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The One, the Only, the Real Tarzan (2004)

The One, The Only, The Real Tarzan is a compelling look at the turbulent life of Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic champion who became the most famous Tarzan of the movies.




Credited cast:
Julian Lesser
Johnny Weissmuller Jr. ...
Himself - Subject (archive footage)


The One, The Only, The Real Tarzan is a compelling look at the turbulent life of Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic champion who became the most famous Tarzan of the movies.

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Release Date:

22 August 2004 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Unicul, adevaratul Tarzan  »

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An European Documentary About Johnny
6 November 2007 | by (CGSM,Soseaua Nationala 49) – See all my reviews

I've seen Florin Iepan's documentary about Johnny W.; it included interviews with Johnny's children: Johnny Jr. and Wendy.

The facts about his illness and his final phase ,in Acapulco, about his poverty and humiliation, were very striking.

Iepan's documentary (made with the German ZDF) reestablishes the little known truth that Johnny was born in Europe—and more precisely, in Banat (today Banat is a province of Romania; a century ago, though, Banat was a part of the Austrian Empire). So, by birth, Johnny was an Austrian citizen.

The documentary says a few things about Johnny Wm.'s career as a sportsman, about his swimming records, etc..

Also about his many marriages, his private life (as a womanizer and alcoholic), about his several (five) wives.

In his acting career, in his professional life as a movie star, Johnny Wm. gave THE ONLY definitive screen version of Tarzan, and this is for me one of the ten wonders that the adventure cinema offers. With his role, Johnny did a lot of good to a lot of children and was a source of many fond memories for the Tarzan buffs.

The reasons his children give for his painful decline are not acceptable. In fact, I don't think there are any rational motives. The studios used him, then they simply weren't interested in continuing to do that. Johnny is not the only has—been to have such a fate. After his failure to get anymore roles, began his tribulations in Europe, his being used by all kinds of small—time crooks.

An important chapter in Johnny's decline was the role played (in the real life!) by his impresario ,the one who got the bigger part of Johnny's fortune.He was, so, crooked by his own manager and impresario. And his divorces were very ruining also.

I must admit I didn't like the out—of--place comments of Johnny's children about their father's supposed inability to act—it was pretty disturbing to hear Johnny Jr. saying that his father was in fact no actor, that he wasn't a Cary Grant, etc..No sh!t, Johnny Jr.!That was quite tactless and an uncalled for thing to state. As an actor (for he certainly was one!), Johnny was cool and handsome and the only Tarzan on screen ever; I had the chance to see one of the Tarzan movies at the theater when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, and it was a first—class experience. For me, Lex Barker, the man who was seen in the '50s as the ideal replacement for Johnny Wm., was indeed a good successor and I like Barker too.

Johnny Jr. should not be so modest about merits that aren't his! (--To say, contemptuously, that Johnny Sr. was no Cary Grant! No sh!t! That was an useful explanation!)

Iepan's film manages to showcase something of the moving fascination of this imposing film star. It is interested in seizing the dynamics of his life and doesn't avoid the disturbing aspects. Fans will learn enough things in a coherent form (--the narration uses a discontinuous line, in zig—zag--,advancing and returning and using a system of significant oppositions between the various phases of Johnny's life . ). The portrait is not very flattering, it's true—and one reads between the (numerous) lines that Johnny was an alcoholic and womanizer and a party—addicted and not a very good father, etc.. The things being such, I don't think that lies would of been better.

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