Sunday Matinee: Tarzan’s Peril

Tarzans PerilLex Barker took over the role of Tarzan for the next five films starting with Tarzan’s Magic Fountain in 1949. Brenda Joyce returned as Jane but it would be her last time. For the rest of Barker’s run as Tarzan four different actresses would portray Jane.

Tarzan’s Magic Fountain contains with the same formula that Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan films had started. Barker spoke little English, lived in the same tree house as Jane in the jungle and would help the defenseless, save animals and kill evil white men, the usual evil poachers and the odd evil tribe generally with a herd of elephants. Cheeta the Chimpanzee would also hang around and get into many wacky situations.

Magic Fountain has Cheeta finding a crashed plane in the jungle and a journal that he gives to Tarzan and Jane. Jane realizes that the plane belonged to a long lost female pilot named Gloria James (Evelyn Ankers). Apparently an innocent man is in jail back in England and James could get him out of jail but she’s been missing for decades. Tarzan knows where she is, she’s been living in a hidden village of white people where the fountain of youth keeps everyone young there. James agrees to return and free the man, whom she marries. In the time she’s been away from the village, she has also started to look her age and James along with her new husband return to the jungle so they can go back to the village. Meanwhile evil men suspect that there’s a fountain of youth and have started looking for it. Some of the villagers are angry because James left and might tell their secret so they are looking for a fight. Naturally Tarzan has set things right.

Tarzan’s Magic Fountain sets the pace for the rest of Barker’s Tarzan movies, kind of mediocre action stories with nothing really terrible about them but nothing great in them either. The next Tarzan and the Slave Girl has Jane and a group of women kidnapped by an evil white tribe because they have a disease killing them and the King wants to repopulate his tribe. Fortunately modern medical science can save the day.

The third Tarzan’s Peril actually had shot some footage in Kenya and co-starred Dorothy Dandridge as a queen of a tribe that pisses off another tribe. Evil white men are selling guns to the African tribes and gives the evil tribe a bunch of guns to attack Dandrige’s tribe. Tarzan of course saves the day. This film was a step up from the last two films.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMO3ZSjCyqQ

Next Tarzan’s Savage Fury actually alluded to Burroughs’ novels. A Greystoke relative comes looking for Tarzan but is killed off by bad guys who then impersonate the cousin and trick Tarzan into guiding them to a massive diamond cache. The last of Barker’s movies was 1953’s Tarzan and the She-Devil which pits Tarzan against evil ivory hunters again. Tarzan thinks Jane is killed and so he gives up and spends a big chunk of the movie prisoner. Raymond Burr is one of the bad guys. Gordon Scott would take over the role from here.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.