Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The Tarzan Films - Part 1
(with Johnny Weissmuller and
Maureen O'Sullivan)

Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932)
Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Tarzan Films
Part 1: Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932) | Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
Part 2: Tarzan Escapes (1936) | Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
Part 3: Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) | Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942)

The Tarzan Films (with Johnny Weissmuller/Maureen O'Sullivan) - Part 1

Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932)
d. W.S. Van Dyke, 99 minutes

Film Plot Summary

The quintessential jungle adventure film told the exciting story of a difficult African trek to the Mutia Escarpment and the fabled elephants' burial grounds, where vast amounts of valuable ivory tusks were thought to be located.

An expedition searching for elephant ivory treasures was met in the wilds of Africa by ape man of the jungle, Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller). He kidnapped Jane Parker (Maureen O'Sullivan), the daughter of the leader of the English expedition James Parker (C. Aubrey Smith), and the two discovered their love for each other after she slept overnight in his treehouse (and supposedly enjoyed sex with him).

She came to know his name (with their famous "Tarzan...Jane" dialogue), and she joined Tarzan for a swim in very brief attire.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

Included some great action sequences, such as the climactic rescue from pygmy cannibals with Tarzan's stampeding army of elephant allies.

This was the first Tarzan talkie, and also MGM's first Tarzan film. It was also notable as the only MGM Tarzan film that was based upon the original "Lord of the Jungle" character in the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories.

This film introduced the chimpanzee Cheeta, and provided the Weissmuller yodel yell (produced by MGM's sound department), although the ape-call originated in a 1929 part-talkie serial (starring Frank Merrill).

The star swimmer Weissmuller was a gold medals winner in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics.

Some stock footage and jungle scenes were taken from director Van Dyke's and MGM's earlier jungle film Trader Horn (1931), the first non-documentary film to be shot on location in Africa.

Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
d. Jack Conway, Cedric Gibbons, 93 minutes

Film Plot Summary

To carry over from the previous film, Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) had left civilization and joined Tarzan (Johnny Weismuller) in the jungle treetops as an uninhibited sexually-free partner.

Her ex-fiancee Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) returned to Africa with greedy ivory hunter/poacher Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh) to search for the hidden elephant burial grounds and to bring Jane back.

Tarzan was tricked into leading them to the burial grounds, and also seriously wounded.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

It was the last of the pre-Code, uncensored Tarzan films, and therefore contained a scantily-clothed Jane and Tarzan throughout, engaging in an erotic relationship.

This was a sexy adult version, with Jane swimming nude (with underwater somersaults, performed by body double Josephine McKim) and wearing revealing, skimpy animal-skin outfits (a halter top and loin cloth).

With great action sequences (including Tarzan's water-wrestle with a giant crocodile) and a climactic rescue from man-eating lions (by a stampede of Tarzan's elephants) near a rock cliff.

Often considered the best of the Tarzan-Weissmuller/O'Sullivan films.

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