The First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Volume 6304

ERB of the Silver Screen
A Resource Guide to the Movies of Edgar Rice Burroughs
An ongoing ERBzine and ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. ENCYCLOPEDIA project


From TARZAN ON FILM by Scott Tracy Griffin


Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #21

Colin Kenny
In the novel “Tarzan of the Apes,” one obstacle to the ape-man’s love for Jane is his cousin, William Cecil Clayton. With Tarzan’s father, John Clayton, presumed dead in Africa, Cecil holds the heredity title of Lord Greystoke—and is courting Jane Porter when they are stranded in the jungle.

In the 1918 film adaptation, Cecil is played by Colin Kenny, complete with a mustache made for twirling. Cecil continues to complicate things in the sequel, “The Romance of Tarzan,” until Tarzan’s true identity is revealed and his birthright restored.

“Apes” was one of the first U.S. film credits for Kenny, a stage actor in his native Ireland who emigrated to the United States in 1917. Kenny, born Oswald Joseph Collins in Dublin on December 4, 1888, appeared in scores of films, though in his later career he was reduced to uncredited extra roles. He died December 2, 1968 in Los Angeles.

Above, Kenny as he appeared in "Tarzan of the Apes," and in an uncredited role in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" (1959).

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.”

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #23
As the January 27, 1918 “Tarzan of the Apes” premiere at New York's Broadway Theatre approached, National Film Corporation ramped up the ballyhoo, promising “The Wonder Story of the Age.”
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #24
Neophyte publicity man Harry Reichenbach was hired to promote “Tarzan of the Apes,” and he was to make his fortune and his name on the picture. The first order of business was stringing a 100-foot banner, visible 20 blocks away, across the street from the Broadway Theatre to the Continental Hotel, announcing the film, and then papering the city with handbills announcing the film’s debut.

In his book “Phantom Fame,” Reichenbach detailed the coup he pulled on the Saturday night before the Sunday opening: Reichenbach dressed the trained orangutan Prince Charley in a tuxedo and tried to register at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York on a busy Saturday night, as the lobby was full of wealthy society people.

Charley, unconcerned with appearances, was more captivated by spinning around and around in the revolving door and screeching at the other guests in the lobby. Reichenbach and his ape were hauled away to police court for disturbing the peace, but his gamble made the front pages in articles titled “Simian Royalty Steps Out” and “Jungle Prince Makes Society Debut”. Reichenbach, who had eschewed a retainer fee in favor of a royalty on receipts, later claimed he made $150,000 for representing the picture. However, Reichenbach’s greatest Tarzan publicity coup was yet to come.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #25
One hundred years ago tonight, on Sunday, January 27, 1918, at 8:30 p.m. “Tarzan of the Apes,” starring Elmo Lincoln and Enid Markey as Tarzan and Jane, debuted at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. The film ran for 130 minutes on 10 reels, and the line stretched around the block for the screening—which turned away 5,000 customers after selling out.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #26
Following the Sunday night premiere of “Tarzan of the Apes,” the film began playing twice daily to sold-out audiences, in a 2:30 matinee and an 8:30 evening performance. Admission ranged from $.25 to $1.50. On February 9, 1918, the industry paper “Exhibitors Trade Review” announced that after the first Monday showings, the first three screenings had earned $2,100, nearly $36,000 in 2018 dollars.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #27
In an establishing shot for "Tarzan of the Apes," Elmo Lincoln perched on a tree branch, replicating the pose on the novel's dust jacket art by Fred J. Arting. The pose was also recreated on a film poster, with Enid Markey as Jane by Tarzan's side. Later Grosset & Dunlap reprints of the novel featured a painted version of Arting's composition by an uncredited artist.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #28
In 2012, writer, director and producer Al Bohl released “Tarzan, Lord of the Louisiana Jungle,” a 74-minute documentary about filming “Tarzan of the Apes” on location in Morgan City, Louisiana, in August 1917. Shot and edited with his daughter, cinematographer Allison Bohl DeHart, the film has won several awards on the festival circuit.

See the ERBzine coverage of Al and Allison's TARZAN, LORD OF THE LOUISIANA project at:
A multitude of behind the scenes stories and photos in over 40 Webpages.

Al Bohl's award-winning documentary, "Tarzan, Lord of the Louisiana Jungle," is still available for purchase and highly recommended.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #29
Elmo Lincoln was married three times and had one child, daughter Marci’a. Although her parents were divorced and she was raised by her mother, Marci’a had a warm relationship with Elmo, whom she remembered as a good father who liked to view his old silent films with her. In 1999, Marci’a published a memoir, “My Father, Elmo Lincoln, the Original Tarzan.”

More about Marci'a and her dad in ERBzine at:




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