Harry Holt returns to Africa with his friend Martin Arlington to head up a large ivory expedition.
Pre-Code Adventure Excellence. The second of the MGM Tarzan movies should be heralded as one of the finest adventure films in cinematic history. A sequel to Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), it brings back Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan as Tarzan and Jane respectively, and then runs through scene after scene of pre-code and pre-computer effects excellence. Plot line is weak, but it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of entertainment things. Basically greedy ivory hunter Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh) and Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton as Jane's one time beau who has lost her to Lord of the Apes) travel into the jungle in search of Mutia Escarpment - the elephant burial grounds. Tarzan and Jane arrive on the scene after 20 minutes of film, which is the cue for Jane to make the two Khaki Fatigue wearing lads hot under the collar, and for Tarzan to literally have to fight for his woman - the animals - and his life! What unfolds in 105 minutes of film is a tale of simmering sexuality, raw animal instincts, brutal battles and some Simian scene stealing. Cedric Gibbons originally directed the picture, well he was there until MGM realised he wasn't up to the task and replaced him with a criminally uncredited Jack Conway, and Conway (The Easiest Way) was just the man to curl the toes of those waiting in the wings at censorship city. OK! The sexy angle is hard to ignore, and why anyone with a pulse would want to is anyone's guess! O'Sullivan is barely covered and Weismuller is in such fine shape he makes me wish I had never discovered booze and junk food! There is rumble in the jungle as Tarzan and Jane go for a swim, as he blows on her hair to wake her up (oh she sleeps in the raw by the way), and as the city boys revel in getting Jane to once again wear a "city" dress. This is just a point of reference to make us aware that the one time city girl has thrown off her sexual inhibitions and gone natural up in the tree tops. And did I mention a sexy silhouette scene? No? Well I have now. So, casting aside the wonderful eroticism of it all, as an action film it's also superb. The technical tools available in the early 1930s are used to the max here, it matters not about dummies being flung about the place, or that men in monkey suits fill in while Cheetah is off having a smoke! Or even that the back projection work will appear crude to the X-Box generation, this is film making craft that enchanted those film lovers queueing at the theatre to see this back in 1934. Watching it now demands the utmost respect and admiration. So, get ready for a native army who during their attacks specialise in firing arrows into the heads of the enemy. For Gorilla's who love to use boulders as weapons. For Tarzan to fight a lion, a crocodile and a rhinoceros. Watch in awe as there is Pachyderm Pandemonium, a pride of lions menacing our Jane, classy chimps proving smarter than your average human, and of course there are high grade gymnastics evident as well. The Hays Code would soon come into play and dilute the Tarzan series, but still being able to see these early MGM Tarzan movies is akin to going to a film museum where only the open minded are invited. Wonderful. 10/10