22 June 2011



1945/ Director: Kurt Neumann/ Writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters)/ John Jacoby (writer)

Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Johnny Sheffield, Brenda Joyce, Henry Stephenson, Maria Ouspenskaya, Barton MacLane, Shirley O'Hara

Tarzan and the Amazons was Johnny Weissmuller’s ninth outing as Edgar Rice Burrough’s  and his youthful and Olympian physique of 1932’s Tarzan and the Apes have long disappeared, though he is still sturdy and imposing, as has sexy Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane. After a couple films absent of  Jane (who is abroad in her home of England, though the original Jane was America) she returns to her true home in Tarzan and the Amazons and is now played by the lovely (but not smoldering, as Ms O’Sullivan certainly was) Brenda Joyce. The film was produced by film maverick Sol Lesser and co-produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The pair would churn out the last of the great, classic Weismuller Tarzan films for RKO, from 1945 to 1954, (the latter ones starring Lex Baxter as the ape man). Tarzan and the Amazons considered by many fans of the Weismuller films to be one of the better ones technically and certainly the sets and photography are a notch above many of the earlier films. Under RKO and Lesser the Tarzan films worked on less of budget than they did under might MGM, but they films seem to look a feel more authentic for some sense, though Weismuller is obviously not inclined to want to do sit ups or skip on second helpings. Also returning is Johnny Sheffield as Boy who is getting bigger and yet is still curious and susceptible to trusting white men from the outside world.

While rafting with Boy and Cheetah, on their way to greet Jane who has returned from England, Tarzan rescues an Amazon girl named Athena from a black panther. She is injured and he must carry her all the way back to the lost city of Palmyria. It is city inhabited completely by shapely, beautiful white women, except for the high priestess, played by Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya, who is weather worn and wise to the ways of the outside world. However they trust Tarzan and so his life is to be spared for entering the forbidden city. Of course Tarzan tell Boy to stay put he follows and discovers the secret passage through the immense mountain range that surrounds Palmyria.

Tarzan and Boy later meet Jane who is accompanied by the “good archeologist” Guy Henderson and his expedition, which of course contains the necessary greed filled guides who will later do anything for gold, including throw knives in the back of pretty Amazons. The expedition become interested in a bracelet worn by Jane, which was dropped by Athena and then given to Jane by Cheetah, and link it to a lost civilization and possibly untold riches. Jane, fresh back from Britain and tainted still, argues with Tarzan that he is narrow minded and a poor judge of character after he refuses to lead the expedition to the lost city. This is enough to get boy thinking and he decides to lead the expedition there, as he has, once again, become beguiled by western people and their gadgets. The expedition is course captured and will be sacrificed but noble Sir Guy convinces the high priestess of his sincerity and she agrees to release them all. But the bad guys screw it all up and kill Sir Guy and a few Amazon girls and make off with arm loads of gold. The booty helps to slow them down enough so that they get killed off one by one and a couple wind up in quicksand while a stone faced Tarzan watched them sink.

You would have to be a fan of the Weismuller Tarzan flicks to really get into it all, and I certainly am. I watched about five of them over the last week and loved them all and will try to get a couple more reviews up over time. The movies were simple but always had a direct message about greed and honor and loyalty to the people who trust you. And of course, never trust civilized white people, just half naked ones of royal descent who now live in the jungle, or sexy ones of a lost tribe of Anglo Amazons. And of course, always trust your monkey.