Tarzan the Ape Man Reviews
Olympic champion Johnny Weissmuller was a great choice for Tarzan (my understanding is that Clark Gable was also considered ... yikes), and Maureen O'Sullivan has great chemistry with him, so what's the trouble? I ask myself, does the movie hold up? The worst of the scenes has the explorers very noticeably standing in front of stock footage of African tribesmen in the background. Ugh. The best has Tarzan battling a lion in what looks real, and we know it's not CGI. There are scenes that drag on, dashing through the jungle and bellowing his famous cry in places he could not possibly have done, such as when he's swimming, and O'Sullivan shrieking 'Tarzan' gets quickly jarring to the ears. There are other scenes that surprise us, like Jane falling off a cliff face shortly after a native has; the difference, she's on a rope, whereas his death is treated simply as property loss, with no recognition that he was a human being. We see the African porters whipped on more than one occasion to keep up. We cringe as we hear Jane trying to stop the others from shooting Tarzan by yelling "He's White!" The racism is certainly one of the film's problems, and is more than a little off-putting. The other is the plot, which isn't all that exciting, and I began looking forward to the movie ending about halfway through. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. Maybe I would have preferred the sequel, where it sounds like the sex and violence was ratcheted up a notch. I don't know. Just, meh.
Jane is cute enough, but her barely intelligible mid-Atlantic accent is grating on the ears, dah-ling. It gets old after the 7000th time. There's also an irritating feminist aspect about it. And I mean feminism, in the most annoying way possible.
However, after that nonsense, & when they begin looking for the ivory, the film really picks up. Especially when the titular character is introduced. Tarzan is a man who has been living in the jungle as a liberal for much of his life.
For living in the jungle, his hair is stylized quite perfectly. Some pretty risque wardrobe.
The use of animals is exceptional. Maybe the best in the history of film (not counting Jumanji). The special effects were pretty good for their day. Also, I detect some Return of the Jedi inspiration, here.
An annoying instance of moral equivalence once again. An ape kidnaps a woman & won't let her go. Her relatives shoot the ape. Tarzan kills the ape-killers. Apparently, we're told that the crime is no different.
Despite the adequate story, it was kind of an uneven ending.
*best scene in the movie (63 minutes in) is when Jane comes running from something, and the monkey is caught off guard and runs at her with a forearm shiver. lol. commendably, O'Sullivan doesn't break stride. Cheeta is awesome.