The movie opens with a loving couple and their baby flying over the jungles of Africa when their plane develops engine problems and it crashes. Their little baby was the only survivor of the crash and is quickly rescued from prowling hyenas by a group of chimpanzees. Cheeta, everyone’s favorite comic relief chimp, chases off the apes that rescued the baby, and brings the boy home to Tarzan. I'm guessing Cheeta wanted to take credit for the rescue or something, it's the kind of asshole thing that chimp would do.
Jungle 911Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) is thrilled with the idea of having a baby, and without the hassle of labor pains or stretch marks being a huge bonus, and so they decide to adopt him/not tell anyone. Now I can totally see Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) going with the “finders keepers” morality here but not Jane, sure we get some lip service from her on how when they went to the crash site and discovered that the Zambeles, a local head shrinking tribe, had taken the bodies of the men and any clue as to the boys identity. Yet at no point does Jane suggest taking the baby to the nearest trading post and notifying the authorities of the crash and its infant survivor. Jane’s decision making processes are questionable throughout this film. After having the child for a week she decides they really need to give him a name, and after pooh-poohing Tarzan’s first suggestion of “Elephant” she agrees with his naming of the child...Boy. I’m sorry but even in the male dominated sexist era of the late 1930s no woman is going to allow a child to be named Boy.
It’s just another example of Tarzan being portrayed as bit of a simpleton.I’ve mention in past reviews that Jane’s failure to even try and improve Tarzan’s language skills makes little to no sense, they're in the jungle together for years and he can still barely speak broken English, but now it’s compounded by a five year jump where we meet Boy, now older and swinging in the trees with good ole dad, and he can’t speak English any better than Tarzan. So not only did Jane cave in on the giving their kid an idiotic name, but for some reason she also decided that teaching the child her native language was a waste of time. You’d think she’d want to have at least one other person in the neighbourhood capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation that does not include the word ungawa.
Jane doesn’t even have a book club to help pass the time.A shadow falls on their idyllic life in the form of another safari, only this one isn’t looking for the elephant’s graveyard, but they are relatives looking for survivors of the crash. Why it took the family this long to start looking for the plane crash is never really explained, but it turns out that Richard Lancing, Boy’s real father, was the favorite nephew of Lord Greystoke, and now Boy (Johnny Sheffield) is worth millions.
Note: In the books we know that Tarzan’s real name is John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke, but as this movie series never gave us an origin story for Tarzan the writers here, for some bizarre reason, decided to use Tarzan’s real name for his adopted son's backstory.
The search party consists of Sir Thomas Lancing (Henry Stephenson), Austin Lancing (Ian Hunter), his wife Mrs. Lancing (Frieda Inescort), and Mister Sande (Henry Wilcoxon) who is in charge of the search. They are a bit put out when Tarzan drops in, smashes their guns and tosses Austin around, but then Jane shows up and explains that this is due to Tarzan’s distrust of guns. The Lancings would really like Tarzan and Jane's help in finding answers.