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TARZAN AND THE JUNGLE BOY (director: Robert Gordon; screenwriter: Steven Lord/based on the characters of Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographer: Özen Sermet; editors: Reg Browne/Milton Mann; music: William Loose; cast: Mike Henry (Tarzan), Rafer Johnson (Nagambi), Aliza Gur (Myrna Claudel), Steve Bond (Erik), Ron Gans (Ken Matson), Ed Johnson (Buhara); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Day; Paramount; 1968)

“The stilted production and wooden acting makes this one of the lesser Tarzan versions.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lensed on location in Brazil’s Amazon jungle. Director Robert Gordon (“The Joe Louis Story”/”The Gatling Gun“/”Black Zoo”)shows no skills in helming a Tarzan pic. This was the last film from the original Tarzan series started in 1932. Steven Lord’s screenplay is a joke, and the stilted production and wooden acting makes this one of the lesser Tarzan versions.

An American geologist, searching for mineral deposits, drowns in the Amazon River when his canoe tips over, but his four-year-old son Erik (Steve Bond) and his pet leopard cub survive. The National Geographic sends photographer Myrna (Aliza Gur) and her associate Ken (Ron Gans)to the Amazon, where she enlists Tarzan’s help in rescuing the wild boy orphan survivor who has lived in secret the past six years in forbidden Zagunda head-hunter territory. The lad is protected by his pet leopard, and lives in his lair. The only one ever to see the boy is Nagambi (Rafer Johnson), but he vows to kill him to get even with Tarzan who exposed him as evil to his tribal chief father and thereby Nagambi’s good brother Buhara (Ed Johnson) is chosen as the next chief of the Zagundas.

There’s some bloodshed and a mortal combat scene between the tribal brothers before Tarzan rescues the jungle boy, now known as Jukaro, and gives him some fatherly advice to return to civilization and perhaps return later as an adult geologist.

Tarzan does his usual good rescue work and Cheetah his usual comical antics, but the popularity of Tarzan at its peak in the 1920s and 1930s had fallen greatly and the series died in the movies. The series had an unhappy Tarzan portrayer, Mike Henry, who refused to do more than the three Tarzans he signed up for and sued executive producer Sy Weintraub for endangering his life. The $800,000 suit was for “maltreatment, abuse, and working conditions detrimental to [his] health and welfare.” In a previous pic, “Cheetah bit Henry and he had his chin sewn up with twenty stitches.” Also, due to the harsh location conditions, “Henry came down with food poisoning and dysentery, contracted an ear infection, and was stricken with a virus infection of his liver.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”