TARZAN’S GREATEST ADVENTURE (director/writer: John Guillermin; screenwriters: Berne Giler/story by Les Crutchfield/based on the characters by Edgar Rice Burrough; cinematographer: Ted Scaife; editor: Bert Rule; music: Douglas Gamley; cast: Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Anthony Quayle (Slade), Sara Shane (Angie), Sean Connery (O’Bannion), Niall Macginnis (Kruger), Al Mulock (Dino), Scilla Gabel(Toni); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sy Weintraub; Paramount; 1959-UK)
“Despite all the changes, this version was received well by the public.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Paramount upgrades the long-running popular Tarzan series, started in 1932 and starring Johnny Weissmuller, by shooting the 24th Tarzan on location in Africa, allowing Tarzan to speak intelligently with an increased vocabulary (returning the Tarzan speak to the way creator Edgar Rice Burrough envisioned it–of an educated man) and it has a more adult-like story (though I must say, the story doesn’t add up and makes little sense). There’s no Jane or Boy around, and Cheetah has no significance in the story and gets an early exit. Former bodybuilder Gordon Scott plays Tarzan for the fifth time, and is less stiff than in his other performances. Despite all the changes, this version was received well by the public and is an above average Tarzan in the series. John Guillermin(“The Towering Inferno”/”King Kong Lives”/”Tarzan Goes to India”)directs in a workmanlike way and cowrites withBerne Giler an acceptable screenplay. It’s based on a story by Les Crutchfield.
Diamond hunter Slade (Anthony Quayle) is an old enemy of Tarzan. Slade and three other white gang members, Dino (Al Mulock), Professor Kruger (Niall Macginnis) and O’Bannion (Sean Connery), paint themselves black and raid a jungle African settlement house, holding supplies, to steal dynamite for their diamond mine and in the process the ruthless criminals kill two adults in the settlement. Tarzan is called for help via native drums and follows their boat upstream in his canoe vowing to bring the European despoilers of Africa to justice.
Party girl pilot Angie (Sara Shane) finds the chase to be like a sporting game and follows Tarzan by her small sea plane, in the hopes of catching the show-down between Slade and the Ape Man. When her plane crashes in the water, she’s rescued by Tarzan and comes out of the accident without a scratch but also with a plane. Tarzan is now forced to take the seductress with him.
Meanwhile Slade’s men dislike each other enough to be constantly bickering and Slade’s sexy girlfriend Toni (Scilla Gabel) arouses the German professor and O’Bannion, while she pleads with Slade to pay her more attention. In his ardent pursuit of the baddies, the Ape Man picks them off one by one and meets up lastly with Slade in his secret diamond mine and has a fight to the death on a clifftop.
The film takes an unbelievable U-turn, telling us the once perceived greedy Slade cares more about killing Tarzan than the diamonds. The villain lets us know it’s all about the danger and not the diamonds, when he converses with the greedy Kruger. But, even though, the story has no jungle creds, the production values are good and the actors are superior than the ones in the usual Tarzan series and it’s easy to handle the missteps because this hokum is rather entertaining.
REVIEWED ON 10/4/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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