Friday, 30 September 2016

Poem: MAGICAL MYTHTERY TOUR



MAGICAL MYTHTERY TOUR/ 
ANTHOUSSA, EPIRUS 
                                                    (September 2016)


trackless tracks
sniffed out betwixt
the cracked crevices
of dry-stone terraces
breeze sighs and ripples web-net
skirts around ancient olive trees,
another wrap of shadow
closing around my shoulder,
invisible ghost fingers looming
on the nape of neck, closer,
tar-blacker than night itself
dryads and tree-nymphs
fear-bug tease at glimpse’s edge
off the photocopied map
through an arch of limbs
to the secret waterfall…
squint high and it glitters from sun
in a golden cascade direct from
eyeless velvet cloud-strands
into elfin glade and cave-mouth
lizard-dart small creakings,
a pupa-snore and a snuffle of
pebbles worn marble-smooth,
butterflies skim swirling
flits like Aphrodite’s fingertips
around spray-wet weed…
those endless spills were
falling before I met you
as we stand and kiss,
they’re falling now
beyond our parting
into separate myths,
falling for, you with another…



Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book & TV classic: IAN SERRAILLIER'S 'THE SILVER SWORD'




‘THE SILVER SWORD’: 
IAN SERRAILLIER


In Ian Serraillier’s wonderful juvenile novel, 
the three Balicki children cross war-torn 
Europe, with Jan’s precious box containing 
‘The Silver Sword’, and ‘when their spirits 
flagged, it gave them hope 
 and inspiration to go on…’


 

‘Warsaw is full of lost children’ says Jan.

Within juvenile fiction, there’s a runaway-orphan sub-genre, those tales of the child removed from parental control and thrown back onto its own resources. For the comfortably loved child reader it provides teasing glimpses of a luring freedom from adult authority figures, with the added frisson of danger and fear at the loss of that safe protection.

As an ten-year-old I watched the BBC-TV dramatisation of Ian Serraillier’s ‘The Silver Sword’ in which the three Polish Balicki children – Ruth, the eldest at fifteen, Edek two years younger, and five-year-old Bronia, accompanied by the enigmatic Jan, cross war-devastated Europe in the hope of a rendezvous in Switzerland with their lost parents. It made a powerful impact. A wide-ranging highly-engaging adventure. Deepened by the mystery of whatever Jan’s precious box contains. ‘Warsaw is full of lost children. They’re dirty and starving and they all look alike.’

The first of seven episodes, adapted by CE Webber, was broadcast on Sunday evening, 17:40, 24 November 1957. It follows ‘Circus Boy’ starring Mickey ‘Dolenz’ Braddock (future-Monkee drummer), and ‘Sooty’ with puppeteer Harry Corbett. Produced by Shaun Sutton the serial featured Melvyn Hayes as the sickly Edek. Hayes had already featured in TV’s ‘Quatermass II’ (1955) and as young Victor in ‘The Curse Of Frankenstein’ (1957), but is now best remembered as camp ‘Gloria’ in ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ (1974-1981). Jan was played by Frazer Hines, a future companion to Patrick Troughton’s ‘Doctor Who’, and an ‘Emmerdale Farm’ regular. Pat Pleasance was Ruth, with Ingrid Sylvester as little Bronia. Patrick Cargill and Shaw Taylor were also there, as a black marketeer and a German officer respectively.

Barry Letts & Frazer Hines in the original BBC-TV production

I bought the book on the strength of the TV series. But re-reading it now I’d forgotten how the first five chapters – dated to early 1940, concern father Joseph (played on TV by future ‘Doctor Who’ producer Barry Letts). He’s a headmaster whose primary school undergoes forcible Nazification, with Polish textbooks replaced by German language. He defiantly turns the classroom Hitler portrait to the wall, for which he’s snatched by Storm Troopers and incarcerated in the Zakyna prison-camp. As Serraillier explains, this is a real camp given an imaginary name. Actor John Woodnutt – who was, for a while, our near-neighbour in East Yorkshire, could also be seen as a fellow prisoner. Following an elaborately-detailed escape, involving a catapult made from pine twigs and the elastic sides of his boots, it takes him four-and-a-half weeks to tramp all the way to the ruins of Warsaw. 

Piers Sandford’s line-drawings reproduced in the 1993 Puffin Modern Classics edition shows the silver sword, a paper-knife Joseph had once birthday gifted to his wife, it’s about five inches long with a brass hilt engraved with a fire-breathing dragon. Joseph rediscovers it in the dynamited rubble of their former family home. His Swiss-born wife – Margrit (Gwen Watford), was forcibly taken as a foreign-worker to Germany. The children, he’s told, are presumably dead.

It’s then he encounters ‘a small ragged boy’ with ‘fair wispy hair and unnaturally bright eyes.’ Jan has a wooden box under one arm, and a bony grey kitten under the other. He’s reluctant to even admit his name, and has no surname. ‘I have my grey cat and this box.’ He lives by his wits. But Joseph trades the silver sword for a promise. That if ever the street-wise waif meets the three Balicki children, to tell them that their father Joseph is going to Switzerland to find heir mother. Jan grabs the sword, pops it into his little wooden box, and runs off into the ruins. Yet he returns to help Joseph hop a freight train travelling west.


It’s only now that the narrative – composed of economically stripped but wonderfully vivid word-pictures, returns to explain the fate of the children. Serraillier’s prose interrogates the reader about the night of the Storm Troopers – ‘had they taken his wife away? Had they returned and blown up the house with the children in it?’ Then supplies the answers. Edek – who was a member of the Boy’s Rifle Brigade at age twelve, had used a gun during the Siege of Warsaw. Now he shoots from his bedroom window, wounding one of the Nazis bundling his struggling mother into a van, and then shoots out the rear tyre. Anticipating reprisals the three children escape through the attic window and perilously cross the adjoining roofs before their home is dynamited.

Swiftly and pragmatically they adapt to surviving in the city ruins. Ruth, serious, intelligent and self-assured, starts a school. Edek scavenges, smuggles and thieves from the Nazis, until he’s eventually apprehended. Serraillier’s skill lies in reducing vast global conflict down to a shifting background, through the perspective of a confused war-child. Even the Nazis are shadowy bogey-men to be feared, but almost peripheral. ‘The war will end’ the children are told, ‘be patient.’ While they survive from day-to-day, as child victims of warfare always have, and continue to do so in the Syria migration and beyond.


The summer of 1944, and following the Warsaw Uprising, the city falls to the Soviets. But more significantly, Bronia and Ruth find a pale and ragged boy lying on a heap of rubble. The kitten has gone, he now has a fiercely-protective cockerel called Jimpy, but this is Jan, who has the silver sword safe in his precious wooden box.

As a child of the immediate post-war years I was bored and resentful of the reverence and force-fed respect I was expected to pay to the sacrifices and heroisms of events that had occurred before I was born, the fabricated swell of patriotism for ‘The Dam-Busters’ (1955) or ‘Reach For The Sky’ (1956), and the gratitude to aging icons Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery for saving our freedom. There were war-stories in the comics I read – Frank S Pepper’s long-running ‘Rockfist Rogan’, or air-ace ‘Paddy Payne’ on the cover of ‘Lion’, ‘Commando One’ or ‘War Eagle’ in ‘Comet’ where bull-necked Nazis exclaim ‘Gott in Himmel’, ‘Dummkopf’ and ‘Das Englander’. But I always preferred the fantasy or Sci-fi strips, or the Vikings and Roman epics.


‘The Silver Sword’ was different. This is no comic-strip heroism, it’s a human story. ‘War does strange things to young people’ writes Serraillier, and the enigmatic pickpocket Jan provides the perfect focus. Traumatised and damaged, yet fiercely resilient, he trusts, and has an affinity only with animals. An alienated outsider, surly, sullen and uncommunicative, he’s needy, yet wary. The Russian Ivan assists Ruth’s school with food and writing materials, and helps trace lost brother Edek to the Posen transit camp. Yet to Jan, all soldiers are to be hated, whether Nazi or Russian ‘they’re all the same’. And it’s in a tussle with Ivan that the contents of Jan’s box are revealed – and Ruth recognises the silver sword.

Switzerland is ‘millions of miles away’ argues Jan, ‘and you’ll have to walk. Without any shoes.’

Birds make their nests among the ruins. For there are no trees left now, as Ruth and Bronia – with Jan, leave Warsaw to begin their long journey towards their Swiss ‘Promised Land’, via Posen. But Edek is no longer there. He’s escaped. Instead, they meet him by accident in the same Kolina soup-kitchen that poor Jimpy’s neck is broken in the crush for food. But this is a thinner, sicker Edek, who relates his tale of escaping German slave-labour by hanging suspended and freezing beneath the carriage of a speeding train.


They reach the lunar landscape ruins of Berlin on a refugee train, and Jan adopts a new animal companion – Bistro, an escaped zoo chimpanzee with a taste for cigarettes. They cross the Elbe, watching the Red Army columns descend upon ‘towns littered with the debris of war, upon a people numbed by defeat, living from day to day, with no thought for the future’ (descriptions based on eye-witness accounts in J Stransky’s ‘Wind Over Prague’). And across into the US zone where Jan works a scam to switch rail-signals to red, halting the goods train long enough to plunder it.

The narrative is straightforward, delivered in bite-size chapters. Except for the section in the form of a letter from English Army Officer Mark, to his wife Jane, describing his encounter with the ‘family’. And another from the point of view of Captain Greenwood of the US Army of Occupation, as he attempts to resolve the train-theft incident. Individuals are largely decent and well-intentioned, while overwhelmed by the humanitarian disaster that’s inflicting the devastated kleptocratic continent. From the Bavarian farmer who helps them and conceals them from a Burgomaster intent on repatriating them to Poland, to Joe Wolski, the jovial Polish-American GI who drives them towards the Swiss border.


First published in 1956, perhaps the atrocity inflicted by the Red Army’s block-by-block advance through Berlin was not widely recognised at the time. Or perhaps Serraillier’s vision also carries it’s own truth. Born on 24 September 1912, the oldest of four children, he was educated at Brighton College and St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He was also a Quaker and an activist with the pacifist ‘Peace Pledge Union’. An anti-war commitment recognised by a November 1940 tribunal, granting him conscientious objector status enabling him to contribute to the war effort through school-teaching. Written on an old Remington typewriter in his study across five long summer holidays, ‘The Silver Sword’ first appeared in a Jonathan Cape hardback with dust-jacket art by C Walter Hodges – the edition I originally owned. But it was a slow-burner, accelerated by the positive reception given to the BBC TV serial. In truth, there were only two channels. Up against the fledgling and still-patchy ITV network, the Sunday evening slot – later occupied by the five-part ‘Stranger On The Shore’ serial (from 21 September 1961), guaranteed mass juvenile audiences, and constituted something of a generational rite of passage. It was redone again by the BBC in eight episodes, from 22 August 1971.


I clearly recall the black-and-white TV sequences dramatising Chapter 22, ‘The Farmer Hits On A Plan’, and Chapter 23, ‘Dangerous Waters’, as the four children use two ancient canoes to navigate the Falken River down to its junction with the Danube at Falkenburg. Ruth losing control of the canoe she shares with Bronia as they pass beneath the bridge-span, and shots being fired at them from the night as the current grips them and surges them forward.


Then the final torrential storm that threatens to smash their venture into tragedy on Lake Constance, which forms the border to Switzerland itself. Jan rising to the occasion, retaining the silver sword, but sacrificing his precious box to the waves in his striving to save them. A decisive act of commitment binding him to his new-found family. To his daughter, Jane Serraillier Grossfeld, the book ‘is about the triumph of hope over despair’. In a ‘Peace News’ retrospective, poet Jeff Cloves observes that it ‘insists the best human values can never be extinguished by the worst. Ian Serraillier’s children are believable, their adventures not too far-fetched and their inevitable recovery of their parents will bring a lump to the throat of any reader – no matter how hard-hearted and unsentimental’ (www.peacenews.info/node/5803/triumph-will ).

Although a work of fiction, ‘The Silver Sword’ was rigorously researched and includes strands of the authentic. He used photo-spreads from ‘Picture Post’ and news-accounts in the Quaker periodical ‘The Friend’, as well as official Unesco publications as reference points, sellotaped into his large hardback school notebook. As a young man he’d also canoed on the Danube, and his first teaching post was at an international school on Lake Geneva. The characters are underscored by Red Cross records and, as Jane Serraillier Grossfeld points out in her essay appendaged to the Puffin Modern Classic edition, the real Edek did not survive the tuberculosis that was the legacy of his escape from German-slavery. And there’s nothing as patronizingly simple as a clear-cut happy ending. The delinquent and disturbed Jan – ‘that charming bundle of good intentions and atrocious deeds,’ finds difficulty adapting to peacetime, his psychic scars healed by working with animals. Ruth, forced into premature adult responsibility beyond her years, clings to her Mother. But they add their talents to the creation of the real-life Pestalozzi war-orphans village in Switzerland.

Warsaw was full of lost children. Four of those lost children, removed from parental control and thrown back onto their own resources, cross war-devastated Europe. Ian Serraillier wrote other books, poems, and retellings of classic folklore and myth, including ‘The Ivory Horn’ (1960) – his versions of the Frankish ‘Roland’ legend, ‘Beowulf’ and the tales of Chaucer. He also co-founded Heinemann’s ‘New Windmill Series’ of children’s book with his wife Anne Margaret Rogers. But, although he died 28 November 1994, ‘The Silver Sword’ is the work into which he most engagingly pours his beliefs, and the book for which he’ll be long remembered.


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

LUDD'S MILL: THE FIRST ISSUE




LUDD'S MILL: 
THE FIRST ISSUE

For those who care about such things as historical accuracy, no, I was not remotely involved in the first issue of 'Ludd's Mill'. As the editorial explains, it sprang out of a collective - which was the cool thing to do in 1971, orbiting around a series of live readings in Huddersfield under the 'Inner Circle' banner. Because he'd had previous experience, editing 'Riding West' magazine, Steve Sneyd assumed more of the responsibility for the finished product than its supposed co-operative nature would seem to indicate. Some of the contributors here would never be seen again…


Unlike later issues, the first incarnation of 'Ludd's Mill' is mimeographed, which leads to poor and spotty reproduction…


Apart from the cover-art, there's no illustrations - and visuals were to become a vitally important aspect of future issues…






In keeping with the counter-culture ethos of the time, 'Ludd's Mill' was intended to be street-sold and busked at live events locally, it was art news-bulletins of what was happening strictly at the moment, with no aspirations to posterity…




I was not involved. I was still in Barnsley with the 'Styng' underground tabloid newspaper, and the 'Sad Traffic' arts magazine from which it had grown. But I was starting to poke around interesting events, and this issue of 'Ludd's Mill' found its way onto the exchange/reviews pile scattered across the floor. And I make contact…




Yes, some of the stuff here is very much of its time, and maybe apologies are due. But there's also startlingly good material here that deserves to be preserved, and re-read (if you can't decipher it, individual pages can be blown up into legibility)… and how come there are eleven pages? Well - page two was blank, to allow for the cover-art…!



Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Interview: LINDA EM



LINDA EM: 
A NEW VOICE FROM 
THE SHADOW LAND


Linda Em is an enchanting genre-spanning chanteuse. 
Her debut album ‘Shadow Lands’ is well worth seeking out 
 (2015, Talking Elephant Records www.lindaem.co.uk
This is the full version of an interview done for 
the excellent ‘R2: Rock ‘n’ Reel’ magazine, subsequently 
edited down for publication due to space restrictions



An ‘em’ is a unit used in typography, equal to the currently specified point size, therefore one ‘em’ in a sixteen-point typeface is sixteen points. Linda Em’s name has nothing to do with typography. ‘No it’s a name my friend Sonja put on me. I wanted to abbreviate my surname and she said why not just Em. It also works because I use a lot of E minor chords.’

Minor chords. Major talent. Now auburn-haired Linda’s talking about her debut album, ‘Shadow Lands’ (2015). There’s a kind of literary-connection with CS Lewis about that title. ‘Yes I’m aware of that, it crops up a lot… even in ‘Game Of Thrones’, which is also my kind of thing, pretty addictive, epic and mythological with strong female warriors.’ Although there isn’t a song called ‘Shadow Lands’ ‘it is a word used in one of my lyrics. “Run Higher” is a strange song, inspired by an American man who threw himself off the JPMorgan building in Canary Wharf (‘he couldn’t stand the pressure in his head, so he flew’). I pass the building a lot, its very sad that people are pushed to such actions.’

The video for “Run Higher” shows Linda pensively adrift in the city-commuter flood beneath the Shard skyline. She’s lived in London since the 1980s, making sense of its contradictions with a voice that betrays the edge of Eire in its country-huskiness, yet quietly urgent as she moves from corner to corner, melding Celtic roots with influences ranging from the smoky blues end of the folk spectrum informed by literate classic singer-songwriters. Think Kirsty MacColl, then think again.


At first it seems maybe such songs have matured over a considerable period of time, literate yet Pop-melodic, from slightly nasal Blues to slow sin, accented by Folk-violin. There are lots of frail clear-voiced girl singers in the quasi-Folkie thing, who have perfect voices but little character. Linda’s USP is that her voice is not like that, there’s more breath of experience there. That’s what makes it stand out. There’s even a weird claim on her website that she’s an ‘aged soul honed by a life lived…’ ‘Yes, and no’ she parries. ‘I’m not sure how accurate that is, maybe it’s more a little insight into my person? I am an aged soul, I guess. I’m thirty-four but have a hankering and a taste for all things that came before me. While my peers were reaching for Prodigy I was listening to Janice Joplin and Carole King. As a child it was Fifties, Sixties and Seventies vinyl compilations that my mother had, I would play them on our radiogram. My Dad was a big Hank Williams fan. I also adore old movies, I find them very comforting especially on a rainy day, the comedy pairing of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn used to make me laugh hard!’


“Muse” opens with Matthew Mason’s resonant drums and Chris Wyatt’s guitar shimmering like steely knives, leading into fifties Pop-catchy harmonies, while never less than lyrically enchanting. Amplified with stridently echoey Spector-pacing on the CD, there’s a plaintive quality to the unplugged “The Busker” video-clip found on her Facebook page, done live at the Limehouse Queens Head with only Terence O’Flaherty guitar – revealing its interpretive layers, her fingers illustrating the lyric, weaving shapes in the air. It proves the strength of the song in that it can be interpreted in such different ways. ‘Thank you for that, I mean if a song can work completely stripped back we know we’ve achieved something. That’s what’s interesting about narrative in song, and that chanson idea of a song being lyric-driven. Listeners want to know what happens to the protagonist. I was brought up listening to my grandmother singing trad Irish and I’d find myself drawn into the journey of the people she was singing about, as in “Spancil Hill”. Another good example is the folk song “Tom Dooley” – a bit morbid, but it certainly had me visualising Tom Dooley’s demise.’

Linda’s “The Brig Hannah” follows the same narrative troubadour Folk-tradition as that Kingston Trio hit, Jane Miller’s violin adding trad-depth to the exile’s storytelling. A style that’s currently eclipsed by the more personal confessional style of songwriting. ‘Oh eclipsed I like that’ she laughs. Although Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs did a lot of early story-telling songs. ‘Yes well I’m a big fan of Dylan’s writing and Leonard Cohen… but then hey, who isn’t?’ “The Brig Hannah” is about an actual event that took place in 1849. The ship was traveling from Newry to Quebec when it sank off the gulf of St Lawrence, and Captain Shaw really did desert them (‘I see you steal away’). It struck me as very sad and I was inspired to write.’


The other half of her ‘we’, is Chris Wyatt, who founded and runs the Redbridge Music Lounge community resource, and plays in a Traveling Wilburys tribute-act – the Traveling Tilburys! ‘We’ve been working together for some time, Chris and I. We’ve developed a sound that brings our wide influences together, and it’s still maturing. I develop the narrative in the song and melody, then I’ll go to Chris and we’ll build around it. I do input on production, I most certainly have strong ideas, but Chris is like a musical architect, he’s somehow able to see my vision and bring it to life. He has a vast understanding of music, I feel we’ve come together at just the right time.’

‘The songs themselves? I get inspired by many different things especially the ‘real world’, “The Dockers Tavern” is about an actual ‘beer-stained’ public house I used to work and occasionally sing in, it was frequented by aged seamen and colourful characters. While “Monday Night” isn’t actually my song, it was written by Chris and his then-band just after John Lennon died, in response to his death, and if you listen closely you can understand that from the lyrics.’


We work pretty quickly together, it was more a case of deciding what to leave off the album. I have an increasing amount of material. I have words written everywhere (‘keep spinning those words out’). I’ve certainly lived a little, my writing comes from genuine experience, and a good dose of hindsight. At a certain age you kinda realise that life happens and you just gotta get on with it. I feel “Blue Girl” echoes my philosophy on life…’

Around this point, the conversation gets to be less a formal interview, and more a two-way dialogue. I point out that – personally, I have a passion for old SF and strange off-trails writers, odd poets and Literary weirdos. I’m assuming Linda is fairly literate too, from her articulate and well-crafted lyrics…? ‘Yes I am fairly. I took a strange left at the traffic lights, into dark humour, it all appeals! I’m kinda word hungry, always open to literary weirdos and defo odd poets. I topic-jump a lot. I’m actually trying to re-read a selection of Ted Hughes poems, and reading about ‘Granuaile’ – Ireland’s pirate queen Gráinne O’Malley (circa 1530 to 1603). I’ve also been digging around the Harry Smith ‘Anthology Of American Folk Music’ (Folkways 1952, CD set 1997) and the connection he had with Allen Ginsburg.’


Owning up… Allen Ginsberg was a great influence on me when I was starting out, freeing up line-lengths and loosening up form. The only Ted Hughes I could really get into was the ‘Crow’ sequence, but that is brilliant. For a lyric-writer I guess all this stuff feeds in and informs the way Linda expresses words in song… all these things interact and feed off each other... ‘I’ve always found – with writing poetry, that I lack the discipline, so lyric writing frees that up. I noted Ginsburg’s connection with mental health, which is something that interests me, how crises spawns a certain kind of creatives, like Sylvia Plath – who I do really enjoy! As a teenager I was completely fascinated with the Hughes-Plath dynamic. ‘Birthday Letters’ (Faber, 1998) was like Pandora’s box to me. I was at a folk art exhibition at the Tate and I saw an old tapestry of a fox, which triggered the memory of the poem, the thought-fox so for the past few months I’ve been revisiting Plath and Hughes intermittently. Yes, ‘Crow’ is a masterpiece, but then I’m intrigued by the crow in mythology anyway especially Celtic.’

Linda has taken time learning her craft, and it tells across the album’s ten diversely engaging tracks. It’s a debut album to return to. ‘I kissed the blues’ says “Blue Girl”, so ‘if you’re gonna rock me, Baby, make it good.’ Minor chords. Major talent.



Published (in abbreviated form) in:
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL’ Vol.2 no.53 September-October
(UK – September 2015)
 and
CD review in:
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 No.52’
 (UK – July/August 2015)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Poem: 'LOVE & BEAUTIFUL REBELLION'



LOVE AND 
BEAUTIFUL REBELLION/ 
SOME DREAMS COME IN PACKAGES
                                                          Art: Karen Smithey


when all this madness ends
I’ll finish that novel,
sit and peck out laptop words
deciphering this delirium
replaying it as memory,
when all this madness ends
I’ll sit beneath the lilac tree
with pizza and a Bud
and calmly reflect on this
delicious rage that rips me apart,
yes, yes, I’ll do all that
tomorrow, or the day beyond
when this intoxication fades,
dripped out like sweat through my pores,
when all this madness ends
I’ll walk through drifts of dragonflies
around the lake’s-edge beneath the sky
watch rabbits and squirrels dash,
pause at the water’s rim and reflect
on all the what might have beens
in the shattered ripples of sunlight,
but not now, please, not yet,
when all this madness ends
I’ll think of you, now and then,
wonder where you are, who you’re with,
and if this makes any sense at all
because it’s sure as hell
the sweetest madness to me


Thursday, 18 August 2016

ER Burroughs: TARZAN OF THE APES




TARZAN OF THE APES 


Created out of the modest daydreams of arch-fantasist 
Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, 
the Jungle-Lord became one of the biggest 
cross-media franchises of the twentieth-century



Of all the great mythic twentieth-century heroes – James Bond, Batman, Superman or Flash Gordon, plus Sherlock Holmes and Dracula who are both technically nineteenth-century creations, few of them achieved the universal presence of Tarzan, the real King Of The Swingers, the real Jungle VIP. There have been Tarzan movies for as long as there have been movies – silent, black-&-white, talkies, Technicolor, CGI… DVD’s, barely a year of that lapsed century passed without one movie version or another appearing at the local flea-pit, or later, on the TV screen. Everyone is familiar with the exploits of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ape-man. 

Yet, although it has become an essential part of mainstream Pop-culture, Tarzan’s secret domain began as part of a sub-literary sub-genre of Lost World fantasies. One that also encompasses Arthur Conan-Doyle’s wonderful ‘The Lost World’ – set on an inaccessible South American plateau, or H Rider Haggard’s proto-Indiana Jones ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ – located in a remote African region. ‘King Kong’ from Skull Island – discovered off the coast of Sumatra, operates within the same Lost World genre, as do exploits in submerged Atlantis, within the molecular structure of matter – as in Ray Cummings’ “Girl In The Golden Atom”, or through a convenient dimensional portal to Clark Ashton Smith’s “City Of The Singing Flame”.

In fact, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ had a fictional penchant for placing lost civilisations in every possible – and numerous highly improbable places. At the Earth’s core – where Tarzan links up with ERB’s other fantastic voyagers in Pellucidar, or the mist-shrouded island of Caspak, as well as the Moon, Mars and Venus. Back then – in October 1912 when the first Tarzan ‘Romance Of The Jungle’ emerged as the dramatic cover-story of Munsey’s fifteen-cent ‘All-Story Magazine’, it was still possible to think in terms of his African home as being a ‘Dark’ partially-unexplored continent in which strange and startling discoveries were yet to be made. Lost children reared by apes perhaps, even if the wealth of Lost Cities, Hidden Valley Civilisations and Forgotten Realms he habitually stumbles across seemed less likely. It’s odd that the Tarzan myth remains as seductive now, in an age when satellite surveillance global-mapping has left no part of the Earth’s surface unobserved and unknown.


Is the Tarzan myth a racist metaphor? In the sense that a lone white orphan, brought up by apes, overcomes all natural obstacles to triumph as Lord Of The Jungle – just possibly. Except that Tarzan excels only in the way that heroes tend naturally to excel, and only in the same way that Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other creation – John Carter, triumphs over all Martian adversaries to become Warlord Of Barsoom. It’s difficult to frame a species-ist argument against Burroughs on that score, so why complicate Tarzan with such accusations?

Tarzan is also a member of the English aristocracy – he is the cultured Lord Greystoke, so it could equally be argued that his triumph over nature is due to his upper-class bloodlines. But Burroughs was a democratic American who stood for no truck with the superior claims of the Ruritanian European class structure, beyond a kind of hazy fairy-tale romanticism. His aristocracy is more a plot-device, than evidence of any political subtext. No, it is Tarzan’s natural attributes of courage, decency, and sense of fairness that sets him apart, not race or class. Tarzan is less about white supremacy than he is about the persistent legends of feral children brought up by animals, a belief that goes back at least as far as Romulus & Remus, and analogous to Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli, reared by wolves.

Stories persist to this day of real-life cases, about children discovered living wild with animals. Edgar Rice Burroughs was reworking that idea, integrating it into the heroic-fantasy pantheon, to create one of the great fictional images of the age. Tarzan speaks the secret language of animals. There are battling war-like natives, but largely Tarzan respects, and is respected by noble African tribes-people. Tarzan’s primary opponents are the white exploiters who seek to penetrate the jungle only to despoil and desecrate the rainforest environment in which he is so perfectly at home, to rob it of its primordial purity. So claims to an eco-conservationist subtext give it renewed contemporary relevance. Yet like all of ERB’s stories, Tarzan is an escapist power-fantasy, a daydream wish-fulfilment that answers to, and is only responsible to the rules of dream. And like dream, it embodies something of the desires, aspirations and archetypes of the subconscious forces that generate it.


Tarzan may have sprung fully-formed from the hyper-productive pen of ER Burroughs, but the Lord of the Jungle immediately took on an independent life of his own. Like those other great recurring fictional myth-figures, he prospered and developed through the intervention of other hands, in other media, through other creative teams. The high-adventure picture-strip incarnation of Burroughs’ novels was first syndicated in the funny-pages of American national newspapers… alongside ‘Little Orphan Annie’ and ‘Mutt & Jeff’. It commenced 7 January 1929 – oddly enough, the same day the ‘Buck Rogers’ daily strip was launched! To comics-historian Les Daniels ‘the two strips which bowed simultaneously on that day threw startled newspaper readers backwards into the passionate, primeval past of the jungle, and forward into the fantastic future of space travel and science-fiction’ (in ‘Comix: A History Of Comic-books In America’ Fusion Books 1973).

Although he had no great love for the character, Harold R Foster illustrated the first 300 panels of ‘Tarzan of the Apes’. The thirty-six-year-old artist later claimed, ‘I had no instructions at all, just the book, I did the adaptation myself.’ Those strips were initially drawn from ERB-stories that first appeared in ‘All-Story’, and later in ‘Argosy’. And Foster’s artistic innovations rapidly develop into impeccable draftsmanship, with accurate anatomy and dramatic strongly-masculine composition, all executed with crisp rendering. To Brian Kane, ‘Foster created the definitive Tarzan. He established a look of nobility and aristocracy that would influence Burne Hogarth, Rubimor (Amilcar Ruben Moreira), Bob Lubbers, Russ Manning, Gil Kane, Mike Grell, Gray Morrow, Joe Kubert, John Buscema, and every other artist who illustrated the Ape-Man.

Another Foster trademark that appears for the first time in comics is the use of captions instead of word balloons. This technique, known as the story-strip, allowed Foster to create compositions containing amazingly detailed backgrounds unhindered by text. As an indicator of the synergy that exists between comics and cinema, Tarzan was on the newsstands both in his picture-strip incarnation, and in fan-mags that relied on stills from his career as a movie-hero. And those two visual methods of story-telling – developing more or less simultaneously across the same years, had a profound effect on each other. A two-way interaction of weird angle shots and imaginative frame-composition suggesting new techniques for visual progression.

Lured away by William Randolph Hearst in 1936, Foster took his classicism on to create ‘Prince Valiant’, leaving Tarzan to the more vigorous pen and unparalleled ingenuity of Burne Hogarth, who – from 1937 to 1945, then from 1947 to 1950, was to become one of the most celebrated Tarzan artists. He was also instrumental in setting up ‘The Cartoonists & Illustrators School’ in 1946 designed for ex-GI’s who had aspirations of retraining as cartoonists. Among its alumni were Harry Harrison, Al Williamson, Wally Wood and Roy Krenkel.


Tarzan strips were soon being reprinted in Britain in the George Newnes magazine ‘Tit-Bits’, and then again in the boys weekly ‘Pilot’. The first colour-comic appearance was in the English-language version of a French weekly – the large-format ‘Tarzan: The Grand Adventure Comic’ from 15 September 1951. The front-page strip of the first issue opens lyrically with ‘the dawn of a beautiful day is breaking. A day of peace and joy. Tarzan fills his lungs with the scented air of the jungle. He swings from tree to tree through the forest. Suddenly he stops and listens…’ He’s alerted by Nikima, his monkey-friend, of a strange intruder in the Mangani tribal land.

Although Tarzan films seldom fail to do good box-office, and despite expenditure on wardrobe requirements being negligible, the celluloid exploits were subject to severe budgetry restrictions which limited the scope of the adventures to tribal cults and ivory-hunting poachers. Comic-strips – like the original ER Burroughs novels which they soon outgrew, were restrained only by the reach of the creator’s imagination, and by his technical ability to convincingly portray it in a series of picture-frames.

  
Burne Hogarth accepted no limitations whatsoever, and his superbly exaggerated art is in every way equal to – and surpasses its remit. As with Burroughs’ prose, Tarzan’s restless wanderings take him into innumerable lost valleys and hidden civilisations where beautiful princesses are menaced by the ambitious schemings of sinister high priests in evocatively drawn pagan jungle cities. Most bizarrely of all Burne Hogarth conceived the Onone’s in 1949, a race of creatures consisting of evil spherical human heads from which spindly arms project from either side. With expressions of uniformly vile hatred they constitute wonderfully nasty antagonists for the perfectly-proportioned ape-man hero to battle against. This series of adventures were among those adapted by a young – an absurdly young Michael Moorcock for the UK edition of Westworld’s ‘Tarzan Adventures’, for which the American strips were scissored and re-pasted into portrait pages, with frames extended to fit by the addition of extra foliage down the side, or cropped to fit the space requirements of the new format. Moorcock was quick to seize the opportunity of indulging his passion for ER Burroughs in the remaining pages which he used for features, reviews, new strips and fiction – including his own now highly-collectable first attempts, as well as photo-spreads from the currently new Tarzan movies.

Those movies actually predate the picture-strips, starting and captivating audiences during the very earliest days of Hollywood’s black-&-white silent era, going on to originate and develop powerful new elements of the mythos, including the famous Tarzan-cry. The vine-swinging. Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan improvised the ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ routine in the Culver City parking lot of ‘Tarzan, The Ape Man’ (1932), the first Tarzan ‘talkie’. Although not in the original script, their playful spontaneity was retained. Perhaps the greatest screen-Tarzan of them all, Weissmuller-as-Tarzan went on to be commemorated on the Beatles’ ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967) album cover-collage, just behind Ringo, looking at Paul.


Tarzan has been many things across many decades, but he’s seldom been considered confrontational. Yet oddly enough, the first major instance of censorship under the Hays Production Code involved the 1934 jungle romp ‘Tarzan & His Mate’ (1934), in which brief nude scenes involving a body double for Maureen O’Sullivan were edited out of the master negative of the film. Later still, when young Johnny Sheffield was introduced into the series with ‘Tarzan Finds A Son’ (1939), it was deemed too risqué for the unmarried Tarzan and Jane to actually produce a son as the natural result of their (supposedly chaste!) cohabitation, so he’s introduced as the sole survivor of a plane crash. In fact, ER Burroughs established a legitimising precedent, as his textual Tarzan already had a son, Jack ‘Korak’ Clayton.

The personable Sheffield features in eight Tarzan films, carrying Johnny through from age seven, to sixteen. Philip José Farmer also manages to tease out the potential of the erotic subtext through a series of playful novels. Meanwhile, the noble ape-man spawned an entire category of imitators, spoofs, variants and would-be-rivals, complete magazines and comic-books devoted to ‘Jungle Adventures’. ‘Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle’ was created by ‘W Morgan Thamas’ (an aka of SR Powell), she began in ‘Jumbo Comics’ (September 1938) but graduated into her own title by Spring 1942. Elsewhere, the list of clones extends all the way from ‘Jungle Jim’, ‘Ki-Gor’, to Terry Scott’s hapless flabby ‘Ugh The Jungle Boy’ in ‘Carry On Up The Jungle’ (1970)…!

A remorseless defender of natural order, visiting swift justice on despoilers of his savage realm, the Tarzan archetype has remained as potent across a century in which every corner of the planet has been subjected to the most scrupulous scrutiny, has been exhaustively Google-Earth mapped, and is now routinely reduced down to a global theme-park. Tarzan’s longevity provides absolute evidence of the enduring power of the image ERB envisioned.



 TARZAN: STORY BY STORY
… EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS 

NOVELS: 

(1912) ‘TARZAN OF THE APES’ published in the October 1912 issue of Frank A Munsey’s pulp ‘All-Story Magazine’, the dramatic cover-story ‘A Romance Of The Jungle’ alongside short stories by Frank Comstock, Ella Argo, Frank Condon, John Swain, Jack Brandt and RA Ellis

(1913) ‘THE RETURN OF TARZAN’ serialized in seven parts in ‘New Story Magazine’ from June to December 1913, taking Tarzan from America to Europe, a sequence of adventures with Arabs in Algeria, then back to Africa where he becomes chief of the Waziri tribe who lead him to the lost jungle city Opar. He rescues Jane from the Oparian ape-men, assisted by the beautiful priestess La, who loves him. The novel ends with Tarzan marrying Jane

(1914) ‘THE BEASTS OF TARZAN’ serialized in ‘All-Story Cavalier’ magazine, Tarzan and Jane have a son – Jack, who is kidnapped by Tarzan’s adversaries from the previous novel, Nikolas Rokoff and Alexis Paulvitch. Marooned on a jungle island Tarzan uses the panther Sheeta and Akut’s tribe of great apes to escape and pursue the bad guys

(1914) ‘THE SON OF TARZAN’ again serialized in six-parts in ‘All-Story Weekly’, in England, Paulvitch is exhibiting the captured Akut. When Jack assists the ape to escape back to Africa, Paulvitch is killed, and Jack flees into the jungle where he’s named ‘Korak’ by the Mongani apes. He rescues an abused girl, Meriem, and shares a jungle life with her before he’s reunited with his parents at their Waziri estate. In London, Jack and Meriem are married


(1916) ‘TARZAN & THE JEWELS OF OPAR’, the lost colony of sunken Atlantis has a treasure room of mined gold. Tarzan is trailed there by Belgian army officer Albert Werper, who’s Arab employer kidnaps Jane. A rock-fall causes Tarzan to lose his memory. He again rejects priestess La’s love, and – with Werper, escapes from the lost city with Opar’s sacrificial knife

(1919) ‘JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN’ collection of tales originally run in ‘Blue Book Magazine’, with ‘Tarzan’s First Love’ (1916), ‘The Capture Of Tarzan’ (1916), ‘The Fight For The Balu’ (1916), ‘The God Of Tarzan’ (1916), ‘Tarzan And The Black Boy’ (1917), ‘The Witch-Doctor Seeks Vengeance’ (1917), ‘The End Of Bukawai’ (1917), ‘The Lion’ (1917), ‘The Nightmare’ (1917), ‘The Battle For Teeka’ (1917), ‘A Jungle Joke’ (1917), ‘Tarzan Rescues The Moon’ (1917).

(1920) ‘TARZAN THE UNTAMED’ made up of ‘Tarzan The Untamed’ (from ‘Red Book’, 1919) and ‘Tarzan & The Valley Of Luna’ (‘All-Story Weekly’, 1920), fearing Jane has been killed by invading World War I German troops, Tarzan’s quest for revenge takes him to a secret desert valley and the lost city Xuja

(1921) ‘TARZAN THE TERRIBLE’ following clues that Jane is still alive, Tarzan reaches Pal-u-don, a hidden valley of dinosaurs, where he encounters two tailed human-like tribes, the hairless white-skinned Ho-don and hairy hill-dwelling Waz-don. Held here by her German abductor, Jane escapes, only for Korak to intervene and save both of his parents. The book edition includes a map and glossary

(1922/ 1923) ‘TARZAN & THE GOLDEN LION’, two expeditions to Opar, one led by Flora Hawkes with a Spanish actor ‘fake’ Tarzan, Esteban Miranda, the other by Tarzan himself. La has fallen out of favour with the High Priest, and escapes with Tarzan into the Valley of Diamonds where intelligent gorillas have enslaved devolved humans. With help of Jal-bal-ja, his Golden Lion and the natives, Tarzan restores La to power. Then he confronts the ‘fake’ Tarzan!

(1924) ‘TARZAN & THE ANT MEN’, first published as a seven-part serial in ‘Argosy All-Story Weekly’, travelling through the thorny jungle-belt of the Alali – ruled by their females, Tarzan enters Minunia with its inhabitants one-quarter human size. The Minunians live in magnificent city-states that frequently wage war against each other. Tarzan befriends king Adendrohahkis, and prince Komodoflorensal of the city called Trohanadalmakus, and joins them in war against the onslaught of their warlike neighbours from Veltopismakus. He’s captured in battle and imprisoned by Gefasto of the Veltopismakusians, whose scientist Zoanthrohago conducts an experiment reducing him to the size of a Minunian, and the ape-man is imprisoned and enslaved among other prisoners of war. He meets Komodoflorensal in the dungeons, and together they’re able to make a daring escape. There are elements of ERBs Barsoom stories here, ‘The Master Mind Of Mars’ or ‘Swords Of Mars’

(1927, 1928) ‘TARZAN, LORD OF THE JUNGLE’ in a ‘forbidden valley’ hidden in the mountains, Tarzan discovers an outpost of European knights and crusaders


(1928) ‘TARZAN & THE LOST EMPIRE’ Tarzan and a young German find a lost remnant of the Roman empire hidden in the mountains of Africa. This novel is notable for the introduction of Nkima, who serves as Tarzan's monkey companion in it and a number of later Tarzan stories. It also reintroduces Muviro, first seen in ‘Tarzan and the Golden Lion’, as sub-chief of Tarzan's Waziri warriors

(1929) ‘TARZAN AT THE EARTH’S CORE’ In response to a radio plea from Abner Perry, a scientist who with his friend David Innes has discovered the interior world of Pellucidar at the Earth's core, Jason Gridley launches an expedition to rescue Innes from the Korsars (corsairs), the scourge of the internal seas. He enlists Tarzan, and a fabulous airship is constructed to penetrate Pellucidar via the natural polar opening connecting the outer and inner worlds. The airship is crewed primarily by Germans, with Tarzan's Waziri warriors under their chief Muviro also along for the expedition. In Pellucidar Tarzan and Gridley are each separated from the main force of the expedition and must struggle for survival against the prehistoric creatures and peoples of the inner world. Gridley wins the love of the native cave-woman Jana, the Red Flower of Zoram. Eventually everyone is reunited, and the party succeeds in rescuing Innes. As Tarzan and the others prepare to return home, Gridley decides to stay to search for Frederich Wilhelm Eric von Mendeldorf und von Horst, one last member of the expedition who remains lost (The missing Von Horst's adventures are told in a sequel, ‘Back to the Stone Age’, which features neither Gridley nor Tarzan)

(1930, 1931) ‘TARZAN THE INVINCIBLE’ Tarzan, his monkey friend Nkima, and Chief Muviro and his faithful Waziri warriors prevent Russian communists from looting the lost city of Opar


(1931) ‘TARZAN TRIUMPHANT’ backed by Chief Muviro and the Waziri warriors, Tarzan faces Soviet agents seeking revenge, and a lost tribe descended from early Christians practicing a bizarre and debased religious cult

(1932) ‘TARZAN & THE CITY OF GOLD’ Tarzan rescues Valthor from a group of ‘shiftas’ bandits, and befriends this warrior of the lost city of Athne, City of Ivory and capital of the land of Thenar. Tarzan is captured by the insane yet beautiful queen Nemone of its hereditary enemy, Cathne, City of Gold, capital of the land of Onthar. Tarzan is forced to fight Cathne’s strongest man in its arena, and easily overpowers his antagonist. ThenTarzan is forced to fight a lion, he at first believes he can outrun the beast but this lion is specifically selected for endurance, and ultimately an unarmed Tarzan must turn to face him. Fortunately his own lion ally, Jad-bal-ja, whom he had raised from a cub, arrives and intervenes, killing Belthar and saving Tarzan. Nemone, who believes her life is linked to that of her pet, kills herself when it dies. Unusually for lost cities in the Tarzan series, which are typically visited but once, Cathne and Athne reappear in a later Tarzan adventure, ‘Tarzan the Magnificent’ (the only other lost city Tarzan visits more than once is Opar)

(1933, 1934) ‘TARZAN & THE LION MAN’ Tarzan discovers a mad scientist with a city of talking gorillas. To create additional havoc, a Hollywood film crew sets out to shoot a Tarzan movie in Africa and brings along an actor who is an exact double of the apeman himself, but is his opposite in courage and determination

(1935) ‘TARZAN & THE LEOPARD MEN’ an amnesiac Tarzan with monkey companion Nkima are taken by an African warrior to be his guardian spirits, and as such come into conflict with the murderous secret society of the Leopard Men


(1935, 1936) ‘TARZAN’S QUEST’ in her first appearance since ‘Tarzan and the Ant Men’, Jane gets involved in a quest for a bloodthirsty lost tribe who allegedly possess an immortality drug. Tarzan and his monkey companion, little Nkima, are also drawn in, with the Waziri warriors, who are searching for Chief Muviro’s lost daughter Buira. Nkima’s vital contribution to the adventure is recognized when he’s made a recipient of the treatment along with the human protagonists at the novel’s end

 (1938) ‘TARZAN & THE FORBIDDEN CITY’ Brian Gregory’s gone missing on his quest to find the legendary city of Ashair, lured by rumor of the world’s hugest gem – the Father of Diamonds. Tarzan cares little for him, but responds to Paul d’Arnot’s request to guide the expedition Gregory’s father and sister organize for his rescue. The enigmatic Atan Thome is also obsessed with the gem, and uses agents in the safari to spy out its route and sabotage its efforts. Both parties reach their goal, remote Ashair... as prisoners of its priests, doomed to die in hideous rites

(1939) ‘TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT’ made up of ‘Tarzan and the Magic Men’ (1936) and ‘Tarzan and the Elephant Men’ (1937-1938), Tarzan encounters a lost race with uncanny mental powers, after which he revisits the lost cities of Cathne and Athne, encountered in the earlier novel ‘Tarzan and the City of Gold’. As usual, he’s backed up by Chief Muviro and his Waziri warriors

(1947) ‘TARZAN & THE FOREIGN LEGION’ while serving in the RAF during World War II under his civilian name John Clayton, Tarzan is shot down over the island of Sumatra in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies. He uses his jungle survival skills to save his comrades in arms, and fight the Japanese while seeking escape from enemy territory

(1964) ‘TARZAN & THE MADMAN’ Tarzan tracks down yet another impostor resembling him, who is under the delusion he is Tarzan

(1965) ‘TARZAN & THE CASTAWAYS’ made up of ‘Tarzan and the Castaways’ (1941), ‘Tarzan and the Champion’ (1940), ‘Tarzan and the Jungle Murders’ (1940)


Other ERB stories:

(1963, for younger readers) ‘TARZAN & THE TARZAN TWINS’ with ‘The Tarzan Twins" (1927), and ‘Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins and Jad-Bal-Ja the Golden Lion’ (1936).

(1995) ‘TARZAN: THE LOST ADVENTURE’ (with Joe R Lansdale)

TARZAN’ by other authors: 

By Barton Werper: (never authorised by Burroughs, Inc, and destroyed following litigation)
(1964) ‘TARZAN & THE SILVER GLOBE’
(1964) ‘TARZAN & THE CAVE CITY’
(1964) ‘TARZAN & THE SNAKE PEOPLE’
(1965) ‘TARZAN & THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN’
(1965) ‘TARZAN & THE WINGED INVADERS’


By Fritz Leiber: 
(1966) ‘TARZAN & THE VALLEY OF GOLD’ (the first novel authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, and numbered as the 25th book in the Tarzan series).

By Philip José Farmer: 
(circa 1966) ‘A FEAST UNKNOWN’ A character based on Tarzan (Lord Grandrith) appears in the Nine trilogy (circa 1966) ‘LORD OF THE TREES’ and ‘THE MAD GOBLIN’
(1972) ‘TARZAN ALIVE’, a fictional biography of Tarzan (here Lord Greystoke), one of two ‘foundational’ books – along with his ‘Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, of the Wold Newton Family. (1974) ‘THE ADVENTURES OF THE PEERLESS PEER
(1985) ‘TIME’S LAST GIFT’ explains how Tarzan came to be in Ancient Opar (see below)
(1999) ‘THE DARK HEART OF TIME’ officially authorized by the ER Burroughs estate, and uses the ‘Tarzan’ name rather than just inference
(1974) ‘HADON OF ANCIENT OPAR
(1976) ‘FLIGHT TO OPAR’ The ER Burroughs estate authorized the ‘Opar’ novels in which a secondary character – while not specifically named as ‘Tarzan’, is intended by Farmer to be Tarzan, and is included as such by most Wold Newton Family scholars. Farmer also wrote a novel based on his own fascination with Tarzan, entitled ‘LORD TYGER’, and translated ERB’s original ‘TARZAN OF THE APES’ novel into Esperanto.

By R.A. Salvatore: 
(1996) ‘TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURE

By Nigel Cox: 
(2004) ‘TARZAN PRESLEY’ spoof novel about a character named ‘Ted Nugent who combines elements of Tarzan with Elvis Presley, set in New Zealand and America. Subject to litigation, has not been reprinted since its initial publication.

FILMS: 


(January 1918) ‘TARZAN OF THE APES’ (National Film Corporation Of America, 73 minutes) Dir: Scott Sidney. ‘The Wonder Story Of The Age’ – first-ever Tarzan film, silent, but a reasonably faithful adaptation by Fred Miller & Lois Weber of the first half of Burroughs’ first novel. Lord John and Lady Alice Greystoke’s baby is born shortly after they’re put ashore in Africa by mutineers. After their death the young Tarzan (Gordon Griffith) is raised by the Great Ape Kala. Years later a search party – of which Jane Porter (Enid Markey) is a part, arrives. Tarzan, now fully grown (Elmo Lincoln), falls in love with her and she with him. Lincoln makes a hunky Tarzan, and acquits himself well. According to movie-legend he genuinely kills a very old lion in this film. Also features George B French as mutineer sailor Binns aboard the ‘Fuwalda’

(September 1918) ‘THE ROMANCE OF TARZAN’ (National Film Corporation Of America, 96-minutes, although now lost) Dir: William Lucas. Based on the second part of ER Burroughs’ novel ‘Tarzan Of The Apes’, adapted by Bess Meredyth. Tarzan (Elmo Lincoln) follows Jane (Enid Markey) to the Porter’s Californian ranch where complications with outlaws, and romance set in. Also features Thomas Jefferson (as Prof Porter) and Cleo Madison (as La Belle Odine, who Jane mistakenly believes has designs on Tarzan)

(May 1920) ‘THE REVENGE OF TARZAN’ (Goldwyn, 90-mins, now lost) with Robert Saxmar’s screenplay based around ER Burroughs’ ‘The Return Of Tarzan’, this silent film stars Gene Pollar (his only screen-Tarzan) as an unconvincing Ape-Man, and Karla Schramm (Jane) – she will return as Jane for ‘The Son Of Tarzan’


(March 1927) ‘TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION’ (57-minutes) Director: JP McGowan. With James H. ‘Big Jim’ Pierce (Tarzan), Dorothy Dunbar (Jane), and Boris Karloff (as Owaza, the Wazari chief). Recently re-discovered, Tarzan, along with his companion Jad-bal-ja – the Golden Lion of the title, journeys to the mysterious City of Diamonds to save his friends. Lots of action and some interesting vine-work. Jim Pierce – ER Burroughs’ son-in-law, also played Tarzan in radio serials and does a fine job

(March 1932) ‘TARZAN, THE APE MAN’ (MGM, 99 minutes) Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), Dir: WS Van Dyke. With dialogue by Ivor Novello. Among its notable firsts, this is the first Tarzan ‘talkie’, the first to feature Cheeta the Chimp, the famous Tarzan-call, and the famous ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ sequence. Weissmuller is easily the best-known movie Ape-Man and does a great job, even if his Tarzan isn't portrayed as the intelligent guy he is in the books. And Maureen O'Sullivan IS Jane, intelligent, sexy and quite capable of taking care of herself – until she meets Tarzan. She tags along with her father, James Parker (played by C Aubrey Smith) and his partner Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton)’s safari searching for the mysterious elephant graveyard. Once they’re deep in the jungle, Tarzan ‘discovers’ Jane and promptly kidnaps her. They quickly fall in love and then the action begins. The safari is captured by a tribe of pygmies and Tarzan must rescue them – with the help of his elephant friends. A classic adventure film, remade in 1959 with Denny Miller, and in 1981 with Miles O'Keeffe

(April 1934) ‘TARZAN AND HIS MATE’ (MGM, 93 minutes) Dir: Cedric Gibbons. Johnny Weissmuller. Maureen O'Sullivan. After barely surviving first time around Harry Holt, with womanizing new partner Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh), returns to seek the elephant graveyard, hoping Tarzan will help them, but when he refuses they go it alone. Only to find themselves fighting for their lives surrounded by hostile natives. Tarzan – and the elephants, arrive just in time to save Jane. For many, this is the ULTIMATE Tarzan movie! The extended footage included on the video release makes it even better! Tons of exciting action, a cool villain, great photography and Miss O'Sullivan in a leather bikini! The characters are well portrayed and the excitement/wonder never stops. The much-repeated crocodile battle sequence happens here for the first time

(November 1936) ‘TARZAN ESCAPES’ (MGM, 89-mins) Director: Richard Thorpe. Johnny Weissmuller. Maureen O'Sullivan. Jane's cousins want to inform her of a large inheritance she’s received, and hire an unscrupulous guide to help them find Tarzan. The guide, on the other hand, wants to capture Tarzan and make an exhibit of him. Once again the safari is surrounded and captured by hostile natives and, with the help of the elephants, Tarzan rescues them. Film-goers get their first glimpse of Tarzan’s famous tree-house. Jane wears more clothing this time around, but she’s still breathtaking


(January 1937) ‘TARZAN'S REVENGE’ (20th Century Fox, 70-mins) released during a lapse in the MGM-franchise, with Glenn Morris as Tarzan, and Eleanor Holm as ‘Eleanor Reed’ (a stand-in Jane). Directyor: D Ross Lederman. A hunting expedition arrives and quickly finds trouble. A sheik wants to make a bride of the lead hunter's daughter, Eleanor (not Jane, again). Tarzan has other ideas and foils the sheik's plans at every turn. This movie is just plain horrible

(June 1939) ‘TARZAN FINDS A SON’ (MGM, 82-mins) Director: Richard Thorpe. Johnny Weissmuller. Maureen O'Sullivan. Johnny Sheffield. A small plane crashes in the jungle, its only survivor a baby boy. The baby is rescued by Cheetah and taken to Tarzan's home. He and Jane raise the child as their own and name him Boy. Later, a safari arrives looking for the lost plane. The safari, Jane and Boy manage to get captured by (you guessed it) hostile natives and, after a breathtaking escape by Boy, are rescued by Tarzan and his elephant friends. I love this movie. It is exciting and I always wished (and I sometimes still do) I could be Boy…

(December 1941) ‘TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE’ (MGM, 81-mins) Director: Richard Thorpe. Johnny Weissmuller. Maureen O’Sullivan. Johnny Sheffield. Boy runs away in search of civilisation. But winds up in a plague-infested native village, from where he’s rescued by a scientific team. Boy unknowingly informs two less scrupulous members of the party – Medford (Tom Conway) and Vandermeer (Philip Dorn), of the existence of gold in Tarzan’s jungle-escarpment. They kidnap Jane and Boy in order to make Tarzan show them the location of the gold. But soon the group is captured by bad natives, so they, in turn, must be rescued by Tarzan (with the elephants). Meanwhile, Boy befriends a young African lad, one of the few black people in a Tarzan film to actually say much more than ‘Yes, Bwana’!


(May 1942) ‘TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE’ (MGM, 71-mins) Director: Richard Thorpe. Johnny Weissmuller. Maureen O'Sullivan. Johnny Sheffield. Boy is kidnapped and taken to New York City, believing Tarzan and Jane are dead. Tarzan and Jane track him down to where he’s been put to work in a circus. Tarzan must fight for his custody in court, in a suit!, and - with the help of the elephants, gets Boy back. Tarzan dives off the bridge, and there’s an unnecessarily racist phone gag. The film ‘contains shots of the only BABY ELEPHANT ACT ever TRAINED OR FILMED!’ – with Sally, Happy, & Queeny conducted by Boy and presided over by Cheetah. MGM’s animal trainer, George Emerson was more used to working with ‘Bull’ elephants. After 14 films with Weissmuller, this was Maureen O’Sullivan’s last Tarzan, she went on to become John Wayne’s most perfect screen partner, and mother of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ actress Mia Farrow

(February 1943) ‘TARZAN TRIUMPHS’ (RKO, 76-mins) Director: Wilhelm Thiele, with Johnny Weissmuller, Frances Gifford (as Zandra) and Johnny Sheffield. ‘Now Tarzan make war!’ declares Tarzan as he battles Nazi agents intent on enslaving the hidden city of Palandrya. An absent Jane has supposedly returned to London to be with her sick mother, but Boy manages to get captured, before Tarzan begins to pick off the Germans one by one. ‘Jungle people fight to live, civilised people live to fight’ says Tarzan. Frances Gifford played Nyoka in the Republic movie-serial ‘Jungle Girl’ – on which Ike Turner modeled Tina’s early stage routine, and which features some of the coolest vine-swinging on celluloid

(December 1943) ‘TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY’ (RKO, 70-mins) Director: Wilhelm Thiele, with Johnny Weissmuller, Nancy Kelly, and Johnny Sheffield. Jane sends a request for Tarzan’s fever medicine to aid Allied soldiers stricken with jungle fever. Tarzan and Boy journey across a great desert to retrieve the vines needed for the medicine. They get mixed up in a spy plot involving an Arab prince, a wild stallion, and a beautiful American magician (played by Nancy Kelly). Tarzan’s battle with a giant spider has to be seen to be believed. Jane is still ‘absent’

(April 1945) ‘TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS’ (RKO, 76-mins) Director: Kurt Neumann. Johnny Weissmuller. Johnny Sheffield. Jane returns in the form of Brenda Joyce, with the longest hair in Hollywood – 39-inches, and an American accent. An archaeological team arrive in search of the lost Amazon city of Palmyria. Tarzan refuses to help them, but they trick Boy into helping them and go on anyway. Tarzan saves both the city’s relics and Boy in the nick of time


(January 1946) ‘TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN’ (RKO, 72-mins) Director: Kurt Neumann. Johnny Weissmuller. Brenda Joyce. Johnny Sheffield. Trader caravans are being ambushed by an evil leopard cult. Their leader is the beautiful, but deadly, High Priestess Lea (Acquanetta). Her twisted little brother is sent to spy on Tarzan and his family ... providing the perfect foil for Boy. Tarzan rescues four teachers, Boy, and Jane from the cult in a crashing finish Weissmuller got himself back in shape for this, and the villainess is very cool. ‘If an animal can act like a man, why not a man like an animal?’ Tarzan asks Cheeta. There’s a movie-poster for ‘Tarzan & The Leopard Woman’ on Rigsby’s wall in TV’s long-running sit-com ‘Rising Damp’

(April 1947) ‘TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS’ (RKO, 72-mins) Director: Kurt Neumann with regular Producer Sol Lesser. Johnny Weissmuller. Brenda Joyce. Johnny Sheffield. Animal trappers come to capture animals for the zoos. They want more than they are legally allowed and have King Farrod (Charles Trowbridge), a friend of Tarzan’s, killed to avoid the quota. Tarzan gets involved and rescues the animals and makes sure the King’s son, Prince Suli assumes the throne. This movie marks Boy’s last appearance. Johnny Sheffield (11 April 1931 – 15 October 2010), in a radical career-switch, went on to play Bomba, the Jungle Boy, in his own film series through Monogram movies, directed by Ford Beebe. The twelve low-budget films run from ‘Bomba, The Jungle Boy’ (1949) to ‘Lord Of The Jungle’ (1955)

(May 1948) ‘TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS’ (RKO, 68-mins) Director: Robert Florey. Producer: Sol Lesser. Johnny Weissmuller. Brenda Joyce. Tarzan travels to the forbidden island Aquatania, to free its people from corrupt High Priest Palanth (George Zucco). Tarzan dives from a perilously high cliff and battles a giant octopus before unmasking Aquatania’s pagan god and saving the day. Weissmuller’s last Tarzan, although he went on to star in sixteen low-budget ‘Jungle Jim’ movies – adapted from a rival comic-strip franchise created by Alex (‘Flash Gordon’) Raymond, some of which aren't too bad, and twenty-six episodes of a spin-off TV series

(1949) ‘TARZAN’S MAGIC FOUNTAIN’ (RKO, 73-mins) Director: Lee Sholem. Screenplay by Curt Siodmak and Henry Chandlee. Tarzan (Lex Barker) must protect a lost race who have discovered a fountain of youth from ruthless kidnappers. Jane (Brenda Joyce) is tricked into leading them to the hidden city. Elmo Lincoln has a cameo in this one. An exciting first Tarzan outing for Lex Barker, who makes an interesting Tarzan, filling Weissmuller’s shoes – or lack of them, admirably. In the last of her five contributions, Brenda Joyce becomes the only Jane to work with two Tarzan’s. She retires from movies, and dies in July 2009

(March 1950) ‘TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL’ (RKO, 74-mins) Director: Lee Sholem. Producer: Sol Lesser. Screenplay by Arnold Belgard and Hans Jacoby. Women are being kidnapped and a plague threatens to spread out of control. Tarzan (Lex Barker) rescues Jane (Vanessa Brown) and the other women before they are forced to repopulate a plague stricken city

(March 1951) ‘TARZAN'S PERIL’ (RKO, 79-mins) Director: Byron Haskin. Producer: Sol Leser. Lex Barker. Virginia Houston (as Jane). A ruthless slaver/ gunrunner has escaped from prison and returned to his evil ways. Tarzan must stop him from contributing to a tribal war and rescue Jane in an exciting climax. The first Tarzan to be actually filmed in African locations, it has some nice, authentic, African location footage…

(March 1952) ‘TARZAN’S SAVAGE FURY’ (RKO, 81-mins) Director: Cy Endfield. Lex Barker. Dorothy Hart. Another hunting party comes to Africa - this time lead by a man claiming to be Tarzan's cousin, the current Lord Greystoke (Charles Korvin). The man is actually a crook named Rokov and he hopes to steal a cache of diamonds from the Waziri. Even with a new Boy-like character, Joey (Tommy Carlton), running around with Tarzan, this movie isn’t very good

(1953) ‘TARZAN AND THE SHE-DEVIL’ (RKO, 75-mins) Director: Kurt Neumann. Lex Barker’s fifth and last appearance as Tarzan, with Joyce Mackenzie (Jane). Tarzan must keep ivory hunters, led by the She-Devil of the title (Monique van Vooren), from slaughtering a huge herd of elephants


(1955) ‘TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE’ (RKO, 73-mins) Director: Harold D Scuster. Producer: Sol Lesser. Screenplay: William Lively. Gordon Scott’s inauspicious debut as Tarzan, with Vera Miles (as Jill Hardy). Crooked hunters, with the unwitting help of a United Nations doctor and his beautiful assistant, travel to forbidden territory to trap their prey. The hunting party’s arrival angers Tarzan, who defeats them, rescues the doctor and his assistant, returning the jungle to normal. Scott redeems himself later (see below)…

(April 1957) ‘TARZAN AND THE LOST SAFARI’ (MGM, 86-mins) Director: Bruce Humberstone. Producer: John Croydon. The first Tarzan movie to be filmed in Eastman-color. Gordon Scott. Betta St. John (as Diana Penrod). After rescuing the passengers of a crashed plane, Tarzan leads them safely through the jungle. The natives of Opar have other ideas and harass the party along the way. A nice premise makes for an enjoyable movie. There is a wonderful children’s book adaptation of this movie. Also features Wilfred Hyde-White (as ‘Doodles’ Fletcher) and George Coulouris (as Carl Kraski)

(July 1958) ‘TARZAN’S FIGHT FOR LIFE’ (MGM, 86-mins) Director: H Bruce Humberstone. Producer: Sol Lesser (his final Tarzan). Screenplay: Thomas Hal Phillips. Gordon Scott. Eve Brent. Tarzan must convince the local natives that the ‘white doctor’ is a good thing, despite the efforts of a devious witch doctor who doesn’t want that to happen. Another Gordon Scott stinker…

(1958) ‘TARZAN AND THE TRAPPERS’ (Sol Lesser Productions, 74-mins) Directors: Charles F Haas, Sandy Howard, and uncredited H Bruce Humberstone. Gordon Scott. Eve Brent (as Jane). Tarzan battles a motley band of trappers... one after a lost treasure – another wants to murder Tarzan – ‘They Wont Rest Until They Capture The King Of The Jungle!’ Originally intended for a television series, three black-and-white episodes were edited together to make this slow movie

(1959) ‘TARZAN’S GREATEST ADVENTURE’ (88 minutes) Director: John Guillermin. With Gordon Scott and Sara Shane. He ape-man clashes with diamond-hunting baddies Anthony Quayle (Slade) and a young Sean Connery. There’s some violence early on, but it settles down into a reasonably entertaining yarn. Filmed on location in Africa, Scott plays an intelligent Tarzan and the pace never lets up! Slade and his cronies are traveling upriver to a hidden diamond mine. Along the way they kill and plunder, taking what they need. Tarzan must stop them before they get there and proceeds to pick off the henchmen one by one (when they aren't busy fighting amongst themselves), leaving just Slade left for the incredible finish

(1959) ‘TARZAN, THE APE MAN’ (82 minutes) Denny Miller. Joanna Barnes. A remake of the 1932 Weissmuller/ O'Sullivan film with colourised footage from earlier Weissmuller movies integrated into this film. Usually considered one of the worst Tarzan movie (I rank it a notch above Tarzan in Manhattan, 1989). In which Tarzan is never actually referred to by name. And, finally, the rubber leopard face is the funniest thing I've ever seen in a Tarzan movie!

(1960) ‘TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT’ (88 minutes) Gordon Scott. Betta St. John. Gordon Scott returns with another winner! This isn’t quite as good as Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure but it’s mighty close. Jock Mahoney, who plays Tarzan in the next film, is the villain! Tarzan, burdened with an assortment of stranded travelers, must deliver Coy Banton, a cold-hearted murderer, to the authorities in Mantu. Following them on their journey, and determined to stop them before they reach Mantu, are Banton’s equally cold-hearted father and brothers

(1962) ‘TARZAN GOES TO INDIA’ (86 minutes) Jock Mahoney. Tarzan travels to India to save hundreds of elephants that will be drowned when a dam (for a newly constructed power plant) is completed. With the help of Jai, the elephant boy, Tarzan manages to save the elephants and the power plant. Some critics seem not to care for Jock Mahoney’s portrayal of Tarzan, despite some attractive location filming…

(1963) ‘TARZAN’S THREE CHALLENGES’ (92 minutes) Jock Mahoney. Again Tarzan travels abroad- the time to the far east, championing a boy set to assume the throne, Tarzan must battle a challenger in an ancient ritual. Mahoney took ill while filming this movie and by the end he looks horrible. It is hard to believe Tarzan could best Woody Strode in the shape he was in!

(1966) ‘TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD’ (90 minutes) Mike Henry. Nancy Kovak. Tarzan travels to Mexico in an attempt to stop a group of mercenaries from murdering a looting a lost Incan civilization. With the help of a lion and a leopard, Tarzan tracks them down and makes sure justice is served. A kind of James Bond-meets-Tarzan theme with a trendy sixties feel to it. The Fritz Leiber ‘novelization’ works even more effectively

(1967) ‘TARZAN AND THE GREAT RIVER’ (88 minutes) Mike Henry. Diana Millay. A deadly leopard cult is sacking villages and enslaving their people to work in a hidden diamond mine. Tarzan defeats Barcuma, the cult leader, and frees the people

(1968) ‘TARZAN AND THE JUNGLE BOY’ (90 minutes) Mike Henry. A boy, presumed dead six years earlier, is found alive and well and living in the jungle. While Tarzan is trying to locate the boy, he gets mixed up in a tribal feud as they attempt to choose a successor for their dying chief. Another hopeless attempt at a Boy-like character…

(1970) ‘TARZAN’S DEADLY SILENCE’ (88 minutes) Ron Ely. Jock Mahoney & Woody Strode play the villains in this feature version of a two-part story from Ely’s television series. A madman called the Colonel is enslaving the locals and building himself a formidable army in the process. Tarzan, after temporarily losing his hearing, battles the military expert with the help of jungle animals and cunning tactics


(1970) ‘TARZAN’S JUNGLE REBELLION’ (92 minutes) Ron Ely. Ulla Stromstedt. Another movie made from a two-part story (The Blue Stone of Heaven) from Ely's television series. The Blue Stone of Heaven, according to legend, will give its owner incredible power. The evil Colonel Tatakombi wants it and doesn't intend to let Tarzan guide an archaeological team to it

(1982) ‘TARZAN, THE APE MAN’ (112 minutes) Miles O'Keeffe, Bo Derek. Another remake of the 1932 Weissmuller film. Tarzan doesn’t speak a word (he does grunt a lot) and Jane can’t seem to keep her clothes on. A nicely photographed movie but it still really stinks

(March 1984) ‘GREYSTOKE, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN’ (143 minutes) To follow-up his Oscar-winning ‘Chariots Of Fire’, Director Hugh Hudson attempts to re-boot the oft-filmed tale as an epic commentary on Victorian values, by returning to ERB’s original book, with added elements lifted from Philip Jose Farmer’s mock-biography ‘Tarzan Alive’. Christopher Lambert does a creditable job as the orphaned jungle aristocrat – although he’s never actually referred to as ‘Tarzan’. The opening portion of his early life (with Tali McGregor as infant, Peter Kyriakou at 1-year, Danny Potts at 5-years, and Eric Langlois at 12-years-old) is exceptionally well-done. Until he’s found and persuaded to swap his tree-house for the finery of his ancestral Scottish home. Cue an even better performance from Ralph Richardson in his final film, as Tarzan’s grandfather (the Earl of Greystoke), who tries to educate the lad in the ways of ‘civilised’ society. ‘Observer’ reviewer Philip French calls it ‘an ambitious/pretentious failure, it looks magnificent and features several memorable performances’, especially those of Ian Holm (Capitain Philippe D’Arnot), and Andie McDowell (as Jane Porter, with her voice dubbed by Glenn Close). Co-screenwriter Robert Towne replaced his own name on the credits with that of his own pet dog!

(1989) ‘TARZAN IN MANHATTAN’ (TV Movie, 100 minutes, DVD) Joe Lara. Kim Crosby. Cheetah is kidnapped and brought to New York to be used as an experimental test subject. Tarzan follows, meets Jane (a cab driver!) and her father, rescues the animals and foils the villain’s plans. The worst Tarzan movie ever made - the less said the better

(1996) ‘TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES: TARZAN’S RETURN’ (TV Movie, 100 minutes) Joe Lara. Cory Everson. Joe Lara is back - and he’s improved. The climax takes place in Pellucidar; something never seen before in a Tarzan film. Tarzan is (reasonably) intelligent but what is the deal with those boots!?

(1998) ‘TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY’ (83 minutes, video, VCD, DVD) Casper Van Dien (of ‘Starship Troopers’) struts his beefcake stuff as the jungle hero. He’s in England, just about to marry his voluptuous soulmate Jane March (as Jane) when they’re called back to Africa where evil mercenaries are searching (again) for the treasures of lost city of Opar. A lot of nice scenery and a decent (though short and very soft-spoken) Tarzan. More hocus-pocus than any other Tarzan movie and its not entirely clear why Opar needed Tarzan's help - they seem more than capable of taking care of themselves. US-Germany-Australia/ Director: Carl Schenkel

(1999) ‘TARZAN OF THE APES’ (48 minutes, animated, video) From Sony Wonder Home Video. Produced by Diane Eskenazi. A cheaply made, direct-to-video, animated film trying to capitalize on the Disney feature film. Some embarrassing songs and poor animation make this ‘movie’ very easy to dislike

(1999) ‘DISNEY’S TARZAN’ (100 minutes, animated feature, video, VCD, DVD) Tony Goldwyn. Minnie Driver. Disney does Tarzan and they do a wonderful job! Fantastic animation highlights this delightful story of Tarzan's youth and his first encounter with Jane. Tarzan races through the jungle like never before. The scene where Tarzan and Jane exchange names is terrific!

(2002) ‘DISNEY’S TARZAN AND JANE’ (70 minutes, animated, video, DVD) Michael T. Weiss, Oliva d'Abo. Tarzan and Jane celebrate their first anniversary together in this direct-to-video sequel. The character development, plot, and animation are all markedly inferior to the feature film version, but the movie is still quality kid's fare

(July 2016) ‘THE LEGEND OF TARZAN’ (110-minutes) Dir: David Yates. Tarzan is ‘True Blood’s’ Alexander Skarsgård in 1884 as a 30-something back in England married to Jane (Margot Robbie) in his stately pile insisting ‘my name isn’t Tarzan, it’s John Clayton III, 5th Earl of Greystoke’. There are flashbacks to his meeting Jane, before they arrive back in Africa to encounter Samuel L Jackson’s US Civil War veteran, while Christoph Waltz (‘Spectre’) is a suave Belgian villain hungry for the diamonds of Opar


FILM SERIALS: 

(1920) ‘THE SON OF TARZAN’ (National Film Corporation Of America) 15-episode movie-serial (253 minutes) P. Dempsey Tabler. Karla Schramm. Kamuela Searle. This movie does a decent job of following the ERB book, not many Tarzan movies even try. Tarzan's son, Jack, runs away to Africa and gets involved with the kidnapping of a small girl. In the process of rescuing her (through many chapters), Jack becomes known as Korak the Killer, the Son of Tarzan. Both Tarzan and Korak are in on the finale, although Korak is the star of the movie. The big finish has Korak tied to a stake and rescued by Tantor, the elephant. Searle is terrific as Korak, but Tabler is completely out of place as the ape-man. (1920) ‘THE SON OF TARZAN’ - feature film version of serial (111 minutes) P. Dempsey Tabler. Karla Schramm. Kamuela Searle

(1921) ‘THE ADVENTURES OF TARZAN’ (Numa pictures) 15-episode movie-serial (video) Elmo Lincoln. Louise Lorraine. Tarzan battling a pair of villains in search of the lost treasures of Opar, using a map tatooed on Jane's shoulder. She manages to get captured often, but Tarzan is there to rescue her each and every time. The copy I have is very poor and hard to watch. A confusing romp with tons of action serving no purpose. Based on ER Burroughs’ novels ‘The Return Of Tarzan’ & ‘The Jewels Of Opar’

(1928) ‘TARZAN THE MIGHTY’ 15-episode movie-serial. Frank Merrill. Natalie Kingston

(1929) ‘TARZAN THE TIGER’ (Universal Studios) 15-episode movie-serial (video) The last of the silent Tarzans! Frank Merrill as an extremely well-built and fairly believable ape-man. Natalie Kingston as Jane. Based on ERB's novel ‘Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar’, the story once again deals with La and her amazing lost city, and Tarzan, battling amnesia, fights his way through

(1933) ‘TARZAN THE FEARLESS’ - 12 Chapter Serial. Buster Crabbe. Jacquelene Wells. (1933) ‘TARZAN THE FEARLESS’ - feature version of serial (85 minutes - video, DVD) Buster Crabbe. Jacquelene Wells. A safari comes looking for a friend of Tarzan, Dr. Brooks. Brooks has left in search of a lost temple and this, of course, excites the crooked safari guides. Lots of action and mischief follow. This movie (I haven't seen the serial version) is saved only by the cool shots of Tarzan swinging through the trees. The female lead is Mary, not Jane

(1935) ‘THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN’ – 12 Chapter Serial (video) Herman Brix. Ula Holt. Tarzan joins an expedition to the jungles of Guatemala in search of the Dead City and its priceless Lost Goddess. Tarzan rescues his old friend D’Arnot from Mayan captivity and, ultimately, wins the Goddess. Tarzan as an intelligent gentleman. Herman Brix looks and acts (at least for the opening chapter) more like the Tarzan of the books than any actor before or since. Too bad the story is pathetic. The two movies made from this serial make even less sense. (1935) ‘THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN’ - movie version of serial (75 minutes) Herman Brix. Ula Holt. (1938) ‘TARZAN AND THE GREEN GODDESS’ - 2nd feature from of 1935 serial (72 minutes) Herman Brix. Ula Holt

TV SERIES: 

(September 1966-April 1968) ‘TARZAN’ 57-episodes. The first Tarzan television series ran from September 1966 to April 1968, for a total of 57 episodes. I saw them in syndication and they were my first exposure to the wonders of Edgar Rice Burroughs! Ron Ely played an intelligent Tarzan and I love the show

(1976) ‘TARZAN: LORD OF THE JUNGLE’ Filmation. 36-episodes. Tarzan returned to television in 1976 as an animated Saturday morning show (originally titled: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle). The voice of Tarzan was provided by Robert Ridgely. This series (currently hard to find!) is fondly remembered for its exciting, though limited, rotoscoped animation

(1991-1994) ‘TARZAN’ 75-episodes. A new live-action adventure series with Wolf Larson portraying Tarzan as an environmentalist-protector of the jungle and its creatures. A series with very little going for it, beyond Ron Ely appearing as a guest villain

(1996-1997) ‘TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES’ 20-episodes. With Joe Lara as the ape-man, the premiere movie shows some promise - which the series doesn’t quite live up to. A series which relies more on sword & sorcery magic/hocus-pocus than ERB

(2001) ‘DISNEY’S LEGEND OF TARZAN’ 39-episodes. Picking up where the feature film left off, with animation well below the big-screen version, it’s nevertheless an enjoyable weekly dose of TV-Tarzan

USA COMIC-STRIP SERIALS: 

TARZAN’ from 7th January 1929 drawn by Harold ‘Hal’ R Foster
(Sunday strip by Rex Maxon from 15th March 1931)
From 1937-1945 by Burne Hogarth, then again from 1947 to 1950
Rubimor (Amilcar Ruben Moreira) from 1945 to 1947
Also Bob Lubbers (Daily and Sunday strips from Summer 1950 to 1954), Joe Kubert (1972 DC Comics ‘Tarzan no.207-214’), John Buscema (launched ‘Tarzan’ for Marvel comics in 1977) and Gil Kane (Sunday pages 1979 to 1980)
Russ Manning, daily strip from 1967 to 1972, and Sunday strip 1967 to 1979, plus Dell and Whitman comic-book covers, ‘The Burroughs Bulletin’ fanzine from July 1947, European ‘Tarzan’ projects, and other work. Scripted by Don Kraar from 1982 to 1995
Sunday strip by Gray Morrow from 1983 to 2001, after which it continued as a reprint series

UK COMIC-STRIP SERIALS:


PILOT’ (Amalgamated Press) includes a weekly serial reprinting US newspaper strips, 1937-1938

TARZAN COMIC’ (Peters/ United Features) 1950 (four 68-page gravure issues), to October 1951 (fifteen 36-page issues)

TARZAN: THE GRAND ADVENTURE COMIC’ (Westworld) 15 Sept 1951-3 April 1953 (volume 1 four-colour 12-page tabloid, 6d – opening front-page strip ‘Tarzan The Victorious’, smaller volume 2 format from 1 Aug 1952, volume 3 36-issues, it then becomes…

TARZAN ADVENTURES’ (Westworld/ United Features) 8 April-26 December 1959 (344 weekly issues, each volume 52 issues except volume 9 which is 32 issues) 28-pages US reprints, with cover art by George Bunting (volume 3), James Bleach (v4), J&M Thomas (v5), A Graham (v6), James Cawthorn (v7), Drummond Riddell (v8), and King- Ganteaume (v9)

TARZAN: WORLD ADVENTURE LIBRARY’ (World/ Dell) May-August 1967, four 68-page issues

TV TORNADO’ (City) includes a weekly strip by artist Don Lawrence from no.1 14 January 1967-1968, then ‘TV21’ 1968-1970, and ‘TV COMIC’ 1971-1976 (Polystyle)

TARZAN OF THE APES’ (Top Sellers/ Dell) 1970 – one 36-page issue, then 1971-1975 monthly. ‘TARZAN OF THE APES’ (Top Sellers/ Dell) 1972, one 260-page issue, US reprints

TARZAN OF THE APES: SPECIAL SUPER ADVENTURE’ (Williams/ Dell) 1972 – two 52-page issues

TARZAN WEEKLY’ (Byblos) 11 June 1977, 32-page US reprints

TARZAN SPECIAL’ (Byblos) May 1978-November 1981 (ten Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter issues)

TARZAN MONTHLY’ (Byblos) 1980 (one 68-page issue), 18 February 1981-25 February 1982 (thirteen 52-page issues) US & foreign reprints

With thanks to www.tarzanmovieguide.com