Tarzan and His Mate
- Cedric Gibbons
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, May 22, 2007
This time around, the story isn’t told from the point of view of Jane Parker (Maureen O’Sullivan) but that of her former suitor Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) and his new partner and buddy Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh) who set to find the elephant’s graveyard to get the ivory, as Harry did in the previous film along with Jane’s father. Admittedly, Harry is in to get Jane back, while Martin lusts for the ivory.
So the trip is on and it’s exactly the same as in Tarzan the Ape Man, with more or less the same perils and more or less the same type of encounter with Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller). Only now Jane is with him, living with him as his mate, and helps the civilized men by convincing Tarzan to aid them, without the Ape Man’s knowledge of what they’re really looking for.
If Harry was in love with Jane before, it’s easy to see why he falls for her way more this time. She’s dressed in the least possible savage clothing, baring so much skin it’s unbelievable for its time, but of course it’s pre-Code Hollywood so that explains it. Harry and especially Martin go head over heels for Jane, and enter a competition to win her from Tarzan… But of course Tarzan’s the man, so even though Jane has her doubts, there’s no way she’ll return to civilization. Or is it?
Getting into the notable lack of clothing… There seems to be a tendency towards nakedness here. Tarzan is of course no more or less undressed than before, but this time Jane joins him and even Martin takes a bath during a scene in the beginning which seems completely unnecessary. But the focus is always on Jane, who undresses in a tent allowing us to see her perfect silhouette, and later skinny dips with Tarzan! The latter is a notorious scene that was removed for decades and recently restored. It features professional swimmer Josephine McKim instead of Maureen O’Sullivan, but it’s Jane after all, and she’s completely naked. I was stunned.
As I said, the story follows a similar structure as the first one, but with important variations. The first one is that the mythical elephant’s graveyard is disregarded as an ethical source of ivory, with Tarzan strongly opposing that greedy practice. There’s a scene where he summons dozens of elephants to prevent the action which is completely impressive. Other than that, the film’s as politically incorrect as ever, particularly with black people treated inhumanly as slaves.
The animal scenes are overall superior, sometimes even unbelievable, and the action is in general better than in the previous entry. Still some fights with animals get in the way of the story, but are a good showcase for Tarzan. This time around, Jane enters the action, including her own version of the Tarzan call which is hard to get used to. Cheeta the monkey is back again, this time with Little Cheeta coming along, and it’s clear where the comic relief lies, but it’s still subtle enough.
The story gets into tragic terrains towards the end which is priceless. This is very complete entertainment, and a proud follow-up to the first classic film.
“Good morning, I love you.”
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