Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1939
Running Time 78:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Thorpe

Warner Home Video
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O'Sullivan
Johnny Sheffield
Ian Hunter
Henry Stephenson
Frieda Inescort
Henry Wilcoxon
Laraine Day
Morton Lowry
Gavin Muir
Case ?
RPI Box Music William Axt
Sol Levy

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    A plane crashes on the escarpment near the home of Tarzan and Jane. In the wreckage, Tarzan finds a baby boy who, in a fit of inspiration, he names Boy. As the parents are both dead and Boy is the only survivor of the wreck, Tarzan and Jane decide to adopt him.

    Five years pass, in which Tarzan teaches Boy the ways of the jungle. But then an expedition arrives looking for the wreck of the plane and any survivors. It turns out that Boy is now Lord Greystoke, but Tarzan and Jane pretend that he is their son. When the pretence is uncovered, Jane reluctantly agrees to let Boy be taken back by his relatives, not realising that some of them have dark motives.

    This film was originally going to be titled Tarzan in Exile, with the boy being Tarzan and Jane's natural son. They would return to England to the Greystoke estate (this name was retained for Boy in the final script and is the only time in the MGM series that this name is mentioned), only for Tarzan to be unable to adapt to civilised life. However, it was soon realised that the so-called production code would not allow a child to be born out of wedlock (because, of course, Tarzan and Jane are purely Platonic lovers), so this idea was unworkable. The script was revised, but also included a climactic scene in which Jane was killed by the natives. This was to allow Maureen O'Sullivan to escape from the role which she no longer wanted to portray. This scene was shot, but both preview audiences and Edgar Rice Burroughs himself objected, so there is a happy ending after all.

    This film introduced John Sheffield as Boy, and not only did he appear in the remaining two MGM entries, he moved with Johnny Weissmuller and the series to RKO, where he appeared as Johnny Sheffield in a further five Tarzan films. He then played Bomba the Jungle Boy in 12 more films and a television series. His entry into the series revitalised it to an extent, so that the storyline was able to be developed further. Several British actors were cast in the party attempting to find the lost plane, being Ian Hunter, Henry Wilcoxon, Henry Stephenson and Frieda Inescort. Laraine Day, who would later become a star actress through another MGM series about Dr. Kildare, has a brief role as Boy's real mother.

    As usual, stock footage from previous films is used in this one, but there is also some new photography shot in Florida of the three jungle-dwellers and a baby elephant cavorting underwater. And naturally, Cheta is along for the comedic elements. This is a good entry in the series, but you can see that the formula is starting to wear a bit thin.

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Transfer Quality


    The film, despite the claims on the cover, is not presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, but in 1.35:1, with a thin black border at the bottom of the frame. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is nicely sharp and clear, though the frequent stock footage and scenes lifted from previous entries in the series are not so good. Shadow detail is very good. Contrast levels are just about right for a black and white film, with a nice range of greys visible. Blacks are solid with no hint of low level noise. The stock footage is quite soft and has more film artefacts visible.

    There is basically nothing in the way of transfer problems, apart from some telecine wobble visible during the opening credits. Film artefacts are present, though not as severe as in previous entries. These artefacts are mainly white flecks, dirt and thin scratches, though there is a severe splice mark at 39:53.

    The optional English subtitles are reasonably accurate to the dialogue, and are well- timed in a clear white font. The characters have a dark border so that they are visible against white backgrounds. The made-up jungle lingo is not subtitled.

    The film comes on a single-layer, dual-sided disc with Tarzan and His Mate on side A. Why the discs are not set out in chronological order is a mystery.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, and there are alternative Italian and French audio tracks. I listened to the default track only.

    Dialogue is clear and distinct throughout. There is no audible hiss or distortion on the soundtrack, and although the frequency range is lacking, the audio is perfectly acceptable for a film of this era.

    The music score is much like the previous films, with no original score composed for this entry, and using just stock African-style music from the studio library.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    No extras are provided on this disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release has an additional disc, which includes the following extras:

    Region 1 is a clear winner on the extras count.


    Better put together than the previous entry in the series, this is not quite as satisfying. Still, Tarzan fans need not hesitate.

    The video and audio are good though the film is not fully restored.

    A pity that the extras available in Region 1 are not included.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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