Continuing the exploration of the Sci-Fi Chronicles book, we settle in with the most famous of Edgar Rice Burroughs creations, Tarzan. I’d previously reviewed Tarzan the Ape Man, so I jumped forward to the next title recommendation in the book, the first sequel in the successful series.
Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) is returning to Africa after his adventures in the previous film, with the intention of returning to the elephant graveyard and claiming the ivory there. He is also intent on persuading Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) to return to civilization and leave the jungle world, and Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) behind. Accompanying him is the womanizing and crack shot, Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh), who upon seeing Jane, has lustful designs on her himself.
Tarzan and Jane are living quite an idyllic life in the jungle, though we don’t get to seem until about 20 minutes into the film, and things are going well for the couple, and they seem very relaxed with who they are, so much so that Jane is quite happy to go, very obviously, skinny dipping with the lord of the jungle.
On their arrival, and meeting up with the jungle love birds, Tarzan agrees to take them to the elephant graveyard, not understanding the men’s intentions, and they set to work on trying to persuade Jane to come back to civilization with them by wooing her with dresses, makeup, perfume and the like, and though she admits to be sorely tempted, she also knows she’s happiest at Tarzan’s side.
And it’s a good thing that’s where she stands, as it seems protecting her from all the wild animals is a daily routine for Tarzan, who wrestles and fends off all comers to keep his lady-love safe. That being said, not everyone gets through the picture safely, as Holt and Martin (especially Martin) become more devious. Poor Cheta is killed by a rhinoceros while protecting Tarzan and Jane, but the first lady of the jungle adopts the poor animal’s offspring, christening it Cheta as well…
When the opportunity affords itself, Martin makes the best of trying to take Tarzan out of the picture by shooting him. When she believes Tarzan is dead, and with nothing to tie her to the jungle life she so loved, she decides to leave it behind, and head back with the party, who seem well on their way to taking all the ivory they want! As they plan to make their escape from the jungle, they are intercepted by angry tribesmen as well as a number of dangerous animals, which gives Tarzan plenty of time to run through the jungle and catch up with the hunting party, and save Jane, see that things are returned to the state they were and that those who survive have learned a lesson.
This was a strongly written (for the time), and quickly paced film, in many ways superior to the first film, and it definitely kept me engaged, but I can’t help wondering how many animals are left in the jungle if Tarzan beats up so many of them every time they go after Jane…
Lots of fun!