Tarzan movies have been around as long as there have been movies. But the entire jungle genre was defined by the Johnny Weissmuller series, which began in the early 30s and carried on until the end of the 40s. Like any long-running series it had its high points and its low points. But any Tarzan is better than no Tarzan. Lex Barker took over from JW with ease and seemed to have some interesting adventures. Then things got a little weird in the 60s, with Tarzan showing up in a spiffy suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. Tarzan as James Bond. Set in South America, these are wacky entries into the canon. In one of the movies Tarzan finishes off a villain in a bullring with the aid of a giant Coke bottle. Mike Henry as Tarzan has some great lines. No more the abandoned syntax of Johnny's day. This Tarzan was erudite but characteristically cryptic...
ASTONISHED PERSON: "You mean you travel everywhere
with a monkey and a lion?"
TARZAN: "I...have my reasons."
ASTONISHED PERSON (as Tarzan swops black suit for red loincloth): "You're going out there dressed like that?!"
TARZAN: "The outfit is casual but practical."
For me, as an overstimulated nipper, those old Tarzan movies and later the cartoon series, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, were the stuff that dreams were made on.
Whether he was fighting Nazis, Crocodiles, demented Rhinos, or saving Slave Girls or Mermaids,
or rescuing Boy from unscrupulous Circus owners on Long Island,
Tarzan was right up there with The Lone Ranger and Zorro and Elvis.
And I wanted to be just like him...