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Issue 0625



TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS
Starring Johnny Weissmuller ~ No. 9
RKO 1945




THE STORY
 
While on his way to meet Jane returning from England, Tarzan  rescues an Amazon from a black panther. Jane arrives accompanied Sir Guy Henderson's archeological expedition. The scientists have recognized the bracelet worn by Jane as being of the design associated with a fabled Amazon society rumoured to exist in a hidden African valley. Tarzan refuses to help them but Boy, believing that he is aiding the cause of civilization, leads them to the secret valley of the Palyrians. The safari is captured by the Amazons but the Amazon that Tarzan had rescued agrees to help Boy and the party escapes. They proceed to loot the tribe's treasure chamber where Henderson is accidentally killed and the Amazon is stabbed, but is able to alarm the other Amazons before she dies. The woman warriors kill most of the party. They recapture Boy and sentence him to death. Cheetah reports to Tarzan who leaves the two surviving safari members to die in quicksand. He returns the stolen treasure in exchange for Boy's freedom. 
CREDITS
CAST
Johnny Weissmuller: Tarzan
Brenda Joyce: Jane
Johnny Sheffield: Boy
Henry Stephenson: Sir Guy Henderson, the Archeologist
Maria Ouspenskaya: Amazon Queen 
Barton MacLane: Ballister 
Donald Douglas: Anders 
Steven Geray: Brenner
J.M. Kerrigan: Splivens
Shirley O'Hara: Athena
Frederic Brunn: Latour
Frank Darien: Dinghy Skipper 
Lionel Royce: Basov 
 
 

 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Director: Kurt Neumann
Writer: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters)
Writer: John Jacoby and Marjorie L. Pfaelzer
Producer: Sol Lesser
Associate Producer: Kurt Neumann
Cinematography: Archie Stout
Film Editing: Robert O. Crandall
Production Design: Phil Paradise
Art Direction: Walter Koessler
Makeup Department: Norbert Miles
Assistant Director: Scott R. Beal
Art Department: James Altwies
Sound Department: Jean L. Speak
Stunts: Babe DeFreest and Paul Stader 
Stunt Double: Shirley O'Hara 
Wardrobe: Earl Moser
Musical Director: Paul Sawtell
Second Camera Operator: Fleet Southcott

TRIVIA



MINI-BIOS ON THE SUPPORTING CAST
Maria OuspenskayaMaria Ouspenskaya: Born July 29, 1876 in Tula, Russia and died December 3, 1949 in Los Angeles, California of a stroke.
She was the daughter of a lawyer and studied singing at the Warsaw Conservatory and acting at Adasheff's School of the Drama in Moscow. She received her practical training as an actress touring stock in the Russian provinces and then joined the Moscow Art Theatre. It was here that she first worked under the direction of the great Stanislavski, whose "Method" she would go on to promote for the remainder of her life. She came to America with the Art Theatre in 1922 and remained after they returned to Moscow to become a dominant Broadway actress for more than a decade. In 1929 she founded the School of Dramatic Art in New York. It was to help keep the school funded that she accepted her first Hollywod film, Dodsworth, in 1936. (She had appeared in a few movies in Russia.) This began a lucrative association, for Ouspenskaya, Hollywood and the viewing public, that would last for more than a dozen years and two dozen films. Very tiny and hunched over, with gray scraggly hair, a squatty face,.thick-lipped and beady eyes combined with a Slavic accent, she had a powerful screen presence. During WWII she did much canteen work for the armed services and was made an honorary member of the crew of the U.S.S. New York.   Ref: IMDB
Filmography Highlights: Cricket on the Hearth (1915)(Russia) ~ Dodsworth (1936) ~ Conquest (1937) ~ Judge Hardy and Son (1939) ~ Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) ~ Waterloo Bridge (1940) ~ Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) ~ Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) ~ A Kiss in the Dark (1949)

Shirley O'Hara: Born August 15, 1924 in Rochester, Minnesota and died on December 13, 2002 in Calabasas, California.
Besides making films, she was a movie critic for The New Republic, a Los Angeles based newspaper, during the forties and did live theatre. Through the '50s and '70s she did a multitude of television shows.
Filmography Highlights: Step Lively (1943) ~ Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943) ~ Falcon Out West, The (1944) ~ Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) ~ Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1947) ~ The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1961) ~ Rocky (1976) ~ Getting Wasted (1980)
Henry StephensonHenry Stephenson: Born  Henry S. Garroway in Granada, British West Indies on April 16, 1871 and died on April 24, 1956 in San Francisco, California. He was educated in England and began his career on the stage in London before moving to New York. He made a few silent films before the sound era, but then became firmly established as one of Hollywood’s finest character actors and had a long career.
Filmography Highlights: What Every Woman Knows (1934) ~ Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) ~ Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) ~ Charge of the Light Brigade, The (1936) ~ The Prince and the Pauper (1937) ~ The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) ~ Down Argentine Way (1940) ~ Mr. Lucky (1943) ~ Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) ~ The Return of Monte Cristo (1946) ~ Of Human Bondage (1946) ~ Oliver Twist (1951) ~  Challenge to Lassie (1949) 

Don Douglas: Born August 24, 1905 in Kinleyside, Scotland and died December 31, 1945 in Los Angeles, California (appendectomy complications). He appeared in 66 films starting in 1929 with The Great Garbo. He also worked as a stage actor and in light opera.
Filmography Highlights: The Great Gabbo (1929) ~ Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round (1934) ~ Judge Hardy's Children (1938) ~ Calling Philo Vance (1940) ~ Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) ~ Sergeant York (1941) ~ The Falcon Out West (1944) ~ Tall in the Saddle (1944) ~ Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) ~ Gilda (1946) ~ Powder River Gunfire (1948)
 
 

REVIEWS
Hollywood Film Daily
Sol has turned out another entertaining pic based on the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with sufficient variety to whet the satisfaction of young and old alike. Cheta, the chimpanzee, still supplies the comedy in his ingratiating manner, and Johnny Sheffield handles the role of Boy in credible style. Complemented with such seasoned performers as Madame Maria Ouspenskaya and Henry Stephenson, director Kurt Neumann has injected enough jungle business into the somewhat mild, however, fantastic, screenplay to add the required pace and action. In this one, Boy led to believe that he is aiding the cause of civilization, disregards Tarzan's refusal to help a group of scientists in their search for the Palmyrians, a tribe of women warriors, and leads them to the Amazons' secret valley. On arrival, the men discover a fabulous gold supply which they attempt to steal. Boy is about to be sacrificed to a Sun god for his misdeed when Tarzan saves him by retrieving the stolen ornaments of the god.

Motion Picture Daily

Packed with action and thrills, "Tarzan and the Amazons" is one of the best of the Tarzan series, not only in its original story content, but because of an excellent supporting cast, able direction and photography, all of which make the film good box office. Tarzan and his son are eagerly awaiting the jungle lord's wife, Jane, from England. As the apeman heads downstream to meet his wife, he pauses to rescue an Amazon from the clutches of a black panther, returning the girl to her homeland beyond the mountains. Tarzan's wife arrives accompanied by a group of scientists who desire to obtain information concerning the Amazons, which is refused by Tarzan. The apeman's son, however, leads the party to the lost city of the Amazons where the party repays good treatment with rifle fire and looting. The warlike women, although their losses are heavy, kill all but two of the visitors and capture Tarzan's son, who is doomed to die. Tarzan arrives in the nick o' time, for the rescue, after killing the two scientists who had escaped, and returning the stolen loot.

The jungle scenes with lions, leopards, monkeys and elephants, are highly realistic, and the excellent photography of the lost city of the Amazons makes an incredibly beautiful picture. Johnny Weissmuller in this one has much more ease as Tarzan, making him a powerful and thoroughly sympathetic character, while Johnny Sheffield, as Tarzan's son, is also entirely credible. Brenda Joyce is Jane, wife of Tarzan, and she plays her part with simplicity and grace. Henry Stephenson, as the leader of the scientists, is excellent in support, and so is Maria Ouspenskaya as the Amazon Queen. Barton MacLane makes a strong an evil villain. Others of the fine supporting cast are: Don Douglas, J. M. Kerrigan, Shirley O'Hara and Steven Geray.

Sol Lesser, who recently signed a 20-year producing deal for the Tarzan characters, was in charge of production and Kurt Neumann produced at a thrill-a-minute clip. The screenplay, by Hans Jacoby and Marjorie L. Pfaelzer, from the characters by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is tense and tight, and Archie Stout has performed a magnificent job of photography. - Ed Smith.

Variety

Patterned along the fanciful lines which have built and held a generous public, "Tarzan and the Amazons," latest to exploit the adventures of Africa's No. 1 jungle lord, adheres to the pace set by predecessors in series and emerges a capital escapist film. Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan is in there pitching with his usual aplomb, Brenda Joyce is a charming Jane and Johnny Sheffield again is Boy. Screenplay by Hans Jacoby and Marjorie L. Pfaelzer, after measuring opening plunges Tarzan into another of his inner-Africa excursions. This time he is faced with protecting a tribe of Amazons who for centuries have dwelt in a hidden city of fabulous wealth. When a party of archeologists try to prevail upon him to lead them to this undiscovered city of antiquity, Tarzan refuses, whereupon Boy, who knows the way, offers to guide them. All this builds up to a fast-moving climax which is entirely satisfactory for this type of entertainment. Sol Lesser has tossed plenty of production values in picture, on which Kurt Neumann acted as associate producer and director. Neumann, after slow start, kept his action moving and made characters as believable as series allows. Archie Stout's photography was up to standard, and Walter Koessler provided proper atmospheric settings. Star trio acquitted themselves with their usual flair for character roles and had benefit of a new Cheta, the chimpanzee, who was responsible for a number of laughs. Henry Stephenson headed supporting cast, standout in his role, and Barton MacLane did neat job as heavy. Balance of cast were up to par. 

FAN REVIEWS
.
The third film from the Tarzan DVD box set volume two starring Johnny Weissmuller is called Tarzan and the Amazon Women (1945). This review contains a few spoilers but only from the first half of the film.

This movie was pretty good for a Weissmuller epic. After a two movie absence following O'Sullivan's resignation, finally a new Jane appears in the beautiful blond form of Brenda Joyce, who would in turn become the third most prolific screen Jane of all time (following Lydie Dernier and Mareen O'Sullivan) with five films. Tarzan and Boy are naturally very happy to have her back at last. There is a much more realistic crocodile battle than the stock footage of the old version. The usual band of caucasian adventurers show up, and of course, one of them is an honorable and noble old professor, a friend of Jane's late father named Sir Guy. Two lion cubs are orphaned, and in a scene that reminded me of Golden Lion, Tarzan adopts them. 

The plot, while quite similar to the typical Weissmuller formula, goes further in the direction of the original Burroughs formula. Cheeta takes on the role of Nkima in several instances. The actors are very confident with her-- even Jane hugs her to her bosom. The most obvious similarity to a Burroughs novel is the use of a "lost city." Yes, the city of the Amazon women, which lies in a valley surrounded by almost impassable peaks (except of course for the hidden pass.) 

At the risk of alienating the 1930s fans of the O'Sullivan years, the filmmakers decided to include this Burroughsian science fantasy element. This is not a tribe of black renegade Amazons, the female counterparts to a Leopard-man cult or something like that. No, this is an actual city of caucasian Amazon women, as in the Caucasus mountain area of Europe. Specific ties with Greek mythology are not obvious. There is no substantial connection with the Amazons that Hercules met, even though they appear in most respects pretty much the same. Yet they do worship a large pagan idol, which is described as the Sun or Son, I could not be sure which was meant. Apparently reasonable and civilized enough, unfortunately they have a strict rule about any outsiders finding them, and the time comes when their patience is exhausted by the plundering intruders, and they attempt to sacrifice Boy by giving him a goblet of poison. Boy had, as usual, mistaken the intentions of the white explorers as noble (he is highly impressed with their telescopes and microscopes, etc), and without Tarzan's knowledge had led them to the lost city, of which previously only Tarzan had been trusted by the Amazons to know about. The backgrounds and matt paintings and scenery of this movie are very Burroughsian.

One scene that I greatly appreciated was a quicksand scene. I always love any quicksand scene in a Tarzan movie, and this one was not only fatal but involved TWO men. It truly demonstrated that the movie Tarzan can be just as cold blooded as the book Tarzan.

For me the main problem with Weissmuller is his relatively high pitched voice. I realized that it is not so much his limited vocabulary that seems different from the book Tarzan, but the fact that he does not have a deep masculine voice. Kind of an odd voice, in fact, and strange I have never heard anyone mention it before. If he had a deep voice I don't think I would hardly notice his vocabulary, but because of that aspect I notice it all the more. One great quote from Jane, and I quote from memory:

"Oh Tarzan, what right do you have to sit in judgement on men who are trying to help the world?" As usual, it is Tarzan who is the truest judge of character.

Joyce does about as good a job as possible replacing the unreplaceable O'Sullivan.

-Steve Allsup
Ziegfeld Bill for Tarzan & Amazons - 1945


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