- Richard Thorpe
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Jane’s cousins are brought to Tarzan by treacherous explorer Captain Fry (John Buckler) who wants to capture the man who has generated such myth and folklore among the tribes of savages in the region, supposed a “white ape” and quite a fearful creature. Not to reveal much of the plot, I’ll say this fact leads to the events that end up in the movie’s title.
This film continued Tarzan and His Mate (1934) not without every possible trademark: there’s quite a bit of sexual lingo between Tarzan and Jane, we have Cheetah the chimpanzee for comic relief, there are unnecessary battles with animals here and there and, most importantly, the plot deals with people dropping by in Tarzan’s home and meeting quite an adventure. The formula started feeling a bit tired by now but it still worked and there’s a good amount of entertainment. However, the tone of the franchise could have changed completely …
It’s quite a historical account: Director James C. McKay shot many scenes that were considered gruesome by test audiences. I was surprised, late into the film, to see some shocking violence in the jungle scenes, particularly the ones in the swamp, and I found it to be incongruous with the overall tone of the movie. Later I learned about McKay’s work and understood perfectly well. Turns out, after the rejection during the first screenings much of the film was re-shot by a new director, John Farrow (who went on to marry Maureen O’Sullivan, killing me of jealousy if I had been alive, and even now though it’s completely irrational), making several changes in cast and story. For one, there’s a whole new character, Fry’s aide Rawlins (Herbert Mundin), whose purpose is that of comic relief and quite a welcome presence it is. At the end, for some reason, only director Richard Thorpe was credited.
The result is uneven. You can see the energy and the vibe coming but it doesn’t quite reach you. It’s a bit formulaic though the formula is good, and not very inventive. One can only imagine how the film looked with all its violent sequences, and it kills several film buffs to imagine the greatest of all Tarzan movies. I’m among them, but as it is, I’m content with the final result.
Now, about that Maureen… It was all going great, we got a lot of skin in the previous entry, and now they come and cover her up. Goes to show you how the Code impacted Hollywood. But she’s great and lovely as ever, and completely credible in her dramatic turn as nostalgia takes over her character. Weissmuller just continues his greatness as Tarzan, also showing extra sensibility, and the rest of the cast do a good job.
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