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Johnny Weissmuller was the best Tarzan ever. Many fans, myself included, have been waiting for his remaining "Tarzan Adventures for years...and finally these RKO treasures will be available. My all-time favorite is Tarzan and the Amazons, followed by Tarzan Triumphs and Tarzan's Desert Mystery...the remaining 3 are a bonus in this incredible collection. I already own the MGM collection and watch them often....the transfers look great.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Weissmuller's Tarzan at RKO; Less Pretentious, Great Fun!Oct. 20 2006
Benjamin J Burgraff
- Published on Amazon.com
While Tarzan was a moneymaker at MGM, with the outset of WWII, the studio felt Johnny Weissmuller was getting too old, Maureen O'Sullivan wanted out of the series, and the overseas market was lost, so the series was dropped...but RKO would prove the Ape Man had a LOT of life left in him!
Producer Sol Lesser loved the character, and snapped up the rights, wisely keeping Weissmuller, 39, and 'Boy' Johnny Sheffield, at nearly 12, in their signature roles. 'Jane' was written out of the first two features (first caring for her mother, then serving in the war), and the best-loved elements (superhuman heroics, comedy from chimp co-star, Cheetah, wild animal footage) were 'beefed up', dropping the romance, the atmospheric black 'extras', that provided authenticity (but were expensive for a smaller studio to maintain), and the MGM 'glossiness'. Even the Tarzan 'yell' had to be replaced (as the manufactured howl, part Weismuller, part studio magic), was the property of the studio; Weismuller created a 'new' one, that would become so popular that it would be kept, long after he finally retired from the role.
The first RKO entry was perhaps the best of the series; TARZAN TRIUMPHS brought the Nazis into the jungle to tap the resources of a 'lost' city, kidnapping Boy, and leading the previously isolationist Ape Man to utter the famous tag line, "Now Tarzan make war!" With lovely Frances Gifford as a native princess, and Sig Ruman, moving from Marx Brothers' foil to one of Hollywood's busiest 'Nazis', as one of the villains, the film is very entertaining (if extremely violent...Tarzan encourages the locals to grab a gun and kill, Boy shoots one Nazi soldier with a pistol, and even CHEETA machine guns one!).
TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY again offered Nazis (Otto Kruger, who'd played a similar role in Hitchcock's SABOTEUR, a year earlier, and veteran screen baddie Joe Sawyer), an American girl magician (vivacious Nancy Kelly), and a chance to combine Nazi duplicity with an 'Arabian'-themed adventure (which was a popular genre during the war years). Even a fantasy element was tossed in, as giant lizards and a mechanical spider 'passing' as 'prehistoric' appear in a 'lost jungle' climax.
TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS is closest in 'style' to the earlier MGM 'Tarzan' films (offering a crocodile fight, a 'classic' safari with many more black extras than in any other RKO 'Tarzan' feature of the era, excellent production values), and is most famous for introducing American Brenda Joyce, 33, as the new 'Jane', back from the war. Blond and beautiful, she lacked O'Sullivan's intellectual 'spin' to the role, but worked well with the 41-year-old Weissmuller, while providing a mother figure for 'Boy' that the 'kid' audience could relate to. With a cast of terrific character actors (including Henry Stephenson, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Barton MacLane), and a plot involving a 'lost' city of women, the film is one of the best-remembered RKO entries, and great fun!
TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN marked the beginning of the decline of the RKO series; a routine, even silly tale of a cult (dressed in cheesy leopard skins) and it's high priestess (buxom Acquanetta) terrorizing the local population, and capturing Tarzan and his family. Memorable only for Cheeta saving Tarzan, yet again, and seeing 'Boy' Johnny Sheffield in the midst of puberty...
TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS suffers from a low budget and a ho-hum plot; entrepreneur Patricia Morison's greedy crew kill a 'lost city' king to exceed their animal 'quota' for zoos, bringing out an aging Tarzan and startlingly adult-looking Boy; this would mark Sheffield's last appearance in the role.
TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS, Weissmuller's final Tarzan appearance, is a truly surreal entry; filmed in Mexico, with musical interludes, the plot features an Aztec temple complete with a 'god', and cliff-diving (in AFRICA???), and is best remembered for lovely Linda Christian (Tyrone Power's future bride), as a runaway native girl, and a musical score by legendary Dimitri Tiomkin. Weissmuller looks middle-aged and heavy, and would be replaced, in the next film, by young Lex Barker.
A mixed bag, to be sure, but great fun, at it's best, and certainly worth owning!
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
TARZAN AT RKO STUDIOSAug. 18 2006
Stephen M. Leiker
- Published on Amazon.com
As Sean Connery is the definitive James Bond so goes for Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. Now were at RKO Studios and Maureen O'Sullivan has left but Johnny Sheffield stayed on as 'Boy'.
TARZAN TRIUMPHS 1943 Stars our princess Francis Gifford, known by all as JUNGLE GIRL in the Republic serial (1941-see my review). Cheetah has a great bit at the end. This is probably the best of the RKO series. Tarzan v.s. NAZIS part one.
TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY 1943 Stars Nancy Kelly and Otto Kruger. It's Tarzan v.s. NAZIS part two.
TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS 1945 Introduces Brenda Joyce as 'Jane' and includes Maria Ouspenskaya (WOLFMAN) as the Amazon Queen. No more Nazis here.
TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN 1946 OK escapism but you can tell all involved are getting weary.
TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS 1947 Probably the weakest entry but....
TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS 1948 The last of the Weissmuller Tarzans. The stand out here is Linda Christian, ZOWIE !!!!
As a footnote the next was TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN with Lex Barker in 1949 with Brenda Joyce and Evelyn Ankers (WOLFMAN) and a pretty good Tarzan movie--maybe it will kick off the next collection (post Weissmuller Tarzan ???).
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Finally the RKO Tarzan films arrive on DVD!Aug. 29 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
I have been waiting a long time for some of the wonderful Tarzan films in this collection. My guess is that most people believe that the Tarzan films from MGM are superior to those released in the 1940s by RKO. I may be in the minority, but to me the RKO Tarzan films were a lot more fun. Johnny Weissmuller was still on hand, as well as Johnny Sheffield as Boy. Tarzan Triumphs (1943) with Frances Gifford, has Tarzan up against the Nazi's and is highly entertaining. Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943) is great over-the-top fun as Tarzan, once again, deals with Nazi's and some giant monsters and devouring plants. My two very favorites are Tarzan And The Amazons (1945) with Maria Ouspenskaya as the diminutive Queen of the Amazon women and Tarzan And The Leopard Woman (1946) with Aquanetta. At this time, the very likeable Brenda Joyce had joined the cast as Jane and does an admirable job in the role. The two lesser efforts complete the collection: Tarzan And The Huntress (1947) and Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948). If you enjoyed the first box set, this set will not disappoint!
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
GREAT FILMS FROM MY CHILDHOODSept. 8 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
I was born in 1954, and grew up watching these exciting films on local TV. Johnny was my childhood idol and one of the biggest thrills of my young life was meeting him in person in 1967. IMO,the Weissmuler/Tarzan films are the greatest movies ever made for boys. I bought the MGM box set when it was released in 2004 and anxiously awaited the release of the RKO series. I ordered this set late Friday, just before midnight, and received it today(October 31st) on the offical release date. Is Amazon fast or what?!! I haven't watched the films yet. I've just been skimming thru so far. Both the video and audio seem clear and crisp. I would've given the set five stars, except for the exclusion of any special features. It would have been fabulous to have interviews with Johnny Sheffield and Brenda Joyce. The MGM set had several good extras and I'd hoped this set would as well. You'd think they would have at least included the trailers. Oh, well. But, it's great to finally have the films on DVD. BTW, I was happy to see that the discs are secured to the folder in a better way than the MGM set. Just recently, the small plastic tab that holds the bonus disc broke off on my set. The RKO tabs are designed in a manner to prevent that.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The further adventures of Tarzan and friendsAug. 10 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Although there have been plenty of other versions of the character, probably the classic movie version of Tarzan is Johnny Weismuller's portrayal in a dozen movies in the 1930s and `40s. The first six of these films were made by MGM (and are in a different set); RKO took over the franchise then and made the final six.
If you watch all twelve films, you can easily see differences between the two sets. Most notably, the MGM films had Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane. In the first two RKO films, Jane is in Europe while Tarzan contends with Nazis, and in the last four, Jane is played by the good-looking but clearly second-string actress, Brenda Joyce. Gone in the second set is Tarzan's famous yell; all we get is a lesser imitation. The later movies often have Tarzan, Jane and Boy seeming like a jungle version of the Cleavers or the Nelsons. The films aren't bad, but let's face it, compared to the MGM films, they're second-rate.
On the first of the three discs are Tarzan Triumphs and Tarzan's Desert Mystery. In Tarzan Triumphs, Tarzan reluctantly gets involved in WWII when Nazis take over a hidden city. (There are lots of hidden cities in this set, and though all these movies take place in Africa, there is an amazingly small number of Africans.) Due to a flaw on my DVD, I couldn't view Tarzan's Desert Mystery, but my understanding is it's a second WWII flick.
When Jane returns in Tarzan and the Amazons (on disc two), she doesn't do too much. Instead, it's up to Tarzan to save a lost kingdom of Amazonian women from greedy treasure hunters who learn of them from Boy. Tarzan and the Leopard Woman is somewhat unique in that the villains are not motivated by greed or power as much as they just want to get rid of British colonizers.
The final disc has Tarzan and the Huntress, the last movie with Tarzan, Jane and Boy; by this point, Boy is almost an adult himself and by the next movie, he'll be off in England for school. The huntress in this story is the head of an expedition to capture animals for zoos. While she is relatively decent, her companions are more ruthless. Tarzan and the Mermaids is a forgettable finale, with Tarzan helping expose a false god in a beach community.
With no extras to speak of, this set has to succeed on the merits of the films themselves, and while they are mostly fun and inoffensive, they are also strictly average fare, so I have to give this set three stars. With plenty of antics by Cheetah and relatively tame levels of violence, this set probably would appeal more to kids than adults.