Dr. Sturdy is trying to establish a modern hospital in the jungle. His efforts are strongly opposed by Futa, the witch doctor, and Ramo, a native warrior. There are kidnappings, a race ...
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Dr. Sturdy is trying to establish a modern hospital in the jungle. His efforts are strongly opposed by Futa, the witch doctor, and Ramo, a native warrior. There are kidnappings, a race against time for serum, capture of Tarzan, the struggle of modern medicine against magic, etc.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
This was the final feature for producer Sol Lesser, ending a career that produced over one hundred features, including many other Tarzan features. See more »
There are several continuity breaks in the film: a brown-haired stuntman can be seen from behind doing stunts for the black-haired Scott, shots from other Scott-Tarzan films are inserted into action scenes, and the handle on Scott's hunting knife changes when some of these inserted shots are close-ups. See more »
Listen to the sounds of the jungle. Aren't they wonderful?
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TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1958), a Sol Lesser production, directed by H Bruce Humberstone, marks Gordon Scott's third go-round as the jungle warlord and the second in color (compliments of MetroColor). After two prior Tarzan adventures where the title character goes solo without his mate nor son, this edition returns to formula material commonly found in the 1940s starring Johnny Weissmuller where the plots revolved around Tarzan, Jane and their son, Boy. As with the latter Weissmuller entries, the Jane character, played then by Brenda Joyce from 1945-1949, enacted here by Eve Brent, is also blonde, this time wearing lipstock in certain scenes! The adopted son is not characterized as Boy, the name earlier used for Johnny Sheffield's carnation during his performance in eight entries (1939-1947), is now performed by Rickie Sorensen going under a new name of Tartu. There is still Cheta, however.
The story begins with Doctor Sturdy (Carl Benton-Reid) of the Medical Association, experimenting in a native hospital in Randini accompanied by his daughter, Anne (Jil Jarmyn). Hoping to fine a cure for a fever that had earlier killed a tribal chief in the distant village of Nigasso, Futa (James Edwards) does what he can to keep his tribe from accepting Sturdy's modern medical efforts of curing the sick in favor of using traditional witch doctor and black magic. Because the tribe shows no appreciation for her father's dedication in his hard work, Anne wants for them to leave before the natives turn hostile and form an attack towards them. Arriving to join Sturdy is Ken Warwick (Harry Lauter), arriving from England after two years of medical school in England. As the tribe comes to attack Anne and Ken, Tarzan (Gordon Scott) arrives in time to rescue them. Being a friend of the Nigasso tribe, Tarzan tries to learn from Futa why he and his tribe cannot be civil. Moments after their talk, one of the native girls is attacked by a crocodile. Tarzan dives into the water to bring her back to safety. Because the bite on her leg has caused a great loss of blood, Tarzan goes against Futa's orders by taking the injured native girl and placed under Sturdy's care. Though the native girl's leg is amputated, she later dies. Only because Tarzan continues to support Sturdy's medical methods does he become the enemy of Futa's tribe. During the course of the story, Tarzan's mate, Jane (Eve Brent) suffers from appendix pain, forcing Tarzan and son, Tartu (Rickie Sorensen, to immediately take Jane by down the river by canoe for emergency operation by Sturdy. Later Molo (Nick Stewart) comes to the hospital to carry on Futa's vengeful attempt to kill Jane in her hospital bed. When all fails, Futa orders to have Tarzan captured and bound so he could be sacrificed by having his heart taken from his body.
An acceptable production being a bit longer than usual (86 minutes), TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE offers enough material reminiscent to the older "Tarzan" formula of the Weissmuller days, including Tarzan and Jane kissing and having their leisurely play swim in the lake. Tarzan even shows he has his fight for life when combating realistically with a giant python. Here's one added bonus: Tarzan riding through the jungle on a giraffe. Some actual African jungle photography mixed with indoor sets along with color add greatly to its background and scenery. Then there's the chimpanzee, Cheta, this time sporting a loincloth around its waist like her master, Tarzan, allowing time for comedy relief with his junior Tarzan companion. Rickie Sorensen, around age nine here, does what's expected for little Tarzan. His character is never fully explained who he is or where he came from except that he's adopted by Tarzan and Jane. There must have been an orphanage nearby as opposed to Tarzan finding an orphan boy somewhere in the jungle and taking him home to Jane as was done in TARZAN FINDS A SON (1939) and TARZAN'S SAVAGE FURY (1952). James Edwards, who did a masterful job in his debut film of HOME OF THE BRAVE (1949), is nearly unrecognizable playing the evil warrior chief, supported by Woody Strode (Ramo); Roy Glenn (The High Counselor); and Milton Woody (The Temple Native). Gordon Scott shows himself to be better muscular and agreeable to the latest Tarzan of the 1950s, a role he would continue to play belting out his Tarzan call until 1960.
Aside from frequent broadcasts on commercial television in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, this and other Tarzan adventures have played on cable television as well, especially American Movie Classics (1997-2000) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: August 5, 2010). Though this was to be the final theatrical Tarzan adventure to include the nostalgic feel revolving around the Tarzan family trio, Scott, Brent and Sorensen united together once more in 1958 for a proposed television series that never sold, in which three episodes were edited together to form another feature-length venture titled TARZAN AND THE TRAPPERS. Of the two, TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE is much better. (***)
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