Saturday, February 27, 2016
Tarzan and the Great River (1967)
You remember those don't you? They were the books that proclaimed PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE the worst film of all time and Ed Wood the worst director. Neither is of course true. The books were an easy way for lazy film fans to dabble in cinematic badness and seem hipper than their friends. The books were fun reads but if you actually read the books you realized what absolute shit they were. Seriously they were. If you need proof consider that no one talks about them any more, the result of their pre- home video ramblings of half remembered films have been proved to be dead wrong in many things like plot and the quality of films.
That said this is one of the blander entries in the Tarzan series. Its the result of too many plot points we've seen before and a drive to be more spectacular over the need to tell a great story.
The plot has Tarzan summoned to Brazil to look into a jaguar cult in the jungle with is raiding villages and killing or enslaving the people. The authorities don't know they reason since anyone they send to find out disappears. In desperation they send for Tarzan who they feel is the only one who could stand a chance of surviving long enough to find out whats going on.Along the way he picks up a beautiful doctor and a boat captain with his young friend. The captain is played by comedian Jan Murray to mixed effect.
This is a spectacular film that looks fantastic in its on location setting. It looks like they spent a penny or two with shooting in real places. If the film flounders by inserting a shot of hippos in a Brazilian river it can be forgiven with a chuckle.
The real problem here is the script and the pacing. There isn't any thing we haven't seen before. Things just sort plod along with stock characters that have played out in earlier variations in the series and in film history. It would be fine but the pace is slack and the action sequences, which could have been exciting seem to have been put together with no real sense of urgency so some of the final battle between Tarzan and Barcuna the head of the cult comes off as 'eh" in stead of "OH YEA".
While not the absolute worst in the series it's kind of clear things were coming to an end. In truth there is a reason that the film is better known for the tale of Henry and the Chimp rather than for the film itself.
(For those who don't know Mike Henry was bitten by Dinky the chip and severely injured. He end up with monkey fever for three weeks and the animal had to be destroyed)