Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tarzan and the She Devil (1953)

After a film that was a bit juvenile and largely lacking in tension we’re back in the middle of a film that’s much more adult and filled with real tension. It’s all do to a stellar supporting cast that manages to generate real menace from a group of nasty villains.

The basic plot has Tarzan and Jane going to head to head with a group of Ivory poachers. The “brains” of the operation is played by Monique van Vooren a deadly beauty who uses her muscle Tom Conway and a truly demonic Raymond Burr to kill as many elephants as possible. Of course Tarzan is running interference and hobbles the poachers every chance he can.

The film works because the bad guys are bad. I mean really bad. Raymond Burr is evil personified, kidnapping the manpower he needs to transport the ivory at the drop of a hat. These guys and gals are so bad that tension hangs over the proceedings from the get go. We hate them from the instant we see them, before we even see them do anything. They ooze evil.

I find it funny that outside of Godzilla, until Perry Mason, Raymond Burr was primarily a villain, and a damn fine one too. His big and bulky frame worked wonders as an imposing brute of a man. We have no trouble believing he is as bad as they come and we are thrilled when he gets his in the end.

The interesting twist of the film is that at a certain point Tarzan stops being the prime mover and Jane becomes the focus. When a kidnap attempt goes horribly wrong and the tree house is consumed by fire everyone, including Tarzan, assumes Jane is dead. Tarzan slides into not caring he simply sits as the bad guys capture him and drag him along in the hope they can force him to help with the elephants. Jane meanwhile tries to find Tarzan  and once she finds out he has been captured to rescue him. Its an interesting twist that keeps what should have been a slow portion of the film interesting.

Its a good little film and a great way to remember Lex Barker in his final doning of the loincloth.

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