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Thursday, April 14, 2016

A New Tarzan Swings Aboard


Lex Barker's Jungle Debut is Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1947)

Sol Lesser's unveil of a new Tarzan, Lex Barker, still with the broken English, but progressed from Weissmuller, and trimmer in the bargain. Jungles amount still to a backlot and hospitality extended by tropical Southern Cal; you could rent enough animals around town to scrape by. The Dark Continent must have been choked with "lost civilizations": I'm beginning to think they outnumbered the found folk. This time, a fountain of youth is contested goal, but we never see anyone bathe in it, other than Cheetah's fadeout swig played for a laff. In fact, there is surplusage of funny monkeys here, Lesser knowing his audience and aiming (down) for it. Some nice matte work lends stature, effort made to spike the series now that a fresh vine-swinger was aboard. The Tarzans sat top-of-the-bill in most situations; this series wouldn't sink to "B" level until Paramount-poor ones with Mike Henry, and Ron Ely paste-ups from TV. Tarzan's Magic Fountain did a more than respectable $1.8 million in worldwide rentals, its foreign receipts ahead of domestic per custom for these. One reason Tarzan sustained so long was oversea biz a shoo-in, the Ape-Man travelling better than almost any action figure Yanks had developed.

16 Comments:

Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

I disagree with your surplusage of funny monkeys. There can never be enough funny monkeys!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Back in the sixties, my brother and I gobbled up all Tarzan's adventures on TV (and even a couple of kiddie matinees courtesy of Jock Mahoney and Mike Henry). Alas, in our estimation, Barker was dead last in the jungle man hierarchy, the Joe DeRita of screen Tarzans, if you will. Even by our very lenient standards, he seemed to be sleepwalking through the last couple of entries. Of course, decades later step-daughter Cheryl Crane would declare he was more creepy than sleepy but that's another story.

9:25 AM  
Blogger b piper said...

A friend of mine referred to Barker's Tarzan as "the pretty one."

12:27 PM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

After Johnny W., Gordon Scott was a great Tarzan.

3:31 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

I'd vote Gordon Scott as best of ALL the Tarzans.

3:34 PM  
Blogger phil smoot said...

If only we could have Tarzan's Greatest Adventure restored and on Blu-ray. It is a movie that lives up to its title.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

I nominate Herman Brix. His take on Tarzan appears to be closer to author (and producer) Burroughs's conception of the ape man, with the jungle lord speaking in complete sentences and handling any and all perils of the wild with dispatch.

6:08 AM  
Blogger MikeD said...

I didn't know who Tarzan was when I saw 'Tarzan's Greatest Adventure' as a 7 year old. It had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Gordon Scott gets my vote as the best Tarzan on the basis of 'Greatest Adventure' and 'Magnificent'. I must have gone to the theater to see the co-feature but I can't remember what it was. 'Tom Thumb' maybe? I wandered into another nail biter around the same time, 'Edge of Eternity', the same way. Went to see the co-feature, another I can't remember.

9:11 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

I agree with Gordon Scott as the best Tarzan. I thought everyone here would be all over me for not picking Johnny Weismuller. So...Here's to Gordo, who even vanquished a future James Bond.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Glad to see TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE and TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT getting positive recognition. They deserve it. They're great movies.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Bill O said...

Read somewhere, that after Greatest Adventure, Connery was offered Tarzan. Dunno why they were so eager to dump Scott, finally giving it to Jock Mahoney.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Scott's contract with producer Sy Weintraub expired after shooting TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT. Weintraub wanted Scott to continue, but on a feature-to-feature deal. During that time, producer Dino De Laurentiis offered Gordon a more lucrative multi-year deal to make sword and sandals pictures in Europe. So Gordon went that way. That's what Gordon told host webmaster McElwee and me the weekend we drove Gordon around Burbank.

As for Connery offered the role, I doubt that happened. As planning began for the next Tarzan feature, social and political problems in Kenya prohibited the shooting of the upcoming Tarzan feature there, so there were delays before things could be worked out to lens the movie in India. By that time, Connery was signed with Albert Broccoli to make DOCTOR NO.

Gordon said that as soon as he turned down the opportunity to return, Weintraub signed Mahoney, who had impressed him in MAGNIFICENT.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Richard KImble said...

Scott may have made the best Tarzan films, but he wasn't much of an actor. As for Mahoney, he seemed more like a middle-aged businessman taking an exotic holiday (which reminds me of 'Tarzan and the Valley of Gold', with nattily-attired Mike Henry flying into Mexico City and asking somebody to get him a loincloth).

I've recently been watching Mahoney's short-lived 1958 western series 'Yancy Derringer', which is an underappreciated gem. Set in 1868 New Orleans, it's like a better-produced 'Bat Masterson' and features Mahoney as a colorful gambler who fights baddies, charms the ladies, and does at least one impressive stunt per episode (he's especially good at jumps). It was certainly Jock's finest hour.

3:34 AM  
Blogger Bill O said...

To his immense credit, Mahoney finished Tarzan's Three Challenges while suffering from dysentary wasting away onscreen from a drop of 45 pounds. Burt Reynolds' Hooper has Brian Keith playing a veteran stuntman "Jocko".
When Ron Ely visited Mahoney in the hospital, He told Ely that he had played a role he wanted - Doc Savage.

5:54 AM  
Blogger Mick A Design said...

While no Lex Barker, Mahoney was recently mentioned during a Sally Field interview (doing press for her "Doris" movie) as a being "verbally abusive" stepdad.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Bill O said...

In his new book, Burt Reynolds said he felt that relationship was in some way abusive.The reason, I Guess, that he never hired Mahoney.

6:12 AM  

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