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Volume 1962

Tarzan and the Great River (1967)
Mike Henry
Film number 2 of 3 in the Henry series

Review by Steve Allsup

So I came in late. Finally now I have seen the entire Mike Henry trilogy. It has been a long time coming, since he is my favorite.

Click for full screen imageIn Tarzan and the Great River, Tarzan travels South America at the request of his old friend The Professor. As in Tarzan and the Leopard Men, a death cult has sprung up along the Amazon called the Jaguar Cult. During Tarzan's visit the cult kills the Professor, so Tarzan vows to get them for it. He takes an ape and a lion that he had donated to the Professor's menagerie and disappears into the jungle.

This ape and lion are obviously the same as Major and Dinky from Valley of Gold, but they are supposed to be a different pair, named Baron and Cheetah. Tarzan explains that he raised Baron from an orphan cub, just like Jad-Bal-Ja in the books. So this is very much an element taken from the later Tarzan books, to have him with a lion sidekick. Cheeta takes the place of Akut. There was an unfortunate incident in this film in which Dinky savagely bit Henry on the face, and her trainers had to put her to sleep. Maybe they should have used the original Cheetah, though he was perhaps in retirement by this time (fall 1965.) According to Leiber's Valley of Gold, Major, on the other hand, had been adopted and trained by Tarzan's friend Ruiz. Apparently over the years Tarzan has repeated his trick with Jad-Bal-Ja (perhaps because Jad was not on hand to  take the Kavuru pills.)

Jai shows up, in the form of Pepe the cabin boy of Captain Sam, a comical, salty river character. We get to hear Padilla's early cries of "Look out, Tarzan!" etc. Somehow Jai is more appealing as a child with a shirt on (and a cap.)

The story is quite violent. In one scene two canoes of about five men in each sweep up behind the boat and Tarzan dives into the water and swims back under them and topples them into the Amazon. He attacks several of them in the water. Finally they all begin to scatter as alligators begin to join the fun. One alligator pursues Tarzan, who has to have a battle to kill it.  Later, Tarzan spots two more canoes approaching and sets a trap for them. To do this he carries a large 4' by 3' by 1' metal tank of gasoline, puts it on his shoulders like the treasure chest in Tarzan of the Apes, and runs through the jungle with it. When the canoes approach, he fires a torch arrow from the woods and blows them all sky high.

One very odd anachronism appears -- when the girl is fleeing through the jungle, suddenly two lions get into a savage lion fight. This is never explained, why there would be two lions in the Amazon. After the victor continues to pursue the girl, Tarzan has to grab it in a nelson lock and stab it to death.

Once more I was impressed that the script strove to represent the unique elements of Tarzan's character from the books. Tarzan is very bold, and direct in everything he says and does. Henry's incredible physique is like a Frazetta painting come to life, and he is constantly performing heroic feats. I noticed that when he was in a village talking to the chief about the Jaguar cult, as soon as the chief pointed out their area of probable location, Tarzan immediately set off into the black night of the jungle with Cheetah and Baron at his heels, he did not wait until morning. This Tarzan is smart and fast and powerful. Henry appears to do many of his own stunts, and demonstrates that he is one of the most tough and supple Tarzans of all time. Of course, sadly, we know that in real life he was suffering terribly from various illnesses during these films, not least of which was the monkey fever that Dinky gave him.

One complaint -- the set for the headquarters of the hidden Jaguar cult and their slave mines, a spectacular system of hanging bridges and platforms,  appeared to be exactly the same as the village of Nagambi in Jungle Boy.

Overall this was a good solid Tarzan film, and showed tremendous progress in moving closer to the books. Unfortunately the progress back to the books was stalled by the Ron Ely TV series, which settled on a kind of limbo scenario that was neither the movies or the books, without explaining much. Not that you have to necessarily explain much with Tarzan, but still. . .

Tarzan and the Great River Film Credits
Reference: IMDB

More action... More thrills... More heart-stopping adventure than anything now on the screen!
Tarzan is summoned to Brazil by an old friend to stop an evil tribal cult from destroying native villages and enslaving the survivors. The Lord of the Jungle is accompanied on his quest by a pretty blonde doctor, a boy and a grizzled sea captain.

Mike Henry: Tarzan
Jan Murray: Captain Sam Bishop
Manuel Padilla Jr: Pepe
Diana Millay: Dr. Ann Philips
Rafer Johnson: Barcuma
Paulo Gracindo ...  Professor


Director: Robert Day
Writers: Bob Barbash ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters)
Producers: Steve Shagan ~ Sy Weintraub
Original Music: William Loose
Cinematography: Irving Lippman
Film Editing: Anthony Carras ~ Edward Mann ~ James Nelson
Art Direction: Herbert Smith
Working Titles: Tarzan and the Big River ~ Tarzan, Brazil ~ Tarzan, Spain
Filming Location: Brazil
Release Date: September 1967 (USA)  ~ 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1 ~ Eastman Colour

Poster | Wall  5"  | CardThumbnail

The Mike Henry Tarzan Films Tribute
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Mike Henry Tribute
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Tarzan and the
Valley of Gold
Tarzan and the 
Great River
Tarzan and the
Jungle Boy
Mike Henry Photos
Lobby Display II
Lobby Display III
Lobby  Display IV: Jungle Boy
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