In the first sequel to Tarzan, the Ape Man, Harry Holt returns to Africa to head up a large ivory expedition. This time he brings his womanizing friend Marlin Arlington. Holt also harbors ideas about convincing Jane to return to London. When Holt and Arlington show Jane some of the modern clothes and perfumes they brought from civilization, she is impressed but not enough to return. Tarzan wrestles every wild animal imaginable to protect Jane but when he disallows the expedition from plundering ivory from the elephant burial grounds, it is he who takes a bullet from Arlington’s gun. Jane eventually believes that Tarzan is dead but he is nursed back to health by the apes. As Jane and the returning expedition are attacked by violent natives, we wonder if Tarzan can rescue them yet again.
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Cast and Crew:
Date Release: 1934
Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters), Leon Gordon (adaptation)
Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan and Neil Hamilton
Action Movies – Adventure Movies
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Tarzan and His Mate in IMDB
Tarzan, the GREATEST
Author: Ben Burgraff (cariart) from Las Vegas, Nevada
The release of TARZAN THE APE MAN, in 1932, caused a sensation. It may be hard to believe, 70 years later, but the film had much of the same kind of impact as THE MATRIX, or THE LORD OF THE RINGS has achieved, at a time when movies and radio were the major sources of entertainment. Tarzan became an instant pop icon, the ‘noble savage’ that every woman fantasized about, and every man wished he could be. The only person unhappy about the situation was Edgar Rice Burroughs, who, while he’d agreed to MGM’s creative liberties, and enjoyed his hefty royalty checks, felt the ‘dumbed down’ version of his character (with no plans to allow him to ‘grow’) was unfaithful to his vision (he would start a production company, and soon be making his own ‘Tarzan’ films). MGM, realizing the value of it’s newest ‘star’, knew the sequel would have to be even more spectacular than the original…and TARZAN AND HIS MATE delivered!
The film had an interesting back story; Cedric Gibbons, MGM’s legendary Art Director, had gotten a commitment from the studio to direct the sequel, prior to the release of TARZAN THE APE MAN, despite the fact that he’d NEVER directed before (the studio hadn’t anticipated the film’s impact, and didn’t think a novice director would matter much on a ‘novelty’ film…and they wanted to keep their Oscar-winning department chief happy). Gibbons, a prodigiously talented and imaginative visual artist, loved the freedom of pre-Code Hollywood, and decided to have TARZAN AND HIS MATE ‘push the envelope’ to the limit…Tarzan and Jane would frolic in a nude swim, and Jane would appear TOPLESS through most of the film. Maureen O’Sullivan said in an interview shortly before her death, in 1998, that while a double was used for the swim, she trusted the studio, and did ‘a couple of days’ of filming sans top…but it became too much of a headache trying to strategically place plants and fruit to block her nipples, and the idea was abandoned (the film shot those days would be worth a fortune!) She did do a nude silhouette scene in a tent, flashed her breasts at the conclusion of her ‘swim’, and donned a revised ‘jungle’ costume that was extremely provocative, very thin, and open at the sides…and the resulting outcry would help ‘create’ the Hays Office, and the self-censorship that would soon engulf the entire industry.
MGM yanked Gibbons from the production (the ‘official’ reason given was his workload as Art Director), and veteran Jack Conway was listed as the new director, to appease the critics…although James C. McKay actually directed the film, as Conway was busy on 3 other projects, including VIVA VILLA!
The film incorporated the best elements of the original (safaris, murderous tribes, Tarzan fighting jungle beasts to the death to save Jane), and actually improved on the storytelling. Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton), from the first film, returns to Africa for ivory from the ‘Elephants’ Graveyard’, and to try to seduce Jane into returning to England, with gifts of silk dresses, underwear, and perfume. He brings with him Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh), a crack shot and inveterate womanizer, who sneers at Holt’s chivalrous pursuit of Jane, and stalks her as a potential ‘conquest’, to be had by any means (including killing Tarzan, if and when he can get away with it without being seen).
Tarzan barely tolerates the intrusion into his happy life with Jane, and puts his foot down, refusing to allow the hunters into the Graveyard. Arlington finds his opportunity, catching the Ape Man alone, and shoots him, then returns to the camp with a fabricated story of his demise. Now Jane has no reason to remain in the jungle, and she can direct them to the Graveyard, before her long voyage back to England, comforted by the oh-so-sympathetic Arlington. But a savage tribe and hideous torture await the group…can Tarzan, being nursed back to health by his ape ‘family’, recover in time to save Jane?
While stock footage is again used extensively, the racial stereotypes of the 30s are apparent, and the gorillas are obviously actors in ape suits, TARZAN AND HIS MATE achieves a level of sophistication unsurpassed in any other ‘Tarzan’ film, as well as a sexiness that even Bo Derek’s blatantly erotic TARZAN, THE APE MAN couldn’t touch. Johnny Weissmuller was in peak condition, physically, Maureen O’Sullivan was never more beautiful, and ‘Africa’ never looked more romantic, and dangerous.
TARZAN AND HIS MATE was a triumph (although it would be drastically edited for many years), and remains THE classic of the series, to this day!
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Filed Under: Adventure