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A Resource Guide to the Movies of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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FILM CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
PART XVII
From TARZAN ON FILM by Scott Tracy Griffin
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #161
Having killed Jane in his “Tazan Finds a Son!” script, screenwriter Cyril Hume introduced a new love interest for Tarzan in his screenplay for the succeeding Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan film.

“Sylvia Starke, International Glamour Girl No. 1” comes to the African jungle to hunt big game, and becomes romantically involved with the ape man. Brenda Frazier, a popular American debutante of the Depression era (and November 14, 1938 Life magazine cover girl) dubbed “Glamour Girl No 1” may have been an inspiration for the storyline.

After MGM executives decided to resurrect Jane during April 1939 re-shoots of “Son!”, Hume’s Glamour Girl script was rejected on July 7, 1939. Hume asked to leave the project and Miles Connolly and Paul Gangelin were hired to retool the script into a more conventional story, “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure,” with Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) remaining a part of Tarzan’s nuclear family.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #162
With the departure of scripter Cyril Hume, writers Miles Connolly and Paul Gangelin re-worked the script to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio’s fifth Tarzan film into a more conventional ape-man adventure, “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure.”

Professor Elliot (Reginald Owen) arrives in the jungle with a group of scientists, seeking a lost tribe. After two of the party, Medford (Tom Conway) and Vandermeer (Philip Dorn) realize that Boy (Johnny Sheffield) has a secret supply of gold nuggets (his trusty slingshot ammunition), the pair take Boy and Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) hostage, forcing Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) to lead them to the ore, then trapping him in a ravine. The duo then coerce Jane and Boy to guide their escape through hostile Joconi country, with Tarzan in pursuit.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #163

Perry, with “Secret Treasure” extras, died in Ocala on November 22, 1987, 
at age 79, survived by his three children and six grandchildren.
After the filming of “Tarzan Finds a Son!” in Silver Springs, Florida in spring, 1939, Ocala location manager Newt Perry took a job with the tourist attraction Wakulla Springs. He extended an invitation to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios to join him in his new locale, and the studio complied, filming parts of “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” (1941) there. Perry was also instrumental in bringing the production of "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954) to Florida's crystal-clear springs.

Following World War II, Perry helped develop the Weeki Wachee Springs, performing in shows there with his daughter. In 1950, Perry and his second wife, diver Dorothy “Dot” Roederer, moved to Texas to work at Aquerena Springs. The couple later returned to Ocala to open a swimming school that is still in operation.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #164

Swimmer Newt Perry helps position the diving rig.
In Wakulla Springs, Florida, Lloyd Knechtel, ASC, worked as the location cameraman developing photographic effects for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s production of “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure.” Underwater shots of the actors and their animal co-stars were captured via a specially constructed diving bell lowered from a barge. Knechtel detailed the unique challenges of the shoot in an August 1941 article for “American Cinematographer” magazine, “Filming Underwater Movies From the ‘Hole in the Water’.” 
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #165

Newt Perry and the crew help Happy onto the raft.
Writing for “American Cinematographer” magazine, “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” location cameraman Lloyd Knechtel revealed secrets of the 1941 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer shoot in Wakulla Springs, Florida, which featured Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan’s local stand-in, Jean Knapp) and Boy (Johnny Sheffield) disporting in the crystal-clear water with a young elephant.

Knechtel noted that the submarine footage of the swimming pachyderm was a fortunate accident—Happy the elephant fell off the raft, as Knechtel’s camera rolled in his diving bell.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #166

Knapp and Weissmuller climb a tree above Wakulla Springs with Johnny Sheffield (Boy).
As with the previous Florida Tarzan shoot, Maureen O’Sullivan (Jane) did not travel to Wakulla Springs to film location footage for “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” (1941). She was doubled by Jean Knapp, a co-ed at Florida State College for Women and a member of the Tarpons synchronized swim team. Knapp worked for three weeks, insured for $5,000, and performed stunts like drifting to the bottom of the creek for Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) to bring to the surface. Knapp, sitting in a canoe with her arms and legs bound to portray a captive Jane, proved too buoyant to sink, so 15 pounds of lead weights were wrapped around her abdomen, requiring steely faith that Weissmuller could get her out of the water in time.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #167
Within two months of wrapping re-shoots for “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” on October 8, 1941, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer went into production on its sixth ape-man picture—the third of three options purchased from independent producer Sol Lesser in July 1938—in December, as “Secret Treasure” was readied for a holiday release.

The film, with a working title of “Tarzan Against the World,” offered a novel twist, taking the Tarzan family to the Big Apple, with the finished production titled “Tarzan’s New York Adventure.” To lure a reluctant Maureen O’Sullivan back to the franchise, the studio promised to dress her in couture by Howard Shoup. Richard Thorpe returned to direct his fourth and final MGM Tarzan movie.

Released in August 1942, the film had the quickest turnaround time for an MGM Tarzan sequel, and had grossed more than $1 million (against a budget of $707,166) by 1943. At 71 minutes, it is the shortest of the MGM Tarzan films.

However, the loss of MGM’s European film market to the horrors of World War II resulted in a studio belt-tightening, and MGM declared it was out of the Tarzan business, releasing Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan from their contracts.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #168
The plot to "Tarzan's New York Adventure" (1942), took the ape man to civilization for the first time in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's six talkie films.

Circus owner Buck Rand (Charles Bickford) and his trainer Manchester Mountford (Chill Wills), trapping animals in the jungle, meet Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) and Boy (Johnny Sheffield). Boy proudly puts his trained elephants through their paces for the avaricious showmen, who realize that the lad would be a star attraction in their big top.

Attacked by hostile Joconi tribesmen, the circus men flee to New York with Boy, leaving Tarzan and Jane for dead in a raging bushfire. Cheeta the chimp awakens Tarzan and Jane, who escape the fire and plan their rescue of boy. Arriving at a trading outpost, they are fitted with civilized clothes and hitch a ride on a mail plane bound for the Big Apple, where Tarzan and Cheeta try to navigate the concrete jungle with humorous results.

Following the scant clues left by Boy’s abductors, Tarzan and Jane enlist the help of nightclub singer Connie Beach (Virginia Grey) and her boyfriend Jimmie Shields (Paul Kelly), who piloted the men to Africa. A courtroom showdown with the circus’s devious lawyer (Charles Lane) ends with Tarzan and Jane losing custody of Boy.

Racing through the city, pursued by the authorities, Tarzan arrives at the circus, where he enlists the aid of the elephants in rescuing Boy and administering justice to the corrupt owners. Afterward, the sympathetic judge (Russell Hicks) restores custody to Tarzan and Jane, who return to Africa with Boy and Cheeta.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #169
In “Tarzan’s New York Adventure” (1942), Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), fleeing the authorities to rescue Boy (Johnny Sheffield) from the circus, dives from the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River to escape.

The dive was not shot on the Brooklyn Bridge, but was filmed with a dummy dropped from the scenic tower of MGM's Lot 3 into the tank underneath. Tarzan’s jump was compared to that by Steve Brodie, who became a celebrity following his claim to have jumped from the bridge (at a height of 120-135 feet) and lived on July 23, 1886.

Brodie later capitalized on his alleged feat (he was sometimes accused of faking the stunt with a dummy) by opening a Saloon at 114 Bowery and appearing in vaudeville productions; “Take a Brodie” became popular slang for a suicidal leap or venture. Born Christmas Day, 1861, Brody died of natural causes on January 31, 1901 in San Antonio, Texas.

Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #170

Author Burroughs in his army uniform
“Tarzan’s New York Adventure” received a unique world premiere. The film was airlifted to Iceland for the May 1942 debut as entertainment for the U.S. troops stationed there. It was transferred from 35mm to 16mm for easier transport and dropped by parachute onto the military base. This was the first of 1,200 films shown free to U.S. armed forces during wartime.

Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs, having witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor firsthand, joined the U.S. military as a war correspondent. During a war tour of the South Pacific, a screening of the film was arranged in Sydney, Australia on January 5, 1943 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Australian executives. This was followed with a round of print, radio, and newsreel interviews in which Burroughs expressed confidence in the series’ new producer, Sol Lesser, who had purchased the Tarzan rights (and Weissmuller and Sheffield’s contracts) which MGM had relinquished.

 




Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Tarzan of the Apes in film with
SCOTT TRACY GRIFFIN and his TARZAN ON FILM
PART I :: PART II :: PART III :: PART IV :: PART V :: PART VI :: PART VII :: PART VIII:: PART IX
 :: PART X :: PART XI:: PART XII:: PART XIII:: PART XIV:: PART XV:: PART XVI:: PART XVII


ERBzine SILVER SCREEN SERIES
www.ERBzine.com/movies

TARZAN OF THE APES (1918)
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0503.html
THE ROMANCE OF TARZAN
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0504.html
THE SON OF TARZAN: SERIAL and FEATURE FILM
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0589.html
THE ADVENTURES OF TARZAN
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0590.html
TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0591.html
TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION: Photoplay Edition
www.erbzine.com/mag4/0496.html
TARZAN THE MIGHTY
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0592.html
TARZAN THE APE MAN
www.erbzine.com/mag6/0611.html
TARZAN THE FEARLESS
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0595.html
TARZAN AND HIS MATE
www.erbzine.com/mag6/0615.html
ERB FILM PRODUCER
www.erbzine.com/mag2/0287.html
NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN
www.erbzine.com/mag5/0584.html
TARZAN ESCAPES
www.erbzine.com/mag6/0618.html
TARZAN FINDS A SON!
www.erbzine.com/mag6/0620.html
TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE
www.erbzine.com/mag6/0621.html
TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE
www.erbzine.com/mag6/0622.html




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