Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

Article #747 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-1-2003
Posting Date: 8-29-2003
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Featuring Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Johnny Sheffield

Tarzan and Jane discover a baby who is the only survivor of an airplane crash, and the rear the boy as their own. Years later, the boy’s relatives come to the jungle in search of him.

Had I watched this movie after having seen the first three Weissmuller Tarzans only, I would have mourned what would have been another step in the domestication of the character; however, after having seen TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS, I really appreciate how this one still retains enough of the savagery that made the initial entries so appealing. The characters are more complex than in that later movie, there is still that wonderful chemistry between Weissmuller and O’Sullivan (this was supposed to be her last outing as Jane, but the ending was changed), and Africa is still inhabited largely by animals and fierce native tribes, an aspect that had almost vanished entirely in the AMAZON movie. There are some powerful scenes here, particularly a moving moment when Tarzan has to keep a baby elephant from running to his mortally-wounded mother who is making her way to the elephant’s graveyard. Yes, it pales next to the first three of the series, but it’s still a richer and more resonant experience than some of the later ones. Sometimes you just need to sit back and count your blessings.


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