Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The Tarzan Films - Part 2
(with Johnny Weissmuller and
Maureen O'Sullivan)

Tarzan Escapes (1936)
Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

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 2

Tarzan Escapes (1936)
d. Richard Thorpe, and uncredited John Farrow, 95 minutes

Film Plot Summary

A third expedition was undertaken to the Escarpment, led by double-crossing big game hunter Captain Fry (John Buckler), who also wished to return Jane to England and 'civilization' (with her relatives so that she could share in their uncle's inheritance), and to capture Tarzan and return him as a profitable circus sideshow attraction.

On their trek, the safari was attacked by barbaric natives from the Hymandi tribe, and the group was threatened with sacrifice (by being pulled apart by trees!), while Tarzan was imprisoned in a steel cage.

After Tarzan escaped, his elephant friends came to the rescue, and the villainous Fry drowned in a swamp (where he was consumed by flesh-eating iguanas).

In the conclusion, previously misguided Rita (Benita Hume) told her cousin Jane: "...You stay here with your jungle flies, and your funny little Cheeta and all the trouble she gets into, and Tarzan. You've got the grandest possessions that any woman can have: peace and comradeship and perfect communion with a man whose whole strength is devoted to making your life beautiful. Don't you ever lose it."

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

Possibly the weakest of all six of these Tarzan films.

Much of the troubled film had to be reshot, and a lot of the footage was recycled from previous films, including from Trader Horn (1931).

The uncredited director was John Farrow, who married Maureen O'Sullivan in 1936 (one of their offspring was Mia Farrow).

Jane was now seen in a mid-thigh length outfit, to reflect the strict enforcement of the Production Code (since July 1934).

Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
d. Richard Thorpe,
90 minutes

Film Plot Summary

This fourth film introduced the character of Boy (Johnny Sheffield), a young orphaned infant found in plane wreckage by chimpanzees and Cheeta. Tarzan and Jane adopted the Boy as their own and raised him for five years (in their 'modern' treehouse with an elephant-powered elevator), until his scheming relatives arrived during a search-party and announced the Boy was due an inheritance - and they were seeking evidence that the heir was possibly dead.

In exciting sequences, Tarzan saved Boy from a leopard and a giant spider's web, a waterfall, and a charging rhinoceros, and Boy was pursued by a lion and crocodile when he went to get Tarzan's help (as Jane was severely wounded by a native spear).

In the final scene, Tarzan forgave Jane for being foolish (about letting the Boy go) and almost losing her life (Tarzan: "Jane! Jane not go! Jane not die! Jane not die! Jane all right!" Jane: "Yes, darling. Everything's all right now"), and the threesome family rode off on elephants.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

Included a beautiful underwater swimming sequence between Tarzan and the Boy (shot in Silver Springs, Florida).

Maureen O'Sullivan was expected to end her acting career as Jane in this film (with her screen death), but author Burroughs refused, and MGM had to lure her back to life (in a last minute screen recovery) with additional salary.

And because of Hays Code censorship restrictions for a family film, legally-unmarried Tarzan and Jane couldn't have a child of their own!

Boy (Johnny Sheffield) reprised his role in seven more Tarzan films until 1947:

  • Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941)
  • Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942)
  • Tarzan Triumphs (1943)
  • Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943)
  • Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)
  • Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946)
  • Tarzan and the Huntress (1947)

Then, Johnny Sheffield returned to the African jungle for a popular series of 12 low-budget B movies (from Monogram Studios and Allied Artists Pictures) as Bomba the Jungle Boy, from 1949 to 1955:

  • Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949)
  • Bomba on Panther Island (1949)
  • The Lost Volcano (1950)
  • Bomba and the Hidden City (1950)
  • The Lion Hunters (1951)
  • Elephant Stampede (1951)
  • African Treasure (1952)
  • Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952)
  • Safari Drums (1953)
  • The Golden Idol (1954)
  • Killer Leopard (1954)
  • Lord of the Jungle (1955)

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