Tarzan And His Mate

1934, Movie, NR, 105 mins

Review

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The second MGM "Tarzan" film, a sequel to TARZAN THE APE MAN, features Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan as its eponymous pair. The story is as scant as O'Sullivan's costume: the jungle couple are living together atop the trees when O'Sullivan's civilized beau, Neil Hamilton, arrives on the scene with greedy ivory hunter Paul Cavanagh. The outsiders are still searching for Mutia Escarpment, the elephant burial grounds, and Cavanagh wounds one pachyderm in the hope that it will lead them to the grounds. When he objects to the merciless treatment of his animal friends, Weissmuller is shot and left to die. His ape companions rescue him and he regains his health, but Hamilton and Cavanagh are not so fortunate; after making it to the burial grounds, they and their bearers are devoured by lions. Stampeding elephants rescue O'Sullivan before she too becomes lunch, and the jungle lovers are reunited.

The most interesting aspect of this "Tarzan" installment is its adult appeal: Weissmuller and O'Sullivan's Tarzan and Jane are obviously living in sexual freedom as they swing through the trees. O'Sullivan's character, a formerly civilized Londoner, has thrown away all inhibitions here; she wears her revealing animal-skin outfit only so others "won't think [her] immodest," but sleeps in the nude, and one scene--clipped from the film after Legion of Decency protests--reveals her bare breasts as Weissmuller and a stand-in for O'Sullivan go skinny-dipping. Not surprisingly, the Hays Code brought about changes in later "Tarzan" films. To appease those who wanted double beds for the pair (a rather unfeasible arrangement in the treetops), a jungle house was built for them, complete with four walls and ceiling. So began the downfall of the series. Although the first talkie TARZAN was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, with Cedric Gibbons as art director, MGM finally gave in to Gibbons' wishes and let him direct here. The move proved less than successful, however, and Gibbons was relieved of his duties after a few weeks (MGM made its "Tarzan" films slowly and carefully, with large budgets and generous shooting schedules). Gibbons was replaced by the more experienced Jack Conway, who directed most of the film, but did not receive screen credit. leave a comment

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Tarzan And His Mate
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