Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #22
George B. French as Binns, the sailor, in "Tarzan of the Apes" (1918)
George B. French as Professor Clements, flea circus proprietor,
in the 1926 Hal Roach Our Gang comedy short, "Thundering Fleas".
In the novel “Tarzan of the Apes,” the young Tarzan,
living with a tribe of apes, teaches himself to read English by breaking
into his dead parents’ cabin and reading the childrens’ primers within.
He is unable to speak a human language until adulthood, when he rescues
the French naval officer, Lieutenant D’Arnot, who teaches him French.
In the 1918 film adaptation, D’Arnot is replaced by
the sympathetic swab Binns, who saves Lord and Lady Greystoke from his
fellow mutineers and is marooned in Africa for his troubles. After ten
years of privation and slavery, he escapes and seeks the Greystokes, finding
their son, instead. Binns teaches Tarzan English before departing for civilization
to bring a rescue party.
Binns is played by George B. French, a prolific actor
of the silent and early sound era. Born in Storm Lake, Iowa on April 14,
1883, French began his career with Universal in 1912 and appeared in Christie
Comedies for several years.
French spent five years as John Barrymore’s dialog
director, and acted until illness forced him to retire in 1949. He died
June 9, 1961 of a heart attack in Hollywood, survived by his wife, sister
and daughter, actress Louise Truax.
Above, French as Binns in “Tarzan of the Apes,” and
as Professor Clement, flea circus proprietor, in the 1926 Hal Roach Our
Gang short “Thundering Fleas.”