New Miniseries! As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we'll be ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes each weekend like we're going to an old timey matinee.
We began by staring hard at Buster Crabbe's loincloth so as to avoid the acting and plotting. For chapter 2 we're moving to the main event: Johnny Weissmuller. He's the actor most often associated with the the Lord of the Apes since he played it 12 times and because he played it so well. There's a genuine guileness and in the moment feeling to his work that lets the ape man read more simple and pure than stupid, despite all the broken English. A few seasons ago on a weakly attended episode of 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' we marvelled at how erotic the pre-code Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) was . Rather than rehash that film (though it is definitely worth your time), we jump ahead to its sequel Tarzan and His Mate (1934) which some argue is the best of the dozens of Tarzan films made during the studio era. Not I, as I think it's a notch below the 1932 original but in truth that's splitting hairs. The two films cling to each other as tightly as Jane holds on to her swinging man. More than most Tarzan films it's a direct sequel, constantly referencing events, locales, and characters from the original film.
When we left the jungle couple in 1932, Tarzan was already getting (ahem) good with his tongue. When audiences returned to see the next adventure in the Spring of 1934, Hollywood's "Pre-Code" era was ending. The code began to be rigidly enforced that year which meant there was one last burst of racy sexy times in the cinema that year for films that had already been shot. [More...]