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

Thursday, September 29, 2016


The amazing Cheetah
TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (1942). Director: Richard Thorpe.

Hunter Buck Rand (Charles Bickford of Anna Christie) and his associates Jimmie (Paul Kelly of Zeigfeld Girl) and Manchester (Chill Wills) are in the Congo trying to capture lions for a circus. Naturally Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) objects to this, but Boy (Johnny Sheffield) is fascinated by their plane. Buck is fascinated himself when he observes how Boy can make a pack of elephants do whatever he wishes. After it appears that Tarzan and Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) have been killed in a fire, Buck takes Boy back to New York with him. But when Tarzan finds out his son is gone ... Tarzan's New York Adventure is a very entertaining Tarzan film even though it goes far, far afield from Edgar Rice Burroughs' original conception. In this film Tarzan is so stupid that he takes a shower before taking off his one good suit (which dries off in miraculous time). In the novels, Tarzan had his savage side when it was called for, but he wasn't a monosyllabic and unsophisticated dummy. The stupidest moment in this movie occurs when Tarzan gives out with his famous yell and Jane says" Good heavens -- what's that?" even though she's heard it hundreds of times. Burroughs gave Tarzan and Jane a biological son who was named Jack, and later became known as "Korak" -- the boy in this movie is an orphan. Despite all this, the movie is a lot of fun. Cheetah has so much to do in the movie that it could almost be re-titled Cheetah's New York Adventure; you certainly hear her cackle that fabricated hyena laugh often enough. The chimp's special moments include her encounter with a water cooler, and her putting a trio of elephants through their paces as if she were an orchestra leader. The pachyderms are also amazing as Boy has them put on a show for the trio from New York. The actors in this are all good, with an uncredited Mantan Moreland having a couple of good moments reacting to Cheetah on the other end of the telephone. Virginia Grey is also fine as a nightclub singer who helps Tarzan and his mate find Boy. Cy Kendall, fatter than ever, plays the head of the circus. Sidney Wagner's photography, especially those striking shots of New York, is outstanding. This was O'Sullivan's last appearance as Jane, but Weissmuller and Sheffield had a few more pictures to go. Followed by Tarzan Triumphs.

Verdict: Highly improbable but also highly enjoyable Tarzan movie. ***.
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