Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tarzan the Ape Man/Tarzan and His Mate

"Tarzan the Ape Man" and "Tarzan and His Mate" were the first two adaptations of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels featuring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in their iconic roles and are generally considered by fans to be the best. Both are extremely similar, begin with white imperialists seeking a mythic Elephant burial ground in the deepest parts of Africa, and mesh imagery with the documentary "Trader Horn". On the first film's quest they find Tarzan, a man raised in the wilds of nature who fascinates Jane, the daughter of one of the members of the safari members. After Tarzan saves the day, Jane decides to leave civilization to live with him in the jungle. The second film follows basically the same story, Jane's beau on the same mission now trying to rescue her from the wild. These two Tarzan entries are well-made and surprisingly thrilling (I actually gasped during a sequence where Jane falls off a mountain pass), but are most notable for their pre-code sexually scintillating manner of dress (or lack thereof). A skinny dipping segment in the second film almost must be seen to be believed it was made by a major studio in 1934. Much of these films are silly, but achieve their goals in providing thrilling and candid entertainment.