32. TIGER, TIGER
33. VOICE OF THE ELEPHANT
34. THIEF CATCHER
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
32. TIGER, TIGER ~ Sept 15, 1967
(James Whitmore ~ Cliff Stockwell, Anne Jeffreys ~ Melody)
Despite a warning from Tarzan that a deadly tiger is loose in the area,
an engineer insists on continuing work on an irrigation project.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 32. TIGER, TIGER
Review By Charles Mento
“There are no tigers in Africa.”
Another sterling cast and visuals. I have been critical of the show as it wore on and it does tend to be similar and sometimes even illogical or tedious and I hate to be but…the show is great and as such, even in the 1960s hey day of TV imagination, TARZAN stands out as bringing to the tube a sense that it is a MOVIE and better than most movies look. It’s also unlike anything on TV then and maybe even since though PETER BENCHLEY’S AMAZON and THE RIVER come close. There’s a unique look.
That written, this episode starts out strong enough but then meanders all over the place and cannot sustain itself based on the poor stock footage matching poorly against the natives hunting a tiger, which they clearly are awful at AND two villains who have a poorly hatched, illogical and totally stupid sets of schemes. We also find out early on who the villains are so the mystery is lost as well. It starts out seemingly becoming an even better version of MAN KILLER but quickly we go HUH? Two children who have no personalities and barely speak are seen…the boy doesn’t speak at all and when the girl speaks it is off camera and sounds dubbed in. And stilted.
There’s also a man who we later find out is working to bring irrigation to the tribe in the area and is well liked. His name is Duncan. He also never speaks. BUT he dies right away like others in other episodes. Tarzan tells him to leave (with or without the girl?) and instead, he listens to the girl to go help find her brother…but Tarzan was already on the case. Duncan gets killed by the tiger. It’s all done rather hurriedly and awkwardly. And the kids are terrible, especially the boy, who actually seems to smile when Tarzan grabs him…away from a tiger!
Anyone complaining about Manuel Padilla Jr’s performances should see this two children AND be ashamed of themselves. Manuel as Jai is personable, likeable, and often heroic and fun. Here, Jai appears, has his role to play and then…vanishes. I’m not even sure we’re told where he went. A place of safety I imagine? Also Jai’s hair changes from scene to scene in length, style, and thickness. He also seems to have some kind of dark spot on his stomach in one scene and I noticed the camera avoids showing that part him in some shots. In addition, I forgot to mention that Padilla seemed to have some kind of bruise in one of the later first season episodes. He also looks to have grown a bit more here.
BUT why single out these two children as bad in the acting and personality dept…ALL the natives here have little to say and what they do say is unimportant and NONE of them have any personalities at all. If they did, as with tribesmen and women in other episodes, we might care about them.
The opening killing plays out like a horror movies (as in MAN KILLER) and yet it’s awkward and clunky. And it makes Tarzan look bad that Duncan, another ill fated friend of his, gets killed with Tarzan not too far away.
Okay, Oscar Beregi Jr as Deveraux has a thankless role. Seen playing with parrots and moving a kitten out of harm’s way, he is nevertheless someone who will lose his business (what IS his business, selling food?) if Duncan’s irrigation project is accepted by the natives. At one point he pulls a small gun on Tarzan and the wife of the man who replaces Duncan. The wife adds class to the show as she’s played by the great Anne Jeffries, former of TOPPER fame and later of GENERAL HOSPITAL. She plays Melody Stockwell, wife of Cliff Stockwell. Before we get into Cliff, let’s talk about Deveraux’s aide Findley. He’s secretly working for Deveraux while pretending to work for Cliff, and earlier, Duncan. Cliff Stockwell is Duncan’s employer and replaces him on the project, despite not knowing the natives well. Duncan didn’t have any family so that’s okay then…his life wasn’t meaningful if he didn’t leave them behind so it’s okay then. That’s what is thought…and not just on TV.
Findley is sign posted as a bad man when Tarzan asks him to give Jai a message to stay put in one village and not follow him but he lies to Jai when Jai asks if Tarzan told him any instructions. Jai then goes and sees the tiger kill a lamb or goat and he even gets near a sacrifice that natives left out for the tiger, which they think is some kind of spirit (yes, like MAN KILLER). Tarzan and Stockwell call it a rumor but THEY KNOW IT’S NOT or at least TARZAN should! Gosh. Ely’s great as ever in a thankless script, facing down every enemy and putting Stockwell down when he knocks Jai on his butt. Tarzan knocks Cliff out.
Cliff Stockwell and his story start out great. It’s interesting to see a man want to help natives by bringing them water. Tarzan later tells the wife that Cliff only cares about himself and that he’s chasing his manhood, trying to prove he can go anywhere anytime. Okay, until that point, I didn’t get that at all, just a man inexperienced in dealing with Africa and its land and people. THAT was interesting. Cliff’s chasing the tiger, which he steadfastly doesn’t believe in…throughout the entire episode before his leaving…is more a Captain Ahab tale and frankly, after so many MOBY DICK stories on TV (including at least two or three on VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and one on STAR TREK), THAT’S boring. Cliff, thus, acts like an idiot.
He goes off alone to catch a tiger he doesn’t believe in, can’t shoot straight and misses it several times, drops his gun, AND sprains his ankle. James Whitmore of THEM and other things does what he can with the role and for the first few scenes, before he pulls a gun on Tarzan and knocks Jai down, he’s likeable. Later, not so much. Even the last scene where the natives laugh at him for cutting a tree down that’s giving him shade is …not funny and makes him look a fool. And not in a lovable Dutch, Charity Jones, or Basil of the Bulge way. This script and the performance I’m afraid to say make us appreciate all three of those characters A LOT MORE. Sort of. Basil is still an incompetent blow hard.
Serves me wrong, an animal lover, watching a show where animals die regularly. Here we get the animals attacked by the tiger and this might be the first episode where Cheetah is in direct danger…and he throws melons at the tiger. I think we even get stock of Jai approaching Cheetah or maybe that is in the next episode, which also seems to have Jai hair changes.
Let’s get back to Findley. When he can’t get the chief to do as he says, he…shoots him! How stupid was that? He also starts a fire to draw the tiger into a corner…or something. How stupid was that? He gets killed when a burning tree falls on him. What an idiot. He was riding a horse to “go get help.” Get help? With Deveraux holding Mrs. Stockwell and Tarzan at gun point, not to mention one of the female staff members watching, he order the wife to go get her husband but he’s gone…Deveraux didn’t see him leave and reveals his plans to Tarzan…or rather more of his plans as Tarzan guesses it all. I don’t recall Tarzan even finding the chief fallen…we just seem to see Tarzan carrying him in the fire in the jungle.
On the plus side Ely’s confrontation with the tiger is marvelous and well done. Brave man. Whitmore’s character doesn’t give him any accolades but I do! The tiger seems to be stamped on by elephants trying to get away from the fire. Sigh.
The epilog with the natives eating while Stockwell tries to reason with them to accept irrigation is probably the worst scene in the series up to now. It’s almost embarrassing and not at all funny. This story also starts out with strong visuals and strong story, ideas, and characters but degenerates to …almost tedious circumstances. HOW did Findley get the tiger to Africa? And the chief seemed to survive being shot almost point blank range. What is he Tarzan or Superman?
Oh and I hate to harp on this again but shouldn’t cutting down trees be something Tarzan IS against? All in all, it’s hard to see at times but Tarzan looks rather gullible and foolish in this episode, too, believing the tiger IS a rumor, then …well, just not; not suspecting the real culprits or even finding out Findley didn’t tell Jai to wait in the village!
On the plus side, the tiger and almost every scene he or she is in, looks fantastic. Strong, agile, real, and great. Sitting with paws on the rifle is fantastically cool.
Almost forgot to mention, a young native falls into the water and Tarzan has to…sigh…fight yet another croc. WT? This must be the fifth time he’s had to do so but to be fair, here, it is the most realistic it’s ever looked. Ely also gets some stock footage again as his hair looks like the dark haired version of his Tarzan from early first season.
All in all, I hate to be critical but the show really should have done better than this. The villains are just sad and lame with the plot being almost equally tedious despite a good start and a promising set of scenes that gave us some depth of character to Stockwell (he wants to help the natives but morally why? Is he just a business man? Does he want to keep Duncan’s memory alive? ALL of that is suggested but then ultimately lost for the cliché of a man trying to prove himself and his manhood). The Howard Morton Commissioner seems to vanish early on. Jai is seen about mid way through and then in the awful scene in the epilog, though only briefly in one lone shot where he’s…alone.
Again, not a bad episode but not a good one either and it could have been.
BTW Jai seems to call the elephant Hannibal or Annabelle? There’s also a second chimp when Jai takes a vote to see if he should follow Tarzan or wait here. Cheetah makes the elephant vote with him.
Nothing would be complete without mentioning the other major change here: the theme music and end theme have changed again. I must admit I love Nelson Riddle’s music in this, BATMAN and his VOYAGE episode. He has a distinct sound and it’s nice to listen to.
One thing I noticed it that all three TARZAN themes sound the same and when hearing one it’s difficult to tell it apart from the other two and / or remember what the other two sound like. Whichever one I listen to at the time, I can’t seem to remember how they differ. They’re all similar but also very, very different! Go figure!? The music in the episode itself doesn’t really distinguish itself but it is adequate and not bad and gives the first episode of this second season a different feel from the others in season one…just barely. It DOES, at times, sound a bit like BATMAN but also has a distinctive TARZAN flavor to it. The score I recall standing out as superb is THIEF CATCHER.
In another BTW, we’re back to having clips from the episode at the opening of the episode again. This tradition vanished with most of the later first season episodes. Now, we’re back to getting promos before the episode about the episode again. We also do not get the title of the episode right away, though we sometimes do and sometimes don’t in this show overall, but here a bit more action happens and then we get TIGER, TIGER titles.
Brief stock of Ely’s brown haired Tarzan swinging and running is shown late in the episode, after the stupendous and wonderful tiger fight but the tiger sometimes looks like its playing with Ely and trying NOT to hurt him or engage him. Still. Brave man, Ely.
Uhm, where are all those extra tribesmen standing in the final scene? Are they added in stock from earlier? Maybe not? There seems to be an overhead construct of some kind not in the long run unless it’s just further back in perspective.
As usual we do not find info: we do not find out if the chiefs go through with signing the contract or is this supposed to be after they already did?
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
33. VOICE OF THE ELEPHANT ~ 1967.09.22
(Fredrick O'Neal ~ tribal spokesman, Murray Matheson ~ Judge)
The life of Jai's pet elephant is in danger
after it receives the blame for the death of a commissioner.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 33. THE VOICE OF THE ELEPHANT
Review By Charles Mento
“The boy’s persistent. I like that.”
“I still don’t understand. If you had made them let Tanto go in the beginning, none of this would have happened.”
For a series with so many elephants, it’s odd that this is the first time the name comes up in a title.
True story. Not sure what it was about the show but my parents made sure I never knew it existed for the longest time. I was very young in 1966, probably five or almost six. About that time, I was introduced to my father’s one and only Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller (whom his brother resembled A LOT and even acted like) and was allowed to see the TARZAN movies on TV, mostly the ones with Boy, starting with TARZAN’S NEW YORK ADVENTURE. I guess they felt I was too young for some of the themes and violence in Ely’s TARZAN. As I grew up, the Tarzan movies were on constantly on UHF stations and every weekend, sometimes twice on both Saturdays and Sundays. I eventually saw every one of them. BUT Ely’s Tarzan, which was rerun on cable stations constantly on the weekends in the 1980s almost up to the 1990s, eluded me until…
…A UHF station that came on, TV-67 I think it was reran TARZAN with Ron Ely, totally UNCUT with barely 30 seconds of commercials for each break. They also ran LAND OF THE GIANTS, LOST IN SPACE, PETER GUNN, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (the only one to survive going into the 1990s since it has the most episodes but then they started cutting the episodes), 12 O’CLOCK HIGH, and others, all uncut and with limited breaks. As you can imagine they were popular but didn’t last long.
It was on this station that I saw my first Ron Ely TARZAN and maybe not the whole thing as it was on very late (10 or 11) and/or I had the dreaded and horrid Catechism classes (which also made me not see most TIME TUNNEL episodes for AT LEAST TEN YEARS) in which I was made to fear God and hate organized religion, which made me fear God and feel bad about myself.
In any case, this gave me a false idea of the show. Jai, in the first few minutes is seen FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE SERIES, though I did not know that, in a huge treehouse. Manuel, in these scenes, looks amazed at the tree house and the wooden elevator, so much so that it seems as if Jai never saw these things himself. I also wonder that this treehouse wasn’t a leftover set from the early movies as it looks NOTHING like the other episodes of Tarzan nor does the back lot forest shown around it. It’s an odd scene for this series and most unlike the show but it gave me the impression that this was what the show was like: Cheetah playing hi jinks with Jai’s paint set in the treehouse, an elephant, and a shirtless little boy running around until the elusive Tarzan eventually shows up to save him from events and danger. Of course the show had a little of that but this was the very first time (and maybe ONLY?) time we see this treehouse.
I checked TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN and TARZAN’S NEW YORK ADVENTURE and this treehouse interior and exterior looks almost exactly like those with a few less dressings and trappings.
Oh, and Jai has a spelling book for some reason. Does Tarzan teach him? Is he going to some kind of school? Who knows? In any case, just as he steps in the paint he seems to be on the left side of the treehouse (we only see this room?) and when he tells Cheetah that is his spelling book he seems to be on the right side with the window (one of the many) behind him. Then he chases Cheetah from the left side.
Oddly, Jai has long hair in most of these scenes and then later when running after Cheetah we get stock footage of him calling after Cheetah and he looks younger and has shorter hair! Later, of course, which is more common, we see stock of early season one footage of Ely with darker hair, shorter hair, swinging on vines, swimming, climbing a tree, and running.
There’s only one thing wrong with this fine episode: in the climatic ending Tarzan beats down ALL three villains one at a time, which is fine but when two of their henchmen attack, firing rifles and killing two random villagers who go after either Arthur Brady (John Doucette who played Ulysses in THE TIME TUNNEL-REVENGE OF THE GODS) or his accomplice Matusi (the always good Percy Rodrigues who has a long list of credits including THE STARLOST, the same character in two episodes of the 1970s telepathic series THE SIXTH SENSE, and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, among many others). Tarzan is ignored by these two men who seem to run one way and Tarzan runs past them to chase Matusi, Brady, AND their other henchman the muscled good looking and this time bloodthirsty Ramahit (played with malice by the almost semi regular Rockne Tarkington and he’s great here as well).
SO….let’s get this straight: the main reason the villains’ plan to sell stolen goods (this time stuff that natives MIGHT need such as food and other goods like medical supplies) is Tarzan. The two men run past him after shooting two random men who were trying to hold Matusi and let Tarzan live? These two rifle men create more mayhem than anyone at Tanto, the elephant’s trial and yet they are just allowed to run…don’t seem to kill anyone that we know of or care about…or are shown…and seem never to be captured or stopped? WHAT?
The entire climax stops when Tarzan, separately and quickly beats down all three: Brady gets a beat down, well deserved since he sort of ordered the death of innocent Hendricks (Robert MacDougal) who found their cave of loot…and Brady is beaten down several times; he easily catches a spear thrown by Ramahit (and then doesn’t use it to stop him so it makes me wonder if NBC or the studio was unhappy with previous episodes where Tarzan killed with a spear and forced them NOT to make him kill here, though he does flip two men into a pit with a lion in it but maybe the network didn’t want spear deaths any longer?) and Tarzan punches him out quickly…far too quickly…I would have liked to see these two fight longer; and then amazingly, Tarzan uses a log that Matusi wielded on him to choke Matusi and breaks the log on his neck, probably killing him.
Refreshingly, Murray Matheson, who usually plays a sinister type, here…isn’t. He’s thoroughly amused by Jai and likes the boy, immediately accepting his challenge to become the voice of Tanto, the elephant as his lawyer in the sham trial that accuses Tanto of killing (trampling) the victim. The facts come out later, horrifyingly that Tanto was forced somehow by the villains to trample over the already dead body of Hendricks.
Another first here is that Jai is totally disappointed in Tarzan’s inability to stop the tribe from putting Tanto on trial. It’s a new area for the show and the writers and it works well here, is handled delicately and expertly.
Maurice Marsac as Major Domo has the challenge of being comic foil to Cheetah who distracts him long enough for Jai to get in and try to find Murray’s character Judge James Lawrence. Some of it, like Cheetah squirting him in the face is even funny. Question: he calls Cheetah a monkey. Is he? I thought he was a chimpanzee. The scenes of Jai with Domo and with James are wonderful. Since James is not a regular when he separates from Tarzan, I fully expected his character to be killed but, refreshingly, he is not. Oh, and Cheetah blows off a raspberry at Domo, at least I hope it is just that as much as I hope the spray Cheetah uses is a pool squirting from a fountain!
I do believe the rock fall when Tarzan pushes the boulders out from the cave so he, Jai and James can escape is also stock footage. For once, the stock footage does seem to be used well in just about every scene and there’s a lot of animals here: Cheetahs, lions, leopards, panthers, antelope, zebra, bulls, a rhino, birds of all kinds, bats in the cave, hippos, and more.
Since Jai is soured at Tarzan’s efforts of lack thereof, he has to direct his friends, including James and another native (Belita, one of the only non-chiefs in the series who is not a bad guy or son of a chief to talk all but briefly) to guide Jai toward James’ help at the Golana Government House (which looks nothing like the previously named Golana Gov’t House although we do see a kind of pool). This leads Jai to go to the gov’t HQ. It’s also odd, in this series, to see so many well dressed, more mainstream 1960s people there.
The soundtrack is adequate and almost reaches for that theme music incorporated into the episodic themes and hits that but doesn’t reach the greatness of the next episode’s soundtrack which is awesome. BTW at times, especially when Jai arrives at Golana Gov’t House and when Tarzan fights natives, the music comes dangerously close to sounding a lot like some of BATMAN’s more familiar soundtrack tracks.
The muscular extra who is in many episodes rough handles Jai so gets a kick from a Tarzan who has his hands tied behind his back.
The plot is a good one if a juvenile one and an outlandish one at that. One bit left in has…Jai vaguely refer to something eluded to but not really discussed much, if at all, “I don’t care what his mother did…” meaning that perhaps Tanto (wonder why they didn’t use the Tantor name? Perhaps rights issues with either Burroughs or the Weismuller movies?) was blamed for being rogue like his mother and maybe his mother killed men? It’s an odd line or maybe I missed something.
After killing Hendricks, Matusi talks of a boat to Jamjau that the man expected to be on. The goods were stolen supplies, food, med supplies and precision instruments. There’s an attempt to make the chief, in the end, kind and gentle but he’s a rather dopey leader from the start, all the same, believing this elephant could kill someone. It is he who tells Jai he has the blood of a rogue elephant and must be destroyed before he is fully grown. Tarzan shows up at just the right time so Jai should be grateful for that! Tarzan also has to talk this chief into admitting the law is not just for working elephants (Matusi’s lied that it’s not) and to present some basic facts to this lame, bloodthirsty and dumb chief.
Later, however, after they find Tanto but not Jai or Jim, Tarzan trusts Matusi to bring Tanto back to the village! I guess he still didn’t suspect him?
The villagers are equally nasty or just uninvolved as none of them want to evoke the trial so Tarzan has to but of course this is a plot device to drive a slight wedge between Tarzan and poor Jai.
To get to the village, Judge Lawrence, who BTW is one of the…NO, THE nicest person we’ve met in all of the series so far, has to follow the river path north. Does that mean to get there, Jai followed the river path south? The Judge was taken with Jai on sight and amused by him.
Jai tells Jim that Tanto wouldn’t hurt anyone, not even a spider!
There’s also stock of Jai on an elephant that looks almost nothing like Tanto. The stock elephant looks larger and does not have the harness Tanto wears. Jai’s hair is shorter there, too, and he looks younger.
BTW in this episode, most of the time, Jai’s hair is so long it looks like it covers almost his entire neck and in some scenes as he turns his head, almost hits his chest!
Why would Cheetah wake up Tanto’s guard?
Unlike other young heroes such as JOHNNY QUEST or later THE RED HAND GANG, Jai doesn’t care why the crooks are doing what they are doing and doesn’t care why they are there, he just wants to protect and clear Tanto.
For once, Jai stands vigil over Tarzan’s unconscious self and wipes his brow with water, however short it is! Being that Jai was not very happy with Tarzan at the moment, this was touching, as always.
Some of the music when they are trapped in the cave and looking for the way out that Tarzan unblocks sounds like music we’ve heard before, possibly in either MAN KILLER or TIGER, TIGER or some other episode or all three (?). And yet the music as Tarzan does the unblocking is pure Nelson Riddle. BUT I don’t understand: if Tarzan unblocked the exit one way, why do the trio seem to be back in the cave with the supplies when they go through it? Even odder is that while Tarzan fights Ramahit, Jim pulls Jai back to an outcropping of rock they were seen hiding behind BACK IN THE CAVE!? when Tarzan was unblocking the exit (?) and then they were just behind him in that scene!?
I thought I spotted the boy extra in this episode, too, when Jai first looks at Hendrick’s body. There is a boy behind him, taller, and possibly the boy who almost overtook the scene in THE ULTIMATUM, I believe or some other episode with his legs spread and his hands folded.
As ever Ely moves like a great ape throughout. Also: I noticed Jai’s protective hand motion near Jim, much as Tarzan’s protective hand motions to Jai happen frequently. It’s a physical acting that’s impressive and often overlooked by audiences. Tarzan seems to get Ramahit but then as the trio escape, we shift to outside and an elephant stampede? What?
Tarzan still calls Jai son at times. He also holds his chin and pats his head at times. All of which cements their relationship visually across the entire series and is charming. At 44 minutes in, during Jim’s defense of Tanto and speech from the POV of Tanto, Jai’s part in his hair changes sides!
The fight scenes in this episode are some of the best of the series.
During Jim’s defense, he calls the treehouse, Jai’s. Just how did the villains force Tanto to trample over the body? There’s some soft evidence that Brady is not a killer at first glance or at least that he didn’t really want to kill anyone.
As you can see I’ve detailed a lot about this episode and pointed out everything but only because I’m very fond of it and think it’s very entertaining and one of my favorite episodes. One thing I don’t get is how they could mess up the ending the way that they did. With two rifle wielding men present, Tarzan goes after the weaponless Brady first! The two men are ordered by Ramahit to shoot…but who does he order them to shoot? The guards going after Brady. Then, the two men run. To where? No one seems to go after Tarzan with the rifles or guns…instead, Ramahit throws a spear at Tarzan? Why? Where do the two men…and for that matter the other four men with guns that are on Ramahit’s side it would appear GO? Do they get caught? Where are they running to? Does the plot with the hijacked goods end or do the surviving men get away and sell the stuff? Again, as in other episodes, we’re not told really and it’s frustrating.
Why doesn’t Tarzan spear Ramahit? He’s done it before. I can take that perhaps it’s because he’s a hero but then why not have a huge fight with the man? I guess they already did that in the storeroom of the cave? I also did not realize this but Jai basically watches Tarzan kill Matusi IF that log snapping over the man’s neck does kill him.
Jai apologizes to Tarzan that he was angry at him and thanks him for saving Tanto’s life. Cheetah rides an elephant that does not look a lot like Tanto. Jim gives Jai a book about law. Jai thanks him. Apparently Jai can read. The chief tells Jim that his eloquent description of what Tanto saw convinced him and the Elder of the Council to believe Tanto was innocent even before Tarzan brought in Brady (who confessed he saw Matusi kill Hendricks).
What are those green things stuck on Tanto in the very last few moments? The last moment is stock of Tarzan, Jai, Cheetah and Tanto from another episode leaving.
Okay, this is probably the longest review and detailing and it’s because I really love this episode in almost every aspect. I think it’s a step up from recent episodes and tries at horror and/or mystery. It is also a sort of amalgamation of old style Tarzan (Johnny, Lex) with the newer (Jock, Gordon, Henry) and this show’s specific joy with the Boy figure getting into his own adventures (Jai, of course) with a sort of Cheetah who is just an animal but also a bit more than that but not something that’s going to get them out of everything. The fights when compared to the fights in Johnny’s TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN, which I just saw a bit of due to looking for the tree house, are similar and no less or more than those (love Kimba vs Boy, too, though there Cheetah IS an out for Boy—Kimba almost killed Boy!).
One more thing I must note: Manuel Padilla Jr. again: he has a huge range to conquer here and he proves he’s more than up to the task. If worried about Tanto, angry at Cheetah or Tarzan, apologetic to Tarzan, thankful and joyful to Jim, or fearful and frustrated with the villains, Manuel is more than convincing, more than adequate and a master at making us believe in his outlandish character of Jai, even among well dressed civilians who looked like they wandered in from some other show and from another country at the base.
Well done, TARZAN and Jai. Would have loved to see James return in another episode.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
34. THIEF CATCHER ~ 1967.09.29
(Donald Mitchell ~N'duma, George Kennedy & John Haymer ~ convicts)
The lives of both Tarzan and a native chief are in danger from two escaped convicts, whose plan involves Jai.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 34. THIEF CATCHER
Review By Charles Mento
“Recognize the kid, Tarzan? It’s your young friend Jai. Now show yourself or I’ll start shooting at the kid.”
“I did it. I killed TARZAN!”
Don Mitchell as the good guy N’Duma can be seen in IRONSIDE in a huge role as Mark Sanger. George Kennedy, so wild as the evil Crandell, are familiar faces to TV viewers if not to TARZAN viewers. Those that are very familiar to TARZAN viewers as Yaphet Kotto as the evil Kesho, who stands to lose out on his racketeering profits to outside sellers, while opposing N’Duma’s more forward ways. N’Duma wants the tribe to embrace new ways to farm from the outside world and Kesho uses his stand for the old ways in order to protect his robbery of his own tribe. Before we learn that Kesho uses a rifle to slay two men taking Crandell and British prisoner Dawkins (who later quotes Kipling to Jai tells him a bad joke or play on the name Kipling in a story that is probably not that appropriate or funny to a 10 or 11 year old!). Crandell needs to get money to get out of here so promises to Kesho that he will kill N’Duma, but….
…Crandell wanted to kill him anyway because he testified against him. Crandell also wants to be the man who kills Tarzan who he ALSO wants revenge on. Kesho nabs Jai on the beach after Jai plays soccer which he just learned…and plays with Cheetah on the beach. Padilla enters the scene in a canoe/boat of some kind called Magra (?) and seems reunited with Tarzan, which he hasn’t seen for some time. He’s been to a school that he likes and has learned math and writing and reading from. Jai also has NO shoes on when he exits the boat and into Tarzan’s arms and on the beach. Somehow during the soccer game he, without stopping, gets sandals on his feet! Kesho turns Jai over to Crandell who wants to use him to lure Tarzan into a trap.
Everyone else looks familiar too even the witch doctor and many of the extras. We do not find out what crime Crandell committed or Dawkins either. We do know that Crandell was in jail for three years before this.
A few things here seem…off…though this is one of my favorite episodes. There’s stock footage of Tarzan, of course, as there is in just about every episode. BUT here, there’s also stock of Cheetah it would seem and of Jai, in curious ways. For instance, during the wonderful climatic fight in the water at the beach side, Jai watches with Cheetah from a bush safely kneeling. We then cut, AT LEAST TWICE, to Jai’s face, different hair length and almost style, different angle on what he’s looking at, and with a more puzzled expression on his face…which should not be there. LATER in the village, when Tarzan gives the coward tribe their next speech (and none of them, not even Chief Yaga…played by another familiar face Virgil Richardson, say a thing if I recall correctly), we see the same shot of Jai looking and staring. It appears to have come from this scene. What? Why? Cheetah follows the criminals to free Jai and eventually does but Jai is recaptured quickly and roughly (Kennedy might be a method actor because in this and another scene even more so, he appears to actually be hurting Padilla OR it’s just really convincing acting and directing!) by Crandell, who later pulls him by the rag tied in his mouth and then after Jai misdirects the shot that Crandell thinks kills Tarzan, Crandell smacks or punches the kid out.
Dawkins seems to care about Jai, briefly and tells funny jokes and seems this week’s comedic bad guy. He’s bad, though. He shoots at native villagers when he and Crandell burn it down. We also see them shoot at least two men and men only, despite there being dozens of kids in this AND one man goes down with NO gun shot being heard! What killed him? ;) So, we get that the bad men are bad men. There’s also a lot of stock footage from season one episodes of the villagers being attacked. The village is burned to the ground. Drummer (including muscled extra seen in almost every ep) drum messages. The village outpost of the tribe is next and there another familiar Tarzan actor is. The VERY muscled (you must see his abs) Charles Wood as Foreman.
Tarzan is shot in the head but it seems to have been diverted by Jai so that it isn’t? We’re not told or shown. I’m wondering if the censors played havoc with this episode. First, we don’t see where he’s hit or if he is hit. He must be as he’s down and out for a good time and it’s even been said that he DIED and we see that he is ready to be buried in the first graveyard we’ve seen in the series. The witch doctor (?) chants over Tarzan who opens his eyes and is alive! Surprise! Super Man!
Now, we’ve seen this happen before but never so overtly. It does seem almost as if they intended Tarzan to be dead dead and then be resurrected by the tribesman (?) maybe. Even if the second thing is not true, surely the first might be and then NO ONE TALKS about how Tarzan was dead and now is alive other than the witch doctor who does not speak English. Just that he’s alive is talked about and then we move on. Later, when Tarzan is seen alive (why not shoot him then?...to be fair Crandell does but he waits an awfully long time!), Crandell was sure he shot him in the head and thinks that Tarzan should be hurting…in his head. What? No one says anything more.
As reference to the Messianic sequence, Dawkins, when seeing Tarzan leading the people along the beach, says, “Look at him, a blooming Moses, he is, leading the people out of the wilderness.” Not sure today this would be done: Tarzan, a white man ordering Foreman, a black man what do to with his people, forcing them to leave. Sure, it’s to protect them but it smacks of white man telling black man what to do and again, not sure today this would be done this way with Tarzan basically ordering Foreman to do as he says.
In one of the most memorable scenes of the series AND this time the score is not just nice but fantastic. It’s Nelson Riddle’s first score that has a rousing climax and a thrilling pre amble all the way through beginning and end. It’s a fantastic score, the show’s best. BTW, the end credits for this copy, for some reason, has the first season theme (and I believe it is the earliest first season theme of the two used in season one). Still, as great as it is and maybe it’s great because of this: I noticed bits of music approaching the Batman themes and even one that seems to be used a lot in STAR TREK. As for the memorable scene of Tarzan walking toward bullet shots….there’s a BUT…
Tarzan walks and they shoot at his feet to make him dance. Why? Why not just kill him? Tarzan looks up at the sun. This made me wonder if the writers wanted us to assume the sun played a part in the plan to walk through their bullet fire (?). When Tarzan gets close, the two men seem unable to shoot him and Dawkins gets a knife in his chest or stomach (hard to see where) AND Kesho, just prior, gets shot by Dawkins when he tries to get the rifle away from the man (making Kesho is dumb villain).
Now, when Tarzan does get shot before Crandell runs out of bullets (and recovers quickly, of course), we see that he’s bleeding in more than one place so maybe…it was edited so as not to show how he was hit? The intension, again, seems to be that the bullets DID hit him or graze him and maybe the idea of aiming at his feet was dubbed in later? Either way, the villains come off as incredibly stupid not just shooting Tarzan.
In another WTF moment, Chief Yaga sends his only or eldest (it’s hard to hear what he says) son after Tarzan, inexplicably NOT telling Tarzan, who knows nothing about this and about the son’s coming death by spear in the back from Kesho. It’s said that it would take a messenger a long time to get to the outpost so Tarzan can get there quicker. SO the chief sends his son after Tarzan, a long gap in between the two of them, to help? What? Not only does Tarzan not know Kesho killed the son but the son is never mentioned BY ANYONE in the rest of the script! WTF? Was this just filler? The son’s name seems to be Zuko! Why does Kesho, who’s been sporting rifles the entire episode, suddenly use a spear to kill Zuko? Why does no one see him leave and follow Zuko? And after appearing with only a spear, he then finds the other two bad guys and has a rifle on him!?
Even more inexplicably, are we to believe that Tarzan seeing the tribe fleeing the desert and helping them, cannot recognize a young boy is NOT Jai? Or was that scene about something else? A sole boy kneels down on the beach as the tribe, men, women and children pass him by…as if he means nothing to any of them. Tarzan goes over to him, checks his face (did he think, being further away that this was Jai? If so, foul!), and then seems disappointed it is not Jai and then helps the kid move along the beach. We don’t see the kid again that I can tell but there are a lot of extras and many old men and young teenagers!
The scene where Jai is tied up seems to suggest, by where he is tied up, that the original script had Crandell aiming for Jai, which he does not do on screen. I’d would have sworn I saw a version years ago where he does indeed shoot at Jai’s feet and around the stake Jai is tied to but…memory does sometimes cheat…
Jai also sees more men shot, including a horrific sequence that seemed unnecessary where Crendall, Kesho, and Dawkins shoot three men at a small tent down in cold blood. Next time I do this, I’d have to count how many people Jai has seen gunned down in this series or killed! And he watches it all, never turning away but Padilla imbibes his face with horror every time. That scene is oddly staged, too. We see Crandell shoot the first one, standing with Jai and Kesho. Then, Kesho looks to be alone with Jai and shoots the other one as Jai watches, horrified, and the other two villains don’t seem to be there?! One of the men (though the first one is shot in the shoulder it would seem, it looks like all three are dead) wears a huge ring. Their bodies also seem to be in slightly different places from where they were shot?
N’Duma is strange in that he NEVER once offers himself to go to the killers to save Jai, nor does Crendell seem obsessed with killing him at all any longer, just Tarzan. And for once, Tarzan’s speech to the tribe DOESN’T get them to side with him immediately.
There’s also another scene that as played makes me think the script was altered. As N’Duma (who is he again? to the tribe?) and Kesho argue, Kesho says to N’Duma that he would see his people bow down to the other man. It’s such a bad thing to say that N’Duma knocks him down with a punch and Tarzan seems to accept it as acceptable? It seems as if Kesho meant to say or should have said, “WHITE MAN,” but the censors were afraid of that. Ely seems to have a good time playing around with Padilla and even dipping him in the water slightly, good naturedly.
Despite all the flaws, this is a fast paced enjoyable episode.
And wait, did Ron just wink at me (well, the camera) while walking toward the man shooting the rifle?
Also: though never called by name the baby elephant that Cheetah is on looks a lot like Tanto from VOICE OF THE ELEPHANT.
In one scene, the kids in the background playing war or fight club (!), totally steal the scene.
When Jai is tied up on the stake in the empty village, an animal (a dog?) runs in the background.
When playing Jai tries to bean Cheetah on the head with the soccer ball but the chimp blocks it.
Dawkins planned to go with Crandell to Dakcar and ship out to Marsailles.
In what must be stock footage, Ely dives and swims in a muck filled lake or river.
After the village outpost is emptied, what is that thing in the center of the area the villains look at? A stuffed doll or stuffed fake dog doll? What?
The bramble the villains walk Jai through looks like it hurts Padilla’s legs as he hops through it.
BTW, as Cheetah unties Jai from the stake get up, the close up indicates that Cheetah’s shot is footage from the earlier shot of him freeing Jai from being tied up earlier in the episode from the thick tree!
During Tarzan’s imploring speech to the natives not to give up N’Duma, he mentions Bolo and N’Gana as two other natives, both old men who are there and listening.
After the terrific fight in the water, Tarzan pulls Crandell out and brings him back to the village but…never noticed this before, he brings him to the tribe’s cemetery. Is he dead?
Tarzan calls Jai son again, “Let’s go, son.” As they leave, the music is that bi I already mentioned that sounds a bit like STAR TREK music.
Dawkins’ quote is from
THE WHITE MAN’S BURDEN by Kipling.
TAKE up the White Man's burden -
Send forth the best ye breed -
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild -
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
Take up the White Man's burden -
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.
Take up the White Man's burden -
The savage wars of peace -
Fill full the mouth of famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
Take up the White Man's burden -
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper -
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead !
Take up the White Man's burden -
And reap his old reward,
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard -
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly !) towards the light:-
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
"Our loved Egyptian night ?"
Take up the White Man's burden -
Ye dare not stoop to less -
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you.
Take up the White Man's burden -
Have done with childish days -
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgement of your peers.
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