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TARZAN ESCAPES (director: Richard Thorpe; screenwriter: Cyril Hume; cinematographer: Leonard Smith; editor: W. Donn Hayes; music: William Axt/Sol Levy; cast: Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Maureen O’Sullivan (Jane Parker), John Buckler (Capt. Fry), Benita Hume (Rita Parker), William Henry (Eric Parker), Herbert Mundin (Herbert Henry Rawlins), E.E. Clive (Masters), Darby Jones (Bomba); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Zimbalist; MGM; 1936)

“An above average film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The third of six Tarzans that teamed Johnny Weissmuller with Maureen O’Sullivan is an above average film. It was self-censored and reshot because preview audiences disapproved of its violence, costing the studio a lot of money. Director Richard Thorpe (“Night Must Fall”/”Above Suspicion”/”Ivanhoe”)keeps things compelling except for a middle of the film lag, while writerCyril Humeturns in one of the better Tarzan screenplays.The film was supposedly directed in its early parts byJim McKay and John Farrow. Farrow was married to Maureen O’Sullivan at the time.

Rita Parker (Benita Hume) and her brother Eric (William Henry) arrive in the African jungle from London to search for their cousin Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan), who is living in the jungle with the legendary white “Ape Man,” Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), and doesn’t know she inherited a fortune from her eccentric brother. The siblings in Africa make arrangements for big game hunter Captain Fry (John Buckler) to be their guide to search for Jane in a hostile part of the jungle, known as The Mutia Escarpment, that has a few savage tribes.They want to persuade Jane to come back with them to sign the inheritance papers, or else they claim the inheritance will go completely for entomological research. The search party locates Tarzan and Jane, and Tarzan is upset that Jane is leaving him to go to England. Evil guide Captain Fry poisons Tarzan’s mind telling him Jane plans to never return and he schemes to trap Tarzan in a steel cage and get rich by bringing Tarzan back as his prisoner and putting him on exhibit in circuses throughout Europe.Tarzan will have to escape from the steel cage and rescue Jane and the siblings from a fierce tribe that captured them, as the film ends resolving all matters in a satisfactory way for the jungle couple.

Despite the big budget of over a million dollars, MGM made a big profit because the box office was great.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”