Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It's just another day in the jungle for Tarzan, Jane and Cheetah until they find the remains of an old plane crash with a log kept by Gloria Jones, a famous aviatrix who disappeared in 1928 and is presumed dead. Tarzan takes the log to two traders, Trask and Dodd, but when he finds out that her testimony could free Jessup, a man imprisoned for murder, Tarzan heads for the mysterious Blue Valley, where he knows that Gloria is living, to bring her back to civilization. Even though she’s 50 years old, she looks 25, and Trask and Dodd figure out that something about living in the Valley keeps folks young and healthy. They send a thuggish underling to find the Valley, but the natives, who dress in leopard skins, shoot flaming arrows across the gorge at the entrance, killing the thug. After Gloria gives her testimony, she returns with Jessup, her new husband; being out in the world has caused her to look her natural age and she wants to take Jessup to the Valley where they can live together. Tarzan is reluctant to barge in on the secret land again, so Jane decides to take them. Along the way, the two traders connive to join them. Tarzan follows in secret and gets them out of a couple of jams, then takes Gloria and Jessup into the Valley where he sees the Magic Fountain whose water keeps young. Meanwhile, Jane and the unscrupulous traders, who want to exploit the Valley, are stuck on the other side of the gorge, with flaming arrows heading their way. Can Tarzan save the day?

Johnny Weissmuller had become too old and paunchy to play a hunky jungle hero, so he is replaced here by Lex Barker, who is 30, blond, fairly handsome, and in fine shape. He's from a high society family and looks it, and he doesn’t have the somewhat primitive heft and command of Weissmuller, but he makes up for that with his lithe, athletic bearing. As for acting, that's never a talent called upon very often for the role of Tarzan, but at least Barker isn't sleepwalking through the role as his predecessor seemed to be doing at times. Brenda Joyce is a passable Jane and Evelyn Ankers is fine as Gloria. Albert Dekker brings his villainous glowering to the role of Trask, and handsome B-actor Charles Drake plays well against his usual nice-guy type as Dodd. There's a little too much time given over to chimp shenanigans, though the final joke, with Cheetah drinking some of the magic fountain water, is worth seeing. The flaming spear shooting scenes are quite effective. [TCM]

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