Overall | 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)

The Tarzan Collection

The Tarzan Collection

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Released 16-Nov-2004

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Overall Package

    This collection contains all six of the Tarzan films made by MGM between 1932 and 1942.

    The character had its origins in a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs had sold story rights and the contract arising out of this sale had been bought by independent producer Sol Lesser, but an arrangement was made where MGM could make their film first. Lesser eventually released his film Tarzan the Fearless in 1933. Burroughs himself became dissatisfied with the portrayal of his creation on the screen and so produced a serial version in 1935. Lesser made a second film in 1938.

    The common thread through all of these 1930s Tarzan films were that they starred Olympic medallists. Lesser employed the 1932 400m swimming champion Larry "Buster" Crabbe for his first film, and 1936 decathlon gold medallist Glenn Morris for his second. MGM initially considered casting 1928 shot-put silver medallist Herman Brix (later known as Bruce Bennett) as Tarzan. Brix, now 98, was chosen by Burroughs as his Tarzan in 1935. But MGM settled on the greatest swimming champion of the 1920s as their star: Johnny Weissmuller. Born in what is now Romania, he moved with his family to the United States at a young age. He began swimming at an early age, and in the 1920s he was the most famous swimmer in the world. He won three Olympic gold medals in 1924 and a further two four years later, setting 67 world records during his career.

    For the role of Jane, the young Irish actress Maureen O'Sullivan was selected. After the first three films in the series, O'Sullivan married the Australian-born writer and director John Farrow, and from then on wanted to escape the series, partly to escape being typecast as Jane and partly to spend time raising their children (one of whom was actress Mia Farrow). Each later Tarzan film would begin life having a script which ended in Jane's demise, but the final versions of these films would end up with a happy ending. O'Sullivan would not escape until MGM abandoned the series.

    After the first three films, MGM revitalised the series by including a child, Boy, played by John Sheffield, himself the son of film actor Reginald Sheffield. Sheffield would follow Weissmuller to RKO after MGM dropped the series, and would also appear in his own long-running series about Bomba the Jungle Boy.

    Each film includes a guest list of mainly British actors, usually playing an assortment of interlopers after ivory or some treasure or other. The formulaic nature of the later films spelled reduced revenues for MGM, and so they canned the series after the sixth instalment. Weissmuller went on to make another six Tarzan films for RKO before his waistline dictated a change of character. So then he became Jungle Jim in sixteen programmes into the mid-1950s, with a television series as well. Weissmuller died in 1984.

    As the series progressed, the antics of Cheta the chimpanzee became more central to the series. The Guinness Book of World Records currently lists Cheta as the oldest chimp ever recorded, born around 1931 and still living to this day. Cheta, though, was played by a number of different chimps in the early films, and I have not been able to determine which of the films in this set this record-breaking primate appeared in, if any.

    One of the most famous elements of the film is Tarzan's cry, which is a sort of yodelled yell. Both Jane and Boy had their own version of the cry. There is also the word "umgawa" which Tarzan uses for everything from telling elephants to break open the cage he is trapped in to getting Cheta to fetch his slippers. While some of the language used in the films was made up, this one comes from one of the African tribes involved in the shooting of Trader Horn and apparently means "get down". It's an instruction to an elephant, not an African-American word for the sexual act.

    The Tarzan films proved sufficiently popular to return handsome profits to MGM, and it is easy to see why. The back-to-nature lifestyle and exotic locations, as well as some remarkable animal scenes make these films highly entertaining. I'm sure the allure of a near-naked athlete and a near-naked young woman also contributed to the allure of the films. You can also see by watching these films in sequence the reasons the profits trailed away, as the plots became routine and stale. However they are still very enjoyable and well worth watching even today.

    The one problem with this well transferred set of films is the lack of extras in comparison to Region 1. That release gets some significant extras, and why they weren't included in this set is a mystery. Umgawa, Warners, umgawa.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, January 07, 2005
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 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 the Ape Man (1932)

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1932
Running Time 96:04
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By W.S. Van Dyke
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Neil Hamilton
Maureen O'Sullivan
C. Aubrey Smith
Doris Lloyd
Forrester Harvey
Ivory Williams
Case ?
RPI Box Music George Richelavie


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
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
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

    This was the first of the long-running Johnny Weissmuller series of Tarzan films, the first six of which were made at MGM. In the jungles of Africa, a small group including Parker (C. Aubrey Smith), his daughter Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) and Harry Hoyt (Neil Hamilton) venture forth looking for the Mutia Escarpment. This escarpment, which is juju to the local natives, is said to be the site of the legendary Elephants' Graveyard, where elephants go to die. This legend is predicated on the "fact" that the remains of elephants are never found in the jungle.

    Well, they find the Mutia with the help of a dying native. Attacked by a tribe of natives near the base of the escarpment, they are saved when they reach the base, as the juju scares the natives away. After a perilous climb to the top, they hear a blood-curdling cry. The cry is revealed to come from a white man in loin cloth who promptly abducts Jane: Tarzan!

    This was not the first attempt at a film based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. That distinction belongs to a 1918 film called Tarzan of the Apes, which starred a less-than-athletic actor named Elmo Lincoln. Nevertheless, a sequel appeared in the same year, and Lincoln reprised the role in a serial in 1921. Since then there have been countless incarnations of the lord of the jungle, but most people associate the role with Johnny Weissmuller.

    He was a natural for the athletic Tarzan, and despite lacking much in the way of acting ability, is convincing in the leading role. Young Irish actress Maureen O'Sullivan was selected as Jane. Her father was played by C. Aubrey Smith, a veteran stage and film actor who appeared in scores of MGM films. Forty years earlier he had captained England in a cricket Test, the first such match between England and South Africa. Neil Hamilton, a silent film star, would be better remembered today for his role as Commissioner Gordon in the 1960s TV series Batman.

    The film was initially conceived as a sequel to Trader Horn, a 1931 MGM film shot on location in Africa and also featuring Smith. That film almost turned into a disaster, but was salvaged by Irving G. Thalberg and was a big success due to the African footage. This inspired Thalberg to make a Tarzan film. The initial draft of the script picked up the story of Trader Horn, but the finished film has nothing to do with the earlier film. Except, that is, for the stock footage shot for the earlier film, which is used extensively, including some obvious process shots. Circus animals were also used. Tarzan doesn't so much swing from the vines, he has trapezes and somersaults in the air, being caught by gorillas. This scenes were done by circus performers, though Tarzan's swimming is done by Weissmuller, and he looks impressive in the water.

    The film was a big success, and reportedly Edgar Rice Burroughs was pleased with the results, despite the Tarzan character being quite different from the original books. The film is a little creaky in the way of early 1930s films, but that does not detract from its entertainment value, which is high even after 72 years. This is the first film in The Tarzan Collection, which includes all six MGM films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is, despite the cover saying it is in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, presented at 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced, though the menus are.

    I would think that this is the best this film can be expected to look given its age and the film technology available in 1931 when it was shot. It is obvious that it had a luminescent look to it on original release, as there is a glow to the film. This also means it is very soft. There are no really sharp images in the film, and the stock footage is considerably less sharp.

    Contrast levels are good, though there is some variation from frame to frame causing mild flickering. Also good is the greyscale of the film, which looks idiomatic. Blacks are not especially solid, nor are whites pure, but most viewers will make the adjustment without issues.

    I did not notice any film to video artefacts. Film artefacts are prevalent, with occasional scratches and flecks, and there is a lot of grain, but this film has been restored and looks very good for a 72-year old film.

    The film comes on one side of a single-layer, dual-sided disc, so there is no layer change. For some reason the film on the other side of this disc is the third in the series, not the second.

    Optional English subtitles are provided. These are in clear white font and are quite readable. The native lingo is not shown in the subtitles. There appear to be errors in the spelling of some of the words. For example, Mutia is rendered as Mutier, and the name of the famous chimp Cheta is shown as Cheetah.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 1.0.

    This is a reasonable transfer, with the hiss associated with films of this era being kept to a minimum. The higher frequencies are quite thin, and there is some slight distortion noticeable in the dialogue, though I believe that this is the nature of the original recording, which also has some faint crackling and the occasional pop. There is a good amount of bass present. Audio sync seems perfect.

    I did not notice much in the way of music during the film, apart from the opening credits (the music score is not credited on the film). It has a stereotypical African feel to it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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.

Summary

    A fine initial entry in the Tarzan series, well presented on this disc.

    The video and audio are good for a 1932 film.

    It is a pity that the extras available in Region 1 are not included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, December 20, 2004
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 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 and His Mate (1934)

Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1934
Running Time 99:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Cedric Gibbons
Jack Conway
James C. McKay
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O'Sullivan
Neil Hamilton
Paul Cavanagh
Forrester Harvey
Nathan Curry
Case ?
RPI Box Music William Axt
Paul Marquardt
George Richelavie


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
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
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

    Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) returns to Africa, partly in order to seek out the elephants' graveyard and partly to see Jane again. This time he is accompanied by his friend Arlington (Paul Cavanagh). After managing to avoid being killed by natives at the base of the Mutia Escarpment, they are rescued by Tarzan. But when they reveal their plan to steal the ivory from the graveyard, Tarzan refuses to help them. Arlington shoots an elephant so they can follow it to the graveyard, but Tarzan and a bunch of elephants foil their plan. Arlington decides that Tarzan must be removed from the equation.

    This film was released in 1934, two months before the Production Code started to be properly enforced. You can see that this is a pre-Code film in the first ten minutes, with a topless female native and Arlington stripping down for a bath, with only a carefully positioned trunk to protect his modesty. Jane wears a very skimpy jungle outfit, swims in the nude (though Maureen O'Sullivan is body-doubled by Olympian Josephine McKim in this sequence) and, well, Tarzan's reaction to her dressing in European clothes and wearing perfume is very amusing. None of this would have been allowed to pass the censor a few months later, and indeed the film was heavily cut even on initial release. The original negative was cut, and the original version of the film was thought lost until a print was found in the MGM archive a few years ago.

    The directorial credit went to the famous MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, but little of his contribution remains in the finished film. Shooting was suspended after three weeks and Gibbons was removed, as were several of the actors. Shooting resumed with Jack Conway and James McKay directing.

    There are some remarkable sequences in the film. Apart from the nude underwater swimming sequence, Tarzan fights with a giant mechanical crocodile, and there is a remarkable closing scene involving elephants and lions. The animal work in this film is extraordinary.

    In my opinion, this is not just the best of the MGM Tarzan films, it is the best Tarzan of them all. The script is carefully worked out with plenty of humour mixed in with the thrills, the performances are excellent, and it builds to an ending that is simply amazing. It comes on a three disc set of the complete MGM series.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is, despite the cover saying it is in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, presented at 1.35:1. There is a slight black border at the base of the frame. It is not 16x9 enhanced, though the menus are.

    The video quality of the film is very good, though not up to the standards of the later films. This is partly due to the material coming from several sources, and also the age of the film. While generally sharp, much of it is a little soft. The stock footage is particularly grainy.

    Contrast levels are good, though there is some variation from frame to frame causing mild flickering. Also good is the greyscale of the film, which looks just about right.

    I did not notice any film to video artefacts, apart from some telecine wobble during the opening credits. Film artefacts are prevalent, with occasional damage, scratches and flecks, and there is a lot of grain, but this film has been properly restored and looks very good.

    The film comes on one side of a single-layered, dual-sided disc, so there is no layer change. For some reason the film on the other side of this disc is the fourth in the series. I have no idea why this film would not be side B of disc 1.

    Optional English subtitles are provided. These are in a clear white font and are quite readable. The native lingo is not shown in the subtitles. The spelling of Mutia seems to have been corrected from that of the first film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 1.0.

    This is a pretty good audio transfer, with a little hiss which is mainly inaudible at normal viewing levels. The higher frequencies are quite thin, and there is some congestion during passages with more complex sounds. There is a good amount of bass present. Audio sync seems perfect.

    I did not notice much in the way of music during the film, apart from the opening credits (the music score is not credited). It has a stereotypical African feel to it. There is some good use of actual African tribal chants.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    No extras are provided on this disc.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

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.

Summary

    A superb sequel.

    The video and audio are very good though not ideal.

    It is a pity that the extras available in Region 1 are not included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, December 31, 2004
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 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 Escapes (1936)

Tarzan Escapes (1936)

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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 1936
Running Time 85:45
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Thorpe
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O'Sullivan
John Buckler
Benita Hume
William Henry
Herbert Mundin
E. E. Clive
Darby Jones
Johnny Eck
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
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
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

    The third entry in MGM's Tarzan series reveals that Jane has inherited a fortune, which will be shared with her cousins. This prompts the two cousins (Benita Hume, William Henry) to travel to Africa to try to find Jane and get her to return to England. In this they are helped by trapper Captain Fry (John Buckler), who wants to snare the "white ape" (Tarzan) for his circus. Jane decides to help her cousins, but she must tell Tarzan that she is going away for three months, and he doesn't understand. Meanwhile, Fry turns out to be a real blighter.

    This third episode of the Tarzan films has a slightly more articulate Tarzan, though he still spouts concepts like "guns bad". The treehouse has undergone some dramatic changes, with the addition of an elevator, air conditioning and a full kitchen. Herbert Mundin as Rawlins starts out as the comedy relief, but he is overtaken by Cheta, who is now the focus of a lot of the hi-jinks. This film also has the jarring episode where Rawlins sees the Gooney Bird, played by the legless Johnny Eck, the half-boy from Freaks.

    The problems with the film began when children in preview audiences were scared by a sequence involving giant bats. This scene had to be cut, which led to original director James McKay refusing to be involved with the reshooting. Richard Thorpe was brought in, and he would direct all of the remaining MGM Tarzan films. The film was almost completely reshot.

    This was the last film completed by legendary producer Irving G. Thalberg, who died shortly after filming ended. John Buckler, the bad guy in this film, was killed in a car accident just a week before the film was released. Herbert Mundin, whose scenes were added in the reshooting, was also killed in a car accident three years later. Jinx rumours have naturally formed.

    Due to the reshooting, the film does not hang together as well as it should. Stock footage abounds, including sequences from earlier films in the series. Despite this, and despite the obvious formulaic plot, it is still an entertaining entry in the Tarzan oeuvre. Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan would appear together in three more films, all of which are included in The Tarzan Collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film, despite the claims on the cover, is not presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, but in 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The film gets a surprisingly good transfer for a 1936 film, which helps to mitigate against the fact that it has not been restored. There is a mix of newly shot footage and stock footage. The former is sharp and clear, with a lot of detail visible. Shadow detail is very good. Contrast levels are just about right for a black and white film, with a nice range of greys visible. Black levels are nicely 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 and the occasional slight shimmer of aliasing. Film artefacts are present throughout most of the running time. These are mainly white flecks, dirt and pale scratches, though there are reel change markings at 19:59 and 39:22. There is a flurry of scratches at 21:50 and a severe splice mark at 49:05.

    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 the Ape Man on side A. Why the discs are not set out in chronological order is a mystery.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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.

Summary

    A fine if choppy entry in the series.

    The video and audio are good though not fully restored.

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

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, January 03, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 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 Finds a Son! (1939)

Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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
Studio
Distributor

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
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    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
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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.

Summary

    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)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 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's Secret Treasure (1941)

Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1941
Running Time 77:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Thorpe
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O'Sullivan
Johnny Sheffield
Reginald Owen
Barry Fitzgerald
Tom Conway
Philip Dorn
Cordell Hickman
Case ?
RPI Box Music David Snell


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
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
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

    Boy finds some pieces of gold in the river near their home - there's gold everywhere. Intrigued by Jane's stories of the value of gold in civilisation, he wanders off determined to buy himself an aeroplane with the gold pieces he has collected. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the escarpment he wanders into a village where the plague has sway, and the villagers decide that the pale-skinned boy needs to be sacrificed, and they proceed to attempt this. But just then a couple of trucks arrive, with some white hunters who rescue him. The natives, though, are not be be scared off so easily, and the safari itself needs to be rescued by Tarzan.

    In exchange for saving Boy's life, Tarzan agrees to help guide the safari through the jungle. Boy inadvertently gives away the existence of the gold, which leads Medford (Tom Conway) and Vandermeer (Philip Dorn) to plot to get their hands on the vast quantities of gold in the hills by foul means.

    The fifth of the MGM Tarzan films is more juvenile than the previous films, with Boy now acquiring a "piccaninny" companion in Tumbo (Cordell Hickman). There is still a lot of stock footage from the previous films, and still a lot of Cheta engaging in monkey business. Again, some European actors were brought in to play the interlopers, with Briton Tom Conway (brother of George Sanders) and Dutch star Philip Dorn as the bad guys. Another Englishman, Reginald Owen, and Irish actor Barry Fitzgerald play the not-so-bad guys. The latter gets to see the Gooney bird this time, in footage taken from Tarzan Escapes.

    This is not a bad entry in the series, though some of the comedy elements seem out of place. It was successful enough for MGM to make one last film in the series, all of which are included in The Tarzan Collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film, despite the claims on the cover, is not presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, but in 1.33:1. 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 in problematic condition. Shadow detail is good. Contrast levels are just about right, with well handled greyscale levels. Blacks are solid with no low level noise visible. The stock footage is very soft and has many more film artefacts visible.

    There is basically nothing in the way of transfer problems, apart from some telecine wobble and judder 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 are some reel change markings at 18:09, 36:53 and 57:18.

    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's New York Adventure on side B.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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 quite good for a film of this era.

    The music score is credited to David Snell, though apart from some "jungle" music at the beginning there does not seem to be much music in the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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.

Summary

    The comedy is starting to take over from the thrills and adventure in this lesser entry in the Tarzan series.

    The video and audio are good, although the film has not been restored.

    It is a pity that the extras available in Region 1 are not included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, January 05, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 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's New York Adventure (1942)

Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1942
Running Time 67:50
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Thorpe
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O'Sullivan
Johnny Sheffield
Charles Bickford
Paul Kelly
Chill Wills
Virginia Grey
Russell Hicks
Hobart Cavanaugh
Miles Mander
Charles Lane
Cy Kendall
Case ?
RPI Box Music David Snell


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
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
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

    This final entry in the MGM series has Boy kidnapped by one of the owners of a circus, who spirits him to New York. Tarzan and Jane (and Cheta) follow, which allows for much fish-out-of-water humour involving Tarzan getting a suit and Cheta creating more havoc than that giant gorilla did a decade earlier.

    This time the guest stars are Charles Bickford, Paul Kelly and Chill Wills. Bickford looked to be a major star in the early 1930s, but his outspoken attitude led to his relegation to minor leads and supporting roles, often as villains as in this film. Paul Kelly started as a child actor in the 1910s, and spent several years in prison in the 1930s for manslaughter. He killed his girlfriend's husband in a fistfight. She also served time, but they were married upon release and lived happily ever after, or at least until she was killed in a car accident nine years later. Kelly's hair would go prematurely white before his early death, not surprisingly. Virginia Grey plays his girlfriend. If Chill Wills sounds like he has an equine voice, there's a reason: he was the voice of Francis the Talking Mule.

    With the action moving from the jungle to "civilisation", MGM had the chance to use a lot of character actors in bit roles. Miles Mander appears as the official who helps Tarzan and Jane get a plane to America, Hobart Cavanaugh plays the hotel clerk menaced by Cheta, and Mantan Moreland is amusing as the nightclub janitor. Viewers of older films and TV might recognise Charles Lane as the District Attorney - he played Homer Bedloe on the long-running Petticoat Junction series. I specifically mention him because he is set to celebrate his 100th birthday in January 2005, although some sources suggest he may be six years older!

    The series seems to be cracking at the seams here. The film has a cobbled-together feel and loses a lot of the exoticism that made the series a success in the 1930s. There is far too much monkey business from Cheta and too little action, though what there is of the latter is quite impressive. One scene involves Tarzan climbing the Brooklyn Bridge and another has him calling on a herd of circus elephants to help him trap the bad guys. After this film, MGM gave up, with Maureen O'Sullivan wanting to take on more dramatic material and the box office receipts plummeting. RKO picked up the series along with Weissmuller and Cheta, and there would be six more films over the next six years, several of which had Tarzan fighting the Nazis. When Weissmuller started to show his age, he started a whole new series about the adventures of Jungle Jim, which was basically an articulate Tarzan in a safari suit, which ran to 16 films over 7 years. Johnny Sheffield would star in a series of his own about Bomba the Jungle Boy.

    While this is not the best in the series, it is still entertaining up to a point. It is not the sort of film that warrants repeated viewing though. It comes as part of The Tarzan Collection, which contains all six MGM films.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film, despite the claims on the cover, is not presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, but in 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The film gets a very good transfer even though it has not been restored. The newly shot footage is sharp and clear, with a lot of detail visible. Shadow detail is very good. Contrast levels are just about right for a black and white film, with a nice range of greys visible. Black levels are nicely solid with no hint of low level noise.

    There is basically nothing in the way of introduced problems in this transfer, apart from some slight telecine wobble visible during the opening credits and the occasional shimmer of aliasing. Film artefacts are present throughout most of the running time. These are mainly white flecks and pale scratches, though there are reel change markings at 20:07, 40:17 and 50:33. The image is slightly displaced at 52:46, possibly due to frames being spliced in from another source, and there is an example of moire at 13:37.

    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's Secret Treasure on side A.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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 in the soundtrack, and although the frequency range is lacking, the audio is quite good for a film of this era.

    Again, this film has a music score by David Snell, and again apart from some "jungle" music at the beginning there does not seem to be much music in the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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.

Summary

    The last and least of the MGM Tarzan films.

    The video and audio are good though the film has not been restored.

    It is a pity that the extras available in Region 1 are not included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, January 06, 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

Other Reviews NONE
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