First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages in Archive
Volume 1955

Gordon Scott
Film number 3 of 6 in the Scott series

Sol Lesser's Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957) was the first Tarzan film to be presented in colour, and for the first time the cast and crew were sent to filming locations in British East Africa, and the Ape Man began to speak like an educated human. However, for the follow-up film, Tarzan's Fight For Life (1958), Lessor must have suspected that the Tarzan franchise was wearing out its welcome. He put much less money and effort into the production and his efforts to bring the jungle lord to television also stalled.

The three pilots that were intended to launch the TV series were edited together to form the black and white television release, Tarzan and the Trappers.

Tarzan's Fight for Life was shot before, but released after Tarzan and the Trappers. The film was the last release by Tarzan producer Sol Lesser. His last few efforts, this one included, were artistic and commercial failures, so Lesser made the difficult decision to sell the franchise to Sy Weintraub and Harvey Hayutin, who went on to revitalize the series with Tarzan's Greatest Adventure.

In Tarzan's Fight for Life, Gordon Scott makes his third appearance as the Lord of the Jungle, while Eve Brent costars as Jane and Rickie Sorensen plays a Boy-like character named Tartu (characters absent from the the two previous Tarzan flicks). The film is the epitome of everything that was wrong with the series at this point. It features the same ridiculous plot lines, the same illiterate Tarzan, the same cliches and cliffhangers and uninspired dialogue. Jane and Tartu are painfully generic and used only as plot devices.

Tarzan comes to the aid of medical missionary Dr. Sturdy (Carl Benton Reid), whose efforts to minister to the natives are being undercut by witch doctor Futa (James Edwards). Relying on superstition and fear, Futa hopes to foment a native riot, despite the more temperate atttitudes of tribal chieftan Ramo (Woody Strode).

Although film features relatively little action, the scene where Gordon Scott wrestles an eighteen-foot python is noteworthy. The snake nearly strangled him and required six men to pry it off the actor.

Producer: Sol Lesser
Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Writing credits: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters) ~ Thomas Hal Phillips
Release Date: July 1958 (USA) (Metrocolor)
Runtime: 86 min
Plot Summary: Dr. Sturdy is trying to establish a modern hospital in the jungle. His efforts are strongly opposed by Futa, the witch doctor, and Ramo, a native warrior. There are kidnappings, a race against time for serum, capture of Tarzan, the struggle of modern medicine against magic, etc.  (Contributed by Ed Stephan)
Gordon Scott ~ Tarzan
Eve Brent  ~ Jane
Rickie Sorensen ~ Tartu, Tarzan's Adopted Son
Jil Jarmyn ~ Ann Sturdy
James Edwards ~ Futa
Carl Benton Reid ~ Dr. Sturdy
Harry Lauter ~ Dr. Ken Warwick
Woody Strode ~ Ramo
Cheeta (chimp) ~ Herself

Bongo Bongo Boffo
TIME Magazine Review ~ July 21, 1958

Last week, 40 years after his first swing on a back-lot liana, Tarzan of the Apes ooo-eee-ooed the famed yodel, dropped from the treetops into his 32nd movie. Since the other 31 were all financial successes—a combined total gross of more than $500 million and a total audience of 2 billion people—the new Tarzan's Fight for Life showed the sort of promise most appreciated by Cinemogul Sy Weintraub, new head of Sol Lesser Productions, owner of the ape man.

The film also shows a Tarzan who has evolved in a wide arc from the original character of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels, first played on the screen by the late Elmo Lincoln in 1918. Compared to Elmo, who was built like a water tower and once —on the set—killed a lion that tried to rough him up, the Tarzans of mid-century are sissies.

Tarzan's dialogue, over the years, has improved from a simple grunt to almost literate palaver.

The first Tarzan who actually spoke whole sentences was Lex Barker, of the New York Social Register, who in 1948 replaced Johnny Weissmuller, the mobil-est Tarzan of them all.

An Olympic champion and once the fastest swimmer in the world, Weissmuller also holds the record for longevity as the jungle hero: twelve versions over 16 years.

Today's Tarzan is Gordon Scott, 30, with a 50-in. chest. A onetime lifeguard at a Las Vegas hotel, Scott is the first Tarzan in color and CinemaScope.

In Tarzan's Fight for Life, Scott carries on with Jane No. 19 (Eve Brent), demonstrates what has become of Novelist Burroughs' inarticulate hero, the offspring of titled British parents whose deaths left him as a child to the motherhood of the jungle. The pristine Tarzan of the screen who hated all white men—although his name, in Burroughswahili, meant white (tar) man (zan)—is now the champion of modern medical science.

Tarzan 1958 knows a simple defense against the slings and arrows of mumbo jumbo. His prescription: "Take pill quick."

Tarzan's Latest Swings Into the Rialto
N.Y. TIMES REVIEW ~ August 16, 1958
You can get away with almost anything in a Tarzan picture, but Sol Lesser is pushing his luck with the latest one, "Tarzan's Fight for Life," which opened yesterday at the Rialto. It's not that it falls remarkably short of some of the others in the seemingly infinite Tarzan series. It's just that it's so awfully dull.

One reason is the tired and dated story material and dialogue that Thomas Hal Phillips set down in the script. It utilizes standard plot number so and so about the white missionary doctors trying to ward off the threat of a witch doctor, who doesn't want any outsiders cutting into his practice. Et cetera.

This is Gordon Scott's second stab at the role of Tarzan. As noted last time, he acts more like a cautious gymnasium instructor who runs to fat if he doesn't watch his weight than he does like the fabled apeman. Jane, the boy and the chimp, who were missing from the last one, are back in the act. Eve Brent as Jane is a blonde.

The footage of Africa is the same old business, but this time much of it doesn't even come close to matching the studio shots. This makes what is already silly seem even more ridiculous. Like the natives, the audience was restless.


DVD Size
Artist David Hoover has created a matched set of DVD jackets for the Warner Archive releases.
Click on the image for a larger print-out copy.
See more of David's excellent Tarzan art in our series starting at:
ERBzine 0340

Tarzan art by Kusnet (né Morris Kusnetov)

The Hillmans meet Eve Brent
Tarzana ECOF 2002

Click for full-size splash bar

In the Balcony

Gordon Scott Filmography at Internet Movie DB
Tarzan's Hidden Jungle
Tarzan and the Lost Safari
Tarzan's Fight For Life
Tarzan and the Trappers
Tarzan's Greatest Adventure
Tarzan the Magnificent
The Gordon Scott Page
The Many Faces of Hercules
Gordon Scott at Brian's Drive-In Theater
Tarzan Movie Guide
Tarzan of the Movies
Wikipedia Entry
A Recent Visit with Gordon Scott
Biography at
Tarzan en Jane
Tarzan Films (Australia)



Gallery 1

Gallery 2
Tarzan Stills

Gallery 3
Foreign Stills
Hidden Jungle
and the Lost Safari
Fight For Life
and the Trappers
Greatest Adventure
the Magnificent

ERBzine Weekly Webzine
The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERB Companion Sites Created by Bill Hillman
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
Burroughs Bibliophiles
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine

John Carter Film

ERB, Inc. Corporate Site

ERB Centennial

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
All ERB Images© and Tarzan® are Copyright ERB, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2011/2018 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners