Continuing with the adventure movies reviews...
Tarzan the Ape Man (1932; W.S. Van Dyke)
Who's in it: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, C. Aubrey Smith
What is it about: While searching for an elephant graveyard with her father and crew, Maureen O'Sullivan meets Tarzan in the African jungle and they live happily 5 movies after...
The good: Obviously the story by Edgar Rice Burroughs of a man growing up with apes is incredibly interesting, so kudos just because of the plot. Maureen and Johnny are great together; her Jane is an independent woman with good humor that goes from being hysterical and screaming like an old nuts in Tarzan's presence, to appreciate and love him. Johnny --an Olympic medal winner swimmer-- is simply great as Tarzan: incredibly athletic, handsome and with a childlike personality.
The film shows an exciting adventure scene after another (walking in dangerous paths, fighting with savage animals, escaping from natives with killer instincts, etc) and I don't mind if the big monkeys were actually people in costumes or if Tarzan sometimes clearly uses a trapeze bar instead of vines.
I also liked the fact that the characters are not stereotyped: Jane's dad is sweet but also greedy (at the point of risking his life), the macho guy (played by Neil Hamilton) really loves Jane and is sweet to her but also has an aggressive side (beats the slaves when they are tired), etc.
And of course, Cheeta, the chimpanzee, is always great to watch, with all her humanlike behavior and great "acting".
The bad: I didn't like some parts for very subjectives reasons (yes, even more subjective than the whole review). First, I never understood why some scenes with the animals are in fast motion, that always distracts me. Also, before The charge of the light brigade animals where treated with cruelty, so while watching the scenes with elephants, lions and hippos I wondered if they were actually suffering or being killed. And even more importantly, the way the natives are shown is really shocking, especially the aggressive pygmies (that enjoy watching how a gorilla kills people) played by white people in black faces.
Should I see it? Yes, despite some shocking scenes, this is a great adventure movie (now I want to see Tarzan and his mate)
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