown into the river by Tarzan, who laughingly says, "Girl want bath, girl get bath." While no Jane present, the writers eventually provided Tarzan with a blonde Jane (Eve Brent) and a boy (Rickie Sorensen)in TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE (1958). Without Tarzan's family, the action moves swiftly, which could be the sole reason as to why these central characters were dropped entirely by the end of the decade. Cheta, on the other hand, is around for some monkey business, but not so much as in previous installments. As Tarzan tells her, "Cheta come," Cheta makes it clear she'd rather be in the company of another chimp than venturing out with him, thus, forming the only romantic subplot in the story. Cheta and mate's closing moments rank as extremely cute and amusing.
For TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE, limited production values are evident. Echoes of verbal sounds and insertion of stock animal footage certainly indicate production was done in a closed jungle set. While drawbacks such as these might have put an end to this long running series, it actually didn't. Installments that followed showed much improvement over the previous ones, leaving Scott's final two outings, TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE (1959) and TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT (1960), both for Paramount, as the finest in the Scott series. Aside from being Jane-less, Scott's Tarzan would be allowed to speak articulately. Broken sentences worked better for the style of Johnny Weissmuller during his reign as Tarzan (1932-1948), but not so believable for both Lex Barker and Gordon Scott. Fortunately writers took notice and made Scott's Tarzan more to the creative style of Burroughs than Hollywood's interpretation that's been used for so long. Prime example here as Tarzanfinds Cheta with a wrist watch, "Where get?" he asks.
Though regarded the lesser in the series, TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE benefits by its short length (73 minutes) that limits itself to mediocre segments with more talk than action.
Never distributed to home video, available on DVD through Turner Home Entertainment, TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE's cable television's history consisted of American Movie Classics (1997-2000) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: September 3, 2011). Scott, though not bad as the title character, would be recalled to star in the next installment: TARZAN AND THE LOST SAFARI (MGM, 1957), being the first in the series produced in color and slight improvement over this edition. (**1/2)
Tarzan's Hidden Jungle marked the debut of Gordon Scott as Edgar Rice
Burroughs legendary ape man of the African jungle. It was also the last
Tarzan film done at RKO studios which was slowly going out of business
and would in the next two years. It was the reason they did not invest
this film with too many production values. It was nice that they
actually used black people to portray natives in the film as producers
did not on too many occasions for Johnny Weissmuller and Lex Barker
Gordon Scott was one of those Hollywood discovery stories you read about. A professional bodybuilder he was discovered pool side and brought to Hollywood and beat out a whole lot of other candidates for the Tarzan roles. He wasn't exactly Brando or Olivier with the dialog, but for someone who was making his screen debut with no other acting experience, Scott handled the dialog better than you would expect.
And he married the leading lady Vera Miles while still shooting the film. Miles plays the assistant to UN doctor Peter Van Eyck who gets tricked by some unscrupulous hunters, Jack Elam and Charles Fredericks, to take them along on his humanitarian mission.
Van Eyck's mission was to a native tribe who apparently were vegetarians because they did not believe in the killing of animals. As a result game flourished in their territory. As Tarzan is a friend of the animals as well, his mission was to stop the bad guys from harming his jungle friends.
Tarzan's Hidden Jungle is not a bad debut for Gordon Scott in the new role. In fact Scott was my particular favorite among the actors who played Tarzan.
Tarzan, "The ape man", fights it out (again) with a bunch of hunters, an evil witch-doctor and all those "scary" animals of the jungle. As you can see, this is what Tarzan's all about. Nothing new nor surprising here, no Academy Awards nominations, no great dialogue, not really exciting. When you see a Tarzan flick you know what to expect. I guess for some people that 's the charm of Tarzan, but there are better ways to spend your afternoon. And better Tarzan films (e.g. TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE)too. But it still is a Tarzan film, and there are also worse films than one of those. 4/10
Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Tarzan (Gordon Scott) must help a good doctor and his assistant (Vera Miles) when they're fooled by some "cameramen" who are actually hunters. The hunters trick the doctor into taking them across the river, which is a place guarded by a tribe who worship the jungle animals. This was Scott's first film as Tarzan and it's easy to see why fans originally went so crazy for the actor as he certainly fit the bill and turned in a fine performance. The story itself really isn't all that original and especially when you consider how many of the previous films dealt with Tarzan having to do battle against hunters coming to harm animals. The screenplay offers up the most basic story as Tarzan and Cheta are living happily in the jungle when animals begin to show up with gunshot wounds. Tarzan of course starts to investigate and this here leads up to him going after the bad guys. The story itself is pretty routine and it actually doesn't offer up too much excitement but thankfully the cast is good enough to where you can overlook some of the weak story points. Scott is pretty good as Tarzan as he certainly has the body for it and I thought the performance was fitting as well. Legend has it that Scott was noticed at a pool, brought to Hollywood and this newbie beat out some who had been acting for quite a period. Scott doesn't perfectly nail the dialogue but I thought he was believable as the ape man. Miles, a few years from Hitchcock, isn't the greatest female lead in the series but I found her to be quite entertaining. Scott and Miles would marry shortly after the filming of this film and the two certainly share some chemistry in front of the cameras. Peter van Eyck is fairly bland as the doctor but Jack Elam offers up a fun villain performance. As you'd expect, we get a few jungle animals in good form but there's also quite a bit of stock footage used as naturally it doesn't mix in too well with the real footage. Also on hard is a pretty good sequence where Miles is stranded in the jungle alone and faces a lion, a large snake and then quicksand. This sequence comes towards the end of the film but it has some nice drama to it. TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE isn't a masterpiece but fans of the series should be entertained with the cast doing such a fine job.
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