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Issue 0615
An ERBzine Silver Screen Compendium


Credits ~ Cast ~ Posters ~ Stills ~ Trivia
1. Posters
2. Stills
3. Credits
4. Film Facts and Trivia
5. Magazine Reviews
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Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
CREDITS: Internet Movie Data Base
Directed by Cedric Gibbons  ~ Jack Conway (uncredited)
Writers: Leon Gordon and Howard Emmett Rogers (adaptation) ~ James Kevin McGuinness
Based on the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Genre: Action / Adventure
Tagline: Johnny Weismuller is back again!

Johnny Weissmuller ~ Tarzan
Maureen O'Sullivan ~ Jane Parker
Neil Hamilton ~ Harry Holt
Paul Cavanagh ~ Martin Arlington
 Forrester Harvey ~ Beamish
Nathan Curry ~ Saidi
Ray Corrigan ~ Double for Weissmuller
Paul Porcasi ~ Monsieur Gironde
Desmond Roberts ~ Van Ness
William Stack ~ Pierce
Yola d'Avril ~ Mme. Feronde
Runtime: USA:105 ~  Black and White  ~  Mono
Plot Summary:
In the first sequel to Tarzan, the Ape Man, Harry Holt returns to Africa to head up a large ivory expedition. This time he brings his womanizing friend Marlin Arlington. Holt also harbors ideas about convincing Jane to return to London. When Holt and Arlington show Jane some of the modern clothes and perfumes they brought from civilization, she is impressed but not enough to return. Tarzan wrestles every wild animal imaginable to protect Jane but when he disallows the expedition from plundering ivory from the elephant burial grounds, it is he who takes a bullet from Arlington's gun. Jane eventually believes that Tarzan is dead but he is nursed back to health by the apes. As Jane and the returning expedition are attacked by violent natives, we wonder if Tarzan can rescue them yet again.

Summary written by Gary Jackson

I am glad to see that TCM often feature the first two Weissmuller/O'Sullivan Tarzan films.
*** I found TARZAN AND HIS MATE to be a pretty tedious film -- made watchable thanks to the many stunt stand-in actors, clever photography and animal scenes plus Maureen's interesting costume and on-screen presence. I'm somewhat baffled that so many who loved this film jumped on a bandwagon to put down the more recent earnestly-made, multi-multi million dollar film JOHN CARTER (OF MARS) claiming that it departed too far from ERB's depictions, while "TARZAN'S MATE" was far from faithful in so many ways:
... an illiterate acrobatic vine-swinging oafish Tarzan, weird plot purposely different from anything by ERB (by contract the studio had to use a plot different from ERB's since they only bought the name "Tarzan,") a brunette English Jane, chimps instead of manganis (chimps were not found in ERB's books), elephant burial grounds which included the grave of Jane's father (Parker), different character names, multi-purpose overused Tarzan victory cry, mispronouncing of the name "Tarzan", Professor Porter replaced by Parker, etc.
*** ERB's daughter Joan Burroughs revealed: "Dad found it hard to reconcile himself to the movie versions of the Tarzan stories, and never did understand the movie Tarzan. He wanted Tarzan to speak like an educated Englishman instead of grunting. One time we saw a movie together and after it was all over, although the audience seemed enthusiastic, my father remained in his seat and kept shaking his head, sadly."

  • The movie was originally budgeted for location shooting in Africa and a spectacular jungle fire. Both plans were discarded.
  • ERB was paid $45,000 for the film with option for two more films. He wanted to see a new Tarzan feature released every year. The final cost of the film was $1,279,142.
  • Director Cedric Gibbons began filming on August 2, 1933, but he was soon replaced by Jack Conway who directed most of the films footage.  Maureen O'Sullivan recalled that much of the actual direction was carried out by James C. McKay (uncredited as director), who was only billed as the animal director.
  • Shooting concluded in March 1934.
  • After being replaced by Conway, Gibbons returned to art direction and designed most of the sets used in the Tarzan series. He never directed another film.
  • Cedric Gibbons went on to design the famous Oscar statuette for the Academy Awards. He personally won eleven Oscars for his work as a production designer.
  • Maureen O’Sullivan was absent for over a month recovering from an appendectomy.
  • Betty Roth (wife of animal supervisor Louis Roth) doubled for O'Sullivan for some close-up lion scenes at the end of filming due to O'Sullivan's absence for an appendectomy.
  • According to Jerry Schneider's Movie Making Locations website, the film was shot at: Big Tujunga, China Flats, Lake Sherwood/Sherwood Forest, MGM backlot, and Pico Rivera
  • Members of the Codonas and Picchiani acrobatic troupes in gorilla suits doubled for tree-swinging apes.
  • Former Olympic swimmer, Josephine McKim doubled for Maureen O'Sullivan in the swim scenes - including the near-nude underwater scene. 
  • Josephine McKim was member of the 1924 and 1928 U.S. Womens' Olympic Swim Teams and one of the four U.S. swimmers on that team to win the 1928 gold medal in the 400-Meter Freestyle Relay.
  • Thanks to the Hays censorship office, the brief costumes worn by the stars in this film were replaced by much  less revealing outfits in the Tarzan films that followed. The two-piece Jane costume was subsequently replaced by a long one-piece costume in all the sequels due to pressure from the Hays Office as they felt it was too revealing.
  • Betty Roth, wife of lion owner Louis Roth, doubled for O'Sullivan in the close contact scenes with the lions, mostly for the close-up lion scenes at the end of filming due to O'Sullivan's absence for an appendectomy.
  • In the scene where dummy natives fell out of the trees to be eaten by lions, the lions actually were chewing meat attached to stakes driven into the ground.
  • The lions Margie and Pasha owned by Bert Nelson were used in many featured lion scenes.
  • Chimps Yama and Jiggs played Cheta.
  • The rhino, Mary, was imported from Germany by trainer George Emerson who did most of the riding. Most of Weissmuller's riding shots were on a dummy.
  • Tarzan rides a rhinoceros in one scene – a first for film. The rhino, Mary, was imported from the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany. Weismuller did some of the scene himself, sustaining only minor scrapes to sensitive places from Mary’s rough hide, but most of his riding shots were done on a dummy. Trainer George Emerson who did most of the actual riding. 
  • The many action sequences with animals were achieve through a combination of using trained animals, travelling matte shots, dummies and minatures.
  • Most of the elephants in the film were of the Indian variety with pasted on ears to make them appear to African. MGM already owned several Indian elephants and considered them easier to handle.
  • The melody “My Tender One,” (written by Dr. William Axt for the film Eskimo)  was used in this, and the next three films.
  • The film was a huge worldwide success but was banned in Germany by Hitler's Nazi party.
  • English actor, Paul Cavanagh, who played  Martin, returned to work with Johnny Weissmuller as Commissioner Morrison in the Jungle Jim TV series.
  • The ending in the Whitman Big Little Book version of Tarzan and His Mate is quite different from that of the film. In the book,  Holt dies taking a spear meant for Jane, and Martin is killed by an elephant as he tries to shoot Tarzan.
  • The film's more erotic scenes were removed by order of film censors. Most of these missing scenes have recently been restored for modern releases.
  • For the infamous swimming scene in this pre-code film, alternate footage was shot of Jane in various stages of dress, ranging from totally nude to fully covered. According to film historian Rudy Behlmer: “From all evidence, three versions of the sequence eventually went out to separate territories during the film’s initial release. One with Jane clothed in her jungle loin cloth outfit, one with her topless, and one with her in the nude.” Maureen O’Sullivan did not play the naked Jane in the alternate footage; she was doubled by Olympic swimmer Josephine McKim, who competed in the 1928 games with Johnny Weissmuller. A version with alternate footage with Jane swimming nude or topless was restored in 1986 by Turner Entertainment for its video release.
  • After seeing the film's famous underwater nude scene in August 1933, ERB wrote to son Hulbert: "It is a very beautiful and artistic shot. Their movements under water are naturally slow and extremely graceful. I saw nothing objectionable in it . . . it may get by the censors and it may not."
  • Around the time that Tarzan and His Mate was released, Jimmy Durante played Schnarzan, a spoof of the Tarzan character, in MGM's Hollywood Party. Coincidentally the female star of the movie was Lupe Velez, future wife of Johnny Weissmuller.
  • In 2003, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

  • A Tarzan Spoof with Jimmy Durante

  • Jimmy Durante as Schnarzan

    The New York Times Review
    Having apparently dwelt in the jungle since they first met in "Tarzan, the Ape Man," Johnny Weissmuller, the swimming ace, and the comely Irish colleen, Maureen O'Sullivan, are now to be seen at the Capitol in a sequel to their first adventure. The current offering, which is hailed as " Tarzan and His Mate," is, if anything, even more fantastic than its predecessor. One gathers that the first year of Tarzan and Jane Parker (Miss O'Sullivan) in the African wilds has been a happy one, that they have made many friends among apes and elephants and that they have dozens of arboreal abodes.

    Harry Holt and Martin Arlington are companions on an expedition. Holt hopes to win back his sweetheart, Jane, but Arlington's only wish is to bring back plenty of ivory. It seems to be no more difficult to find Tarzan and Jane than it is to locate Times Square in Manhattan. Jane's wardrobe is limited and the very thoughtful Holt has brought with him trunks filled with many gowns and frocks, some of which are not precisely suited to leaping from tree to tree as Tarzan and his mate do. Perfume and various other gifts to appeal to the feminine taste are brought by the love-lorn Holt.

    Tarzan does not think much of the perfume and even less of a silk gown. He is a man of the forest, an emperor, so to speak, of the jungle, who likes to get his breakfast by diving into a pool and bringing forth a fish. Coffee has a peculiarly distasteful flavor to him. He does, however, cherish his hunting knife, for with it he has laid low many jungle outlaws, such as lions, tigers, leopards, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and so forth.

    It does not even take Tarzan's breath away to have a set-to in the water with a crocodile, and Jane expects him to emerge from the fray victorious, as he does at all times. Here he rides astride rhinoceros and has encounters with a variety of animals. It is all in a day's work! He even expects Jane to be as agile as he is, seeing to it that she does her daily dozen, in the shape of springing from branch to branch and taking headers into lakes. Tarzan is no easy person to please. He speaks only an occasional word, and even then he gets mixed up, which is apt to make one conclude that there must be days that pall upon Jane. Yet she prefers the jungle to Mayfair.

    They yowl to each other and cover distance far quicker via the tress than they could on the ground. In case there should not be enough excitement furnished by jungle fauna and the villainous Arlington, who, be it known, would do anything for a couple of hundred ivory tusks, there is a host of savages, evidently of two different tribes. These natives are quite expert with their spears and arrows.

    Aside from the wild tale, this film is a marvel from a photographic standpoint. Tarzan has his hand to hand encounters with leopards, hippopotamuses and other beasts, and Jane has anything but a merry time with several lions. Some of them are evidently riddled with bullets, but just when one may think that the beasts' teeth have been extracted and that their mouths are wired, one perceives Tarzan's arm in a lion's jaw equipped with splendid white teeth. In another instance one perceives an elephant limping along and finally lying down to die in a spot known as "the elephants' burial ground." This provoked from a young lass: "Oh, the poor lamb!" Just got her animals mixed, but her sympathy was sincere.

    Needless to say that Miss O'Sullivan and Mr. Weissmuller acquit themselves in the same favorable fashion they did in their former hectic experiences.

    Time Magazine Review

    Tarzan and His Mate contains no implication that Tarzan and Jane Parker have been married. They are living together in natural frivolity, ignoring the precepts of Tsar Hays and obeying no civilized conventions except, perhaps, those of birth control.

    A wild, disgraceful, highly entertaining orgy of comic, sensual and sadistic nonsense, Tarzan and His Mate was brilliantly directed by Cedric Gibbons, and acted with vigor by Weissmuller and O'Sullivan.

    Variety Review

    It may be silly, but it continues to be fascinating, this "Tarzan" theme. In Tarzan and His Mate, second of the Metro series with Johnny Weissmuller, the monkeys do everything but bake cakes and the very human elephants always seem on the verge of sitting down for a nice quiet game of chess; yet the picture has a strange sort of power that overcomes the total lack of logic and (probably most important) it is an extraordinarily beautiful photographic specimen. The picture will doubtless draw business.

    Tarzan No. 1 ended with Tarz and the white girl from England at peace in their jungle kingdom. They're again at peace as No. 2 ends, but in the 92 minutes between the two fade-outs they're almost in pieces, several times. Trouble starts soon as the domain of Mr. and Mrs. Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan) is trespassed upon by Neil Hamilton and Paul Cavanagh, a couple of Miss O'Sullivan's heels from Mayfair. The boys after the fortune in ivory which lies in a pachyderm graveyard.

     There are gory battles between bands of natives to liven up the proceedings when Tarzan isn't fighting some jungle beast that is just about to devour his mate. Tarz's stiffest encounters are with a horned rhinoceros and a giant alligator, respectively. His encounter with the rhino is obviously phoney and seemingly impossible, but so well done that it provides a real thrill. The underwater battle with the 'gator supplies a big kick also. Tarz's hand-to-paw grappling with lions are, in comparison, just child's play even when one lion is close-upped with Tarzan's arm in his kisser, and the long teeth showing. Miraculously, when the arm is withdrawn it bears nary a scratch. But such slight discrepancies are easily overlooked, since it's granted that Tarz is a cinch bet in all matches, despite that he always gives away at least two or three tons in weight.

    But for a white man's bullet, Tarz is just another sucker. He is temporarily felled by a slug tossed at him by Cavanagh, who at first can't make up his mind whether he wants the ivory or Mrs. Tarzan, and then decides he wants both. In this animal picture, Cavanagh represents the species skunk.

    Apes of both the genuine and prop variety play a large part in the picture. One of the real ones, called Cheta, does messenger service for Tarz whenever the missus is in danger, such as the identical pair of lions that a few moments before had made a meal of Cavanagh and Hamilton.

    Tarzan and his mate spend most of their time swinging through the branches. Film goes so far as to stage a regulation flying act, with Tarz tossing Mrs. Tarz into an aerial loop, to be caught by the outstretched arms of an ape. The Tarzans also do some fancy swimming, particularly during a tank sequence when Weissmuller and a lady swimmer doubling for Miss O'Sullivan, perform some artistic submarine formations. The lady is brassiereless but photographed from the side only. Weissmuller duplicates his first Tarzan performance, which means the girls will probably go strong for him again. Miss O'Sullivan, never wearing much in the way of clothes, isn't bad to look at from the masculine viewpoint.

    The Culver City jungle and studio exteriors were so constructed as to look like the real thing. In every technical department, the picture is first grade.

    Los Angeles Times Review Excerpt
    This sequel was filled with enough adventure, violence and erotic fantasy to keep the Hays Office censors working overtime. Nothing equals these original early talkies. Weismuller's Tarzan makes Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones look like a wimp, and Marureen O'Sullivan's Jane makes Bo Derek look anemic, even in black and white.

    This Sterling Silver medal was awarded to winners in the "National Tarzan and His Mate Contest for Boys & Girls". The contest was held in conjunction with the release of the movie Tarzan and His Mate in 1934. The "Tarzan Cups" were 5-ounce ice cream cups that were licensed to dairys to produce. Both Foremost Dairies and Beatrice Creamery (Meadow Gold) were two of the known licensed producers. Foremost even ran a promotion where kids could send off 14 Tarzan Cup lids and get each of 22 Tarzan Magic Pictures, cutouts of characters in the Tarzan saga, including Jane and assorted wild animals -- hence the term "Ice Cream for Health" on the medal. The front of the medal reads: "National Tarzan and His Mate Contest for Boys & Girls" "Ice Cream for Health," while the reverse reads: "Awarded To ___________ for Physical Perfection and Outstanding Personality by the Makers of Tarzan Cups"

    Click to open above collage posters

    Visit our 10-page Maureen O'Sullivan Tribute at:

    Click for full-size collage

    Edgar Rice Burroughs Scrapbooks: 1933-1934
    Section I: ERBzine 1112
    Section II: ERBzine 1113
    Section III: ERBzine 1114
    Section IV: ERBzine 1115
    Section V: ERBzine 1116
    Section VI: ERBzine 1117
    Section VII: ERBzine 1118
    Section VIII: ERBzine 1119

    ERBzine Silver Screen Movie Illustrated Reference Guide
    Geoff St. Andrews' Johnny Weissmuller Site
    Internet Movie Data Base
    Find The Fun dot Com Review
     At-A-Glance Film Review
    Epinions Review
    Tarzan and His Mate: Filmsite Review by Tim Dirks
    Tarzan of the Movies
    Matt's Tarzan Movie Guide
    ERB and the Silver Screen Volume I - The Silent Years by Jerry Schneider
    Jerry Schneider's Movie Making Locations
    ERBzine 0393 Weissmuller Site
    ERBzine 0394 Weissmuller Site
    Story Summary

    Colour Adaptations of the
    MGM Tarzan Films
    1373: Tarzan
    The Ape Man
    1374: Tarzan 
    And His Mate
    1375: Tarzan 
    1376: Tarzan 
    Finds A Son!
    1377: Tarzan's 
    Secret Treasure
    1378: Tarzan's 
    New York Adventure
    1379: Tarzan
    1380: Tarzan's
    Desert Mystery
    1381: Tarzan
    and the Amazons
    1382: Tarzan and the
    Leopard Woman

    ERBzine Silver Screen Series
    ERBzine Silver Screen Series

    Tarzan's 7 Lives: ERB discusses Tarzan actors 
    on the eve of the release of Tarzan and His Mate
    ERBzine 0615: 
    Credits ~ Posters ~ Trivia ~ Reviews
    ERBzine 0616:
    BLB Synopsis and Stills I
     ERBzine 0617
    The Story of Johnny Weissmuller
    Lobby Display:
    Stills, Posters, Lobby Cards
    Jungle News 
    Sets ~ Promo Flyer
    ERBzine 1374: 
    Colour Trading Cards
    ERBzine 4505
    Tarzan and His Mate Gallery
    ERBzine 0615c
    Production Set Photos

    Volume 0615

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