Sunday, August 28, 2011

TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL (1950)

Lex Barker's second turn as Tarzan begins much like his first one, with Tarzan and Jane (Vanessa Brown) enjoying a casual day riding elephants in the jungle. They pass some women of the Nagasi tribe out doing chores by the river when one of them screams and vanishes. The leader of the tribe thinks that an evil spirit snatched her away, but when Jane is snatched, Tarzan goes into action, saving Jane and capturing one of the abductors. When the Nagasi try to question him, he falls deathly ill. A doctor from a nearby village diagnoses the illness as highly contagious and makes up a serum. Tarzan, Jane, the doc, his busty nurse Lola, and her lazy boyfriend Neil go to the Nagasi village to administer the antidote, then decide to head further into the jungle to find the source of the disease. It turns out that the kidnapper's village has been overrun by this plague and they're taking women from nearby villages in hopes of repopulating. The prince has his hands full: his father, the king, has just died of the disease and is about to be buried, his young son is mortally sick, and he is about to execute his high priest, who has been no help. Tarzan tries to save Jane and Lola, who have been placed in the majestic and soon-to-be-sealed tomb of the king, but winds up trapped with them; the doctor tries to save the Prince's son but finds he has lost the serum somewhere on the journey. Can Cheetah save the day?

This is less interesting than TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN, but Barker's energetic heroics and a moderately interesting cast help make this watchable. Irish actor Arthur Shields is fine as the doctor, Denise Darcel (pictured) is an enticing Lola--she and Jane have a hair-pulling, furniture-crushing fistfight--and Robert Alda and Hurd Hatfield do what they can in the underwritten roles of the boyfriend and the prince. There's a nice action scene involving an attack by camouflaged natives, and in the climax involves a pit with hungry lions. Vanessa Brown is a rather lackluster Jane, though her bullet-bra look will have its admirers. [TCM]

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