Tarzan on Film

 

1918-1929 1930s Serials Johnny Weissmuller Lex Barker
Gordon Scott Jock Mahoney Mike Henry Ron Ely
Other Tarzan Movies

The first Tarzan movies were silent pictures adapted from the original Tarzan novels, which appeared within a few years of the character’s creation. The first actor to portray the adult Tarzan was Elmo Lincoln in 1918’s film Tarzan of the Apes. With the advent of talking pictures, a popular Tarzan movie franchise was developed, which lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s. Starting with Tarzan the Ape Man in 1932 through twelve films until 1948, the franchise was anchored by former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller in the title role. Weissmuller and his immediate successors were enjoined to portray the ape-man as a noble savage speaking broken English, in marked contrast to the cultured aristocrat of Burroughs’s novels.

With the exception of the Burroughs co-produced The New Adventures of Tarzan, this “me Tarzan, you Jane” characterisation of Tarzan persisted until the late 1950s, when producer Sy Weintraub, having bought the film rights from producer Sol Lesser, produced Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure followed by eight other films and a television series. The Weintraub productions portray a Tarzan that is closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original concept in the novels: a jungle lord who speaks grammatical English and is well educated and familiar with civilisation. Most Tarzan films made before the mid-fifties were black-and-white films shot on studio sets, with stock jungle footage edited in. The Weintraub productions from 1959 on were shot in foreign locations and were in colour.

There were also several serials and features that competed with the main franchise, including Tarzan the Fearless (1933) starring Buster Crabbe and The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935) starring Herman Brix. The latter serial was unique for its period in that it was partially filmed on location (Guatemala) and portrayed Tarzan as educated. It was the only Tarzan film project for which Edgar Rice Burroughs was personally involved in the production.

Tarzan films from the 1930s on often featured Tarzan’s chimpanzee companion Cheeta, his consort Jane (not usually given a last name), and an adopted son, usually known only as “Boy.” The Weintraub productions from 1959 on dropped the character of Jane and portrayed Tarzan as a lone adventurer. Later Tarzan films have been occasional and somewhat idiosyncratic.

Recently, Tony Goldwyn portrayed Tarzan in Disney’s animated film of the same name (1999). This version marked a new beginning for the ape man, taking its inspiration equally from Burroughs and the 1984 live-action film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.

Since Greystoke, two additional live-action Tarzan movies have been released, 1998’s Tarzan and the Lost City and 2016’s The Legend of Tarzan, both period pieces that drew inspiration from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ writings.


1918-1929

Tarzan of the Apes (1918)

Tarzan_of_the_Apes_1918Released January 27, 1918 (US)

Tarzan did not know why he caressed her. He had never seen a white woman before.

Tarzan of the Apes is an American action/adventure silent film starring Elmo Lincoln. It was the first Tarzan film ever made and is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original novel Tarzan of the Apes. The movie adapts only the first part of the novel, the remainder becoming the basis for the sequel, The Romance of Tarzan.

The Romance of Tarzan (1918)

The_Romance_of_TarzanReleased October 13, 1918

The strangest love story ever told

The Romance of Tarzan is an American silent action adventure film starring Elmo Lincoln. The second Tarzan movie ever made, it is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original novel Tarzan of the Apes. It adapts only the second part of the novel, the earlier portion having been the basis for the preceding film Tarzan of the Apes (1918). Less popular than its predecessor due to much of the action taking place in the wild west rather than Africa, the film has not been preserved, and no prints of it are known to survive today.

The Revenge of Tarzan (1920)

Released May 30, 1920

The Adventures of Tarzan (Serial, 1921)

Released December 1, 1921-March 9, 1922

Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927)

Released April 9, 1928 (UK); March 20, 1927 (US)

Tarzan the Mighty (Serial, 1928)

Released October 29, 1928-February 5, 1929

Tarzan the Tiger (Serial, 1929)

Released December 9, 1929-March 17, 1930

1930s Serials

Tarzan the Fearless (Serial, 1933)

The New Adventures of Tarzan (Serial, 1935)

Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1937)

Released December 20, 1937 (UK); May 27, 1938 (US)

Johnny Weissmuller

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

Tarzan and his Mate (1934)

Tarzan Escapes (1936)

Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941)

Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942)

Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943)

Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946)

Tarzan and the Huntress (1947)

Released April 5, 1947 (US)

Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)

Released May 15, 1948 (US)

Lex Barker

Tarzan’s Magic Fountain (1949)

Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950)

Tarzan’s Peril (1951)

Tarzan’s Savage Fury (1952)

Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953)

Gordon Scott

Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955)

Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957)

Released April 12, 1957 (US)

Tarzan and the Trappers (1958)

Tarzan’s Fight for Life (1958)

Released March 8, 1959 (UK); August 15, 1958 (US)

Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959)

Released July 8, 1959 (US)

Tarzan the Magnificent (1960)

Jock Mahoney

Tarzan Goes to India (1962)

Tarzan’s Three Challenges (1963)

Mike Henry

Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966)

Released December 16, 1966 (UK); July, 1966 (US)

Tarzan and the Great River (1967)

Released September, 1967 (US)

Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968)

Released May, 1968

Ron Ely

Tarzan’s Jungle Rebellion (1967)

Released September 6, 1967 (US)

Tarzan’s Deadly Silence (1970)

Other Tarzan Movies

Tarzan’s Revenge (1938)

Released January 7, 1938 (US)

Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959)

Released October, 1959 (US)

Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of  the Apes (1984)

Tarzan and the Lost City (1998)

Tarzan_and_the_Lost_City-1998Released April 24, 1998

A new Tarzan for a new generation.

Tarzan and the Lost City is an American action-adventure film starring Casper Van Dien, Jane March and Steven Waddington. The screenplay is loosely based on the Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

One of the film’s producers, Stanley S. Canter, had previously produced another Tarzan film for Warner Bros., Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984).

Plot Summary

In 1913, on the night before Jane Porter’s wedding to John Clayton (also known as Tarzan), her bridegroom receives a disturbing vision of his childhood homeland in peril. Much to Jane’s distress, Clayton leaves for Africa to help. The educated explorer Nigel Ravens is seeking the legendary city of Opar, to plunder its ancient treasures. But then Jane decides to follow her fiancé, and he must protect her while trying to stop Ravens and his men.

Tarzan (1999)

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