Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Cheeta gives Tarzan a kiss
TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934). Director: Cedric Gibbons.

In  this first sequel to Tarzan the Ape Man, Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton), who is still in love with Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) returns to Africa to try to get her back, as well as to get some ivory. His slimy friend, Martin (Paul Cavanagh), is broke and after ivory as well, and has no moral values whatsoever. Harry wants Jane to importune Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) to take the men to the elephants' graveyard -- which Holt was trying to find in Tarzan the Ape Man - but Tarzan won't allow the place to be desecrated -- besides, Jane's father is also buried there. Then there is an angry tribe of nasty natives who go after the party and kill many of their number after first murdering two rival ivory hunters, whose corpses are left to rot, hanging from trees and covered with crawling insects. Tarzan and His Mate is essentially a retread of the first, more interesting picture, but it is also intense and violent, and has several good scenes: Tarzan battling a truly humongous crocodile; Jane taking a sensual nude swim with Tarzan (in his loincloth); and a climactic attack by a pride of hungry lions. The original Cheeta, who appears almost man-sized, dies in the film and is replaced by a new, smaller Cheeta, who at one point, in the movie's funniest scene, rides on the back of an ostrich! Considering some of his actions, Martin's death isn't nearly horrible enough. The performances are adequate, with Cavanagh [Son of Dr. Jekyll] having the edge. Cedric Gibbons was originally an Oscar-winning art director [Mad Love] and reportedly Jack Conway and others worked on this film uncredited. Gibbons only directed this one film.

Verdict: For heaven's sake -- stay away from the elephant's graveyard. Nothing good ever comes of it! **1/2.


angelman66 said...

This one and the original are my favorites...Weismuller and O'Sullivan had such great chemistry and Tarzan and Jane were such well-defined characters. Weismuller was really the hunk du jour back then!

William said...

Recently read that the only objection some in the business had with Weissmuller was that his voice was too high, but it's not really apparent, and not that bad. It wasn't a deep bass voice, no, but hardly "squeaky," as some have claimed.