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Issue 0619

Starring Glenn Morris


Tarzan's Revenge (1937, 70 min.), starring Glenn Morris and Eleanor Holm, was one of the least-liked Tarzan movies, despite the fame of its athletic stars and its strong musical score by the Austrian-American composer / music director, Hugo Riesenfeld (1879-1939). Morris, in his sole Tarzan appearance, is rarely seen. His real fame goes back to the 1936 Berlin Olympics when he won a decathlon medal and swept Hitler's favorite director, Leni Riefenstahl off her feet. She mentions the bizarre blouse-ripping incident with Morris in her memoirs.
Director: D. Ross Lederman
Writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters) ~ Robert Lee Johnson ~ Jay Vann

Glenn Morris: Tarzan
Eleanor Holm: Eleanor 'Ellen' Reed
George Barbier: Roger 'Rodge' Reed, Eleanor's Father
C. Henry Gordon: Ben Alleu Bey
Hedda Hopper: Penny Reed, Eleanor's Mother
Joe Sawyer: Olaf Punch, Safari Guide (as Joseph Sawyer)
George Meeker: Nevin 'Nev' Potter, Eleanor's Fiance
Corbet Morris: Jigger, Nevin's Servant
John Lester Johnson: Koki, Chief Bearer
Frederick Clarke: Ben Alleu's Servant
Bill Elliott: Riverboat Captain (as Gordon Elliott)
Al Thompson: The Sign Painter
Blue Washington: Bearer Bringing Olaf Poison Darts

Producers: Sol Lesser ~ Barney Briskin
Original Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
Music Supervisor: Abe Meyer
Cinematography by George Meehan
Film Editing by Gene Milford ~ Bert Jordan
Art Direction by Lewis J. Rachmil
Assistant Director: Wilbur McGaugh
Sound Engineer: Terry Kellum
Wardrobe: Jerry Bos
Production Company: Principal Productions Inc.
Distributor: Principal and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Black & White ~ 70m ~ Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)
Production Dates: October 1937 - November 1937
Filming Studio Location: 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, California, USA
Copyright Holder: Principal Productions, Inc.; 7 January 1938; LP8030
Release Date: January 7, 1938
7 reels ~ 35mm negative and print ~ Spherical ~ Aspec Ratio: 1.37 : 1
  • Filming locations: 20th Century Fox Ranch ~ 20th Century Fox Studio, Los Angeles, California.
  • Producer Sol Lesser considered casting New York Yankees baseball great Lou Gehrig as Tarzan, but changed his mind after seeing his legs, which were "more functional than decorative."
  • An unauthorized Turkish release of this film years later had a Turkish actor's face superimposed over Glenn Morris' in some scenes.
  • Glenn Morris, the American golden medal decathleta at the Berlin Olympics and Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's famous propaganda film-maker, were passionately attracted to each other.After he was awarded his medal in the stadium he grabbed her, tore open her blouse and kissed her breasts in front of the stadium spectators.
  • After swimming champion Eleanor Holm was cast as female lead, the screenwriters rewrote their script to feature Holm's swimming prowess. She became Tarzan's mate at the end of the film but her character was named Eleanor as it was feared that the public wouldn't accept one so well known as the Jane character.
  • Well-known gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper, played Eleanor's mother.
  • The film was shot on a low budget and did not fare well against the slick competition of Weissmuller films. the film's failure compelled Morris to quit acting.
  • Time Magazine gave the film an unfavorable review: "This new Tarzan is lean, 6 ft. 2 in. Glenn Morris, summoned to replace Johnny Weissmuller. . .  He heroically  combines the facial qualities of Broadway's Burgess Meredith and Hollywood's Harpo Marx, but has the acting ability of neither."
  • Film Daily reported that "it suffers from repitition and a slow pace."
  • Variety: "Even the youngsters, at which this type of production is aimed, will not be much impressed."
  • Liberty Magazine called Eleanor Holm "one of the year's worst actresses."
  • Sensitive to the scathing reviews, Morris became a successful insurance agent, enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor, and was seriously wounded in combat.
  • Eleanor Holm also gave up acting and resumed her swimming career in Billy Rose's "Aquacade" show.

Lou GehrigLou Gehrig

Sol Lesser, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Glenn MorrisGlenn Morris and Edgar Rice Burroughs

Glenn Morris (1912.06.18-1974.01.31) born on his family's homestead farm near Simla, Colorado was a U.S. track and field athlete. He won a gold medal in the Olympic decathlon in 1936, setting new world and Olympic records. He attended Colorado A&M  and played football as well as track and field. He was also an occasional actor, he portrayed Tarzan in Tarzan's Revenge
     German filmmaker and documentarian Leni Riefenstahl (1902–2003) claimed in her memoirs that during and after the 1936 Olympics, she had an affair with Morris, which she ended because of a very disparaging report about him that was given to her by a graphologist. Morris' success at the 1936 Olympics resulted in a brief flurry of fame, including a New York City ticker-tape parade and a statewide Colorado celebration.
     Morris was the fourth Olympic athlete to play Tarzan. He appeared in only one Tarzan film, Tarzan's Revenge (1938), an inexpensive independent film produced by Sol Lesser and released by Twentieth Century Fox. Reviews for the film cited both the silliness of the production and the exaggerated acting of the theatrically untrained Morris (though Variety called him "a highly acceptable Tarzan"). After only one minor additional film role, in the 1938 comedy "Hold That Co-ed," Morris left the movie business forever.
     Morris played four games with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) in 1940 before injury curtailed this new career, then worked as an insurance agent. During World War II, he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in the Pacific, commanding amphibious-assault landing craft. Reportedly wounded, Morris was treated for psychological-trauma issues and spent several months in a naval hospital.
    He was married from 1937 to 1940 to Charlotte Edwards, whom he had met in college. At age 61 in 1974, Morris died of congestive heart failure "and other complications" at the veterans hospital in Palo Alto, California, and was buried in Skylawn Memorial Park in nearby San Mateo.
     In 2003, author Mike Chapman wrote “The Gold and The Glory: The Amazing True Story of Glenn Morris, Olympic Champion and Movie Tarzan”.
Eleanor Holm (1913,12,06-2004,01,31): At the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Holm won the gold medal in her favourite event, the 100-metre backstroke. "I was hardly dry at those Olympics when I was whisked from one studio to another — Warner Brothers, MGM, Paramount — to take screen tests," she told the New York Times in 1984. 
     In 1932, she was one of the 14 girls named as WAMPAS Baby Stars, including Ginger Rogers, Mary Carlisle, and Gloria Stuart. One of her first assignments at Warner Bros. was to join a trainload of actors and Busby Berkeley chorus girls on a barnstorming trip across the country in early 1933 to publicize the movie musical 42nd Street and to show support for the newly elected president Franklin D. Roosevelt at his first inauguration in Washington, DC.
      Holm appeared in only one Hollywood feature film, starring opposite fellow Olympian Glenn Morris in the 1938 film Tarzan's Revenge. Tarzan's Revenge has received negative critical responses, with the film described as "preposterous from beginning to end" and "absurd." Lead actor Morris was described as "an irredeemably awful actor" whose jungle yell is "so ludicrous as to be laughable."
     On November 10, 1939, she married her lover, impresario Billy Rose, who had divorced first wife Fanny Brice. At the 1939 New York World's Fair she did 39 shows a week at Rose's "Aquacade", co-featured with Tarzan swimmer Johnny Weissmuller and, later, Buster Crabbe.
     In 1966, Holm was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She died of renal disease in Miami, Florida, on January 31, 2004 at the age of 90
Leni Riefenstahl
 The Leni Riefenstahl-Tarzan Connection. Riefenstahl was Hitler's official propaganda film maker. She was assigned to record the 1936 Berlin Olympics on film. Once the prologue and opening ceremonies had been completed (nearly 1,900 feet of film stock), Leni spent the remainder of the games personally looking over select major events. Stars of track and field, like the famed Jesse Owens, were well documented in the filming as he took four gold metals and two world records at the games. During this period, she had become romantically involved with Glenn Morris, who was an American decathlon gold  medallist. The affair soon ended as he left Berlin directly after the games. She edited the material into the film Olympia.
Olympia, Part II: The Festival Of Beauty (1938 - 96 minutes) Riefenstahl's remarkable look at the XI Summer Olympiad continues as the cameras take in the events around the stadium and in the Olympic village, while following competition in swimming, equestrian, soccer, the Pentathlon and Decathlon and more, including the closing ceremonies.
Leni Riefenstahl


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Related ERBzine Features:
The Revenge of "Tarzan’s Revenge"
By Quentin N. Castle

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Volume 0619

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