Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Here's an oddity: a Tarzan movie made in Turkey, and outside the constraints of copyright. Years ago, a man named Camil and his family were on safari in Africa and found a treasure chest full of diamonds which they hid on Death Mountain so they could come back and claim it. But a tribe of vicious natives slaughtered the mother and father, though the young son escaped into the jungle. Now, an adventurer named Tekin has found the skeleton of the man, with notes and a map showing the location of the treasure. He goes back to Istanbul, contacts Camil's brother, and rounds up a party to retrieve the diamonds.  Tekin and Camil are accompanied by the pilot Tevik, his female assistant Netzla, her goofy friend Aziz, and a guide named Kundo. Though they all seem friendly enough, some tensions are established: Tevik is interested in Netzla though she doesn't return his interest, and Kundo is scheming with his buddies (who are following the expedition in secret) to get hold of some of the treasure for themselves. When a lion menaces Netzla, Tarzan (the Camil son grown up) comes swinging in to save her. Camil figures out that Tarzan is his nephew, so he insists on giving the jungle man a share in the diamonds. This does not sit well with Kundo who, when they find the diamonds, tries to take them all. Tarzan, however, has a say in the expedition's outcome, as does that vicious native tribe that killed off Tarzan's parents.

This sticks close to the Hollywood template for a 40s-50s Tarzan movie and in fact actually improves on at least one thing: the stock jungle footage matches up much better with the studio-shot footage, partly because the action was filmed on location—in the Belgrad Forest in Turkey—rather than on a set. The acting is about on a par with Hollywood B-acting, and Tarzan (Tamer Balci) himself fits in nicely with the others who played the Lord of the Apes (Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Gordon Scott, etc.). The usual antics are present—Tarzan fights a lion, wrestles a crocodile, horses around with a chimp, yells for his animal friends (using the original Johnny Weissmuller yell),and saves the white woman from danger. Aziz provides comic relief, and fewer of the jungle interlopers survive than usual. The title is misleading in that we never actually see Tarzan in Instanbul—in the last minutes of the film, Tarzan is seen accompanying the survivors on a ship approaching the city but we never see him land. The print I saw on Amazon streaming was in terrible shape, with lots of splices and much pixilation, but apparently it has been issued in a cleaned-up state on Blu-Ray. An interesting novelty. [Amazon]

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