A Life's Journey Through the World's Print Media
A Collection of newspaper clippings and articles from
Chicago to Tarzana ~ around the world ~ and back to Encino/Tarzana
WEISSMULLER SWIMS TO THE FILMS
Did Johnny Weissmuller fight lions and baboons in making "Tarzan, the Ape Man"?
The knowing ones among movie critics talk of "double exposures," "arranged jungle thrills," and "fake shots." But the picture is real enough "for lads and lassies and mayhap a few parents to believe that Johnny Weissmuller took his life in his hands when he agreed to act in this jungle feature."
Mordaunt Hall (New York Times), saying this, shows he isn't fooled; but John S. Cohen, Jr. (New York Sun) calls it "a first-rate show," and says he "enjoyed it more than "Trader Horn," which ever and anon seemed to take itself seriously."
But this "Johnny Weissmuller is the ideal choice, representing, as he does, the movie maiden's prayer for a cave man, ape man, and big fine fig-leaf-and-bough man. Tall, built like a Greek stature."
The film's virtue, in the eyes of Thornton Delehanty (New York Evening Post), "is that it no more takes itself seriously than Lewis Carroll asks you to believe that Alice really went down that rabbit hole." And here is more:
"Whereas 'Trader-Horn' made a grim effort to impress you with its fidelity, this 'Tarzan' is a frank and exuberant frolic in the imaginative literature of the screen.
"It even has a way now and then of slyly making fun of itself, a ruse so disarming that you are tempted to enjoy the picture most when you are believing it least.
"There should be no necessity of recounting the plot of 'Tarzan' for this character, I am told, has been made familiar to millions of readers of the Edgar Rice Burroughs tales.
"However credible or interesting Tarzan may be on the printed page, I doubt very much if he emerges in such splendor as he does in the person of Johnny Weissmuller, the swimming champion.
"As Tarzan, Mr. Weissmuller makes his bow to the movie-going public, and as Tarzan he will probably remain bowing through a whole series of these pictures, even tho the public may clamor to see him in Clark Gable roles.
"There is no doubt that he possesses all the attributes, both physical and mental, for the complete realization of this son-of-the-jungle role. With his flowing hair, his magnificently proportioned body, his catlike walk, and his virtuosity in the water, you could hardly ask anything more in the way of perfection. And for the portrayal of Tarzan, nothing short of perfection would be admissible."
Fame as a champion swimmer may help Mr. Weissmuller to the eminence he seems bound to achieve, but his acting qualities will also help. A subtle touch of the animal nature in Tarzan is indicated in his frequent quick turning of the head, in his alertness in the presence of danger. It was something shown by Nijinsky in his impersonation of the Faun. Athletically, he competes with exalted predecessors:
"Not even Douglas Fairbanks in his palmiest days ever had to submit to such strenuous acrobatics, nor in such variety. During the course of the picture WEissmuller not only performs solo flights over the tree tops, but he actually takes Maureen O'Sullivan along with him on one or two of these dizzy rides.
"Yet these exploits are as nothing compared to what happens when he gets on the ground.
"Single-handed he attacks lions and tigers; he leaps off a tree onto the back of a waterbuck and throws it with one twist of the neck; he makes a herd of elephants as subservient as a troupe of trained fleas.
"We have known people who could get the squirrels in Central Park to eat out of their hands, but it takes a Johnny Weissmuller to go for a ride on the back of a swimming hippopotamus.
"As the English girl who has gone to Africa with her father in search of treasure, Maureen O'Sullivan gives one of her most charming performances. One can understand why Tarzan swings her around that way in the trees, and why he calls out his elephant friends to save her when she is about to be devoured by a horrible gorilla. She helps to make this infatuation of Tarzan's the most plausible thing in the picture."
Screen Book 1933
Hollywood casts aside conventions of civilization as primitive man becomes the idol of the hour.
Kathleen Burke won her role as the Panther Woman
opposite Richard Arlen in Island of Lost Souls in a national contest.
The picture is H.G. Wells' fantastic story of a man
who set up a weird kingdom in the jungle.
Raquel Torres and Bert Wheeler give their idea of
what romance and life would be like in the jungle pictures
in That's Africa. The film is one of the travesties
that usually follow a cycle of popular pictures.
Alone in the jungle with no mother to tuck him in at night!
But Ronnie Crosbey will make out all right in King of the Jungle
for his lioness has adopted him and will protect him against jungle dangers
better than his real mother could.
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A Life's Journey Through the Newspapers of the World: 1875-1950
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