Monday, February 11, 2013


In an African village, four white men in disguise as natives steal supplies (including explosives) from a field hospital; a radio operator and a doctor are killed but not before one of them whispers the name "Slade." Tarzan (Gordon Scott, at right) has past experience with the diamond smuggler Slade (Anthony Quayle) and decides to go after him. Tagging along but not welcome is a cocky blonde pilot named Angie (Sara Shane); she follows in her plane but crashes into a river where Tarzan has to wrestle a crocodile to save her. The rest of the film shows the deterioration of the bad guys, partly due to jungle mortality (a cheetah kills the boat captain) and partly due to loss of trust and bonds a la TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE—with some distrust sparked by the presence of Slade's sexy girlfriend (Scilla Gabel)—as Tarzan catches up with them, leading to an exciting (if slightly overlong) confrontation between Tarzan and Slade on a high cliff.

This Paramount production is the first Gordon Scott Tarzan film I've seen (another one is coming up soon) and it has much less of a kiddy-matinee feel than the previous MGM and RKO films. There is no Jane (and Angie is not a serious love interest), Cheeta the chimp is barely seen, and Tarzan calls no hordes of elephants to save the day (though he does use his famous yell once, at the climax, to great effect). There are several deaths, startling but not graphic, the best one being when a character falls into a pit full of pointed-upward spears meant for Tarzan. Tarzan himself kills one man point blank with a bow and arrow and is similarly wounded. Scott has a good physique and with his bedroom eyes is perhaps the most handsome Tarzan of all. He also speaks in complete sentences, though he generally remains a man of few words. Quayle, a highly regarded British character actor, makes a good villain, and Sean Connery (at left), a couple of years before he became James Bond, makes a strong impression as another of the baddies. Though not all critics agree with me, I found Shane's Angie irritating and unlikeable, and could have used less of her. It was filmed on location in Africa, though there are still obvious cutaways to stock footage now and then. A solid entry in the Tarzan series, and one which made me seek out more Scott. [DVD]

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