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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950) – Review

Tarzan and the Slave Girl is the second outing with Lex Barker as the Ape Man and though the series still relies much on studio backlots it actually has more fantastical elements than what were seen in the Weissmuller movies.In Tarzan’s Magic Fountain our heroes encountered a hidden valley that had an elixir giving fountain of youth, and in this installment Tarzan must do battle with a lost outpost of ancient Egypt. Two things not at all that uncommon in the Burroughs books.


This movie begins with Tarzan (Lex Barker) and Jane (Vanessa Brown) hearing a scream while wandering via elephant though the jungle. When they stop to investigate they discover that a local tribeswoman has been abducted. Her superstitious people put her disappearance down to “dark spirits” but it only takes Tarzan a couple of minutes of jungle lore deduction to figure out she has been kidnapped. Along with a couple of tribesman, Tarzan tracks down the kidnappers. After a brief altercation, the abductors escape with the girl. It wasn’t a clean getaway as Tarzan managed to cut up the face of one of the villains and capture another.

Today’s villains borrowed wardrobe from a Flash Gordon serial.

Before Tarzan and the angry villagers can interrogate their prisoner, Jane discovers that the man is deathly ill with a very contagious disease. She quickly sends Tarzan to fetch Dr. Campbell (Arthur Shields) who, with the help of his voluptuous nurse Lola (Denise Darcel) and drunken big game hunter Neil (Robert Alda), put together a rescue party. Because hunting down kidnappers is man’s work Tarzan tells Jane to take Lola to their treehouse for safekeeping.  Unfortunately, it turns out that Lola has got the hots for Tarzan and Jane has to put her in her place.

Jungle Catfight.

After losing her fight with Jane, Lola runs off into the jungle only to be immediately captured. When Jane swings to her rescue she is promptly captured as well. Not Jane's finest hour, and she is basically a damsel in distress through out.  It seems that a lost civilization of people called Lionians who, surprise surprise, worship lions and are currently on a slave run to replenish their population due to this deadly disease plaguing their people. The leader of the slavers, Sengo (Anthony Caruso), targeted Jane because of Tarzan carving up his face.  Some people take facial maiming so personally.

That all the captured native girls are white is a bit odd.

This may not be the best Tarzan movie, but it is chock full of a lot of fun stuff; Tarzan and the safari must fight off blow-dart wielding camouflaged native allies of the Lionians, Jane and Lola will get entombed alive, we meet a sad Prince who has a dying son, Tarzan will single handled take on the Lionians warriors, people will be sacrificed to a group of man eating lions, elephants will come to the rescue, and Tarzan will of course give Sengo his comeuppance. Overall, this movie has everything one expects in a jungle adventure.


Luckily there are no giant apes to give them a hard time here.
This was Vanessa Brown’s only outing as Jane; she only took the part because she needed rent money, "My intellectual friends said, 'My God, what you won't do for money.'” Lex Baxter gets to a lot more this time out and seems to have settled nicely into the role and has some really nice action moments.  The comedy bits with Cheeta are limited to one drunken ape scene and him bashing Lionians on the head with a club during the big finale. This film does contain two of the big standards found in the early Tarzan films and that is elephants coming to the rescue and native bearers in a safari dropping like flies. Though to be fair, if you’re not Tarzan or Jane there is a good chance you are going to buy it when visiting the Africa of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Happily Ever After.

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