ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
35. BLUE STONE OF HEAVEN part 1 ~ 1967.10.06
(Sam Jaffe ~ Dr. Singleton, William Marshall ~ Tatakombi...)
Tarzan leads an archaeological expedition to a burial ground deep in the jungle,
in defiance of an ancient taboo.
Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion
This is a feature film version of episodes 35 and 36, "The Blue Stone of Heaven."
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 35. THE BLUE STONE OF HEAVEN part 1
Review By Charles Mento
“It’s not your country, Tarzan.”
“Even I know that.”
Jai, proving he is somewhat humble.
“Look at you, you don’t even care about clothes.”
Coincidentally, today I read the portion of MARC CUSHMAN’S THESE ARE THE VOYAGES: the 1970s part 1 which involved Gene Roddenberry’s TARZAN involvement with Sy Weintraub after or just as Sy sold his rights to TARZAN. The same day I watched this! Of course, this being RON ELY’S TARZAN the Gods spoken of aren’t real, the dead people aren’t going to harm anyone, and the curse is not really a curse. If Gene made his movie and follow up TV series, things would have been seriously different. Gene also seemed to think this Ely show emasculated Tarzan.
I wholeheartedly disagree. Gene seemed to over sexualize everything. Here, Tarzan does give the girl, Mary Singleton, a touch to the chin and calls her kid but it’s clear he fancies her and her him, even if she is infuriated by him and more enamored with Colonel Takakombi, the always brilliant William Marshall. And did I hear right that Tarzan called her HONEY? And Kid?
BUT Marshall is not the only one we should recognize. Lots of Tarzan guest stars reoccur here. Lloyd Haynes is Matto, the duped tribal man who is used by the evil Josh Miller ---Josh played by the alum Harry Lauter. Ulla Strömstedt as Mary is not a Tarzan guest but she’s been in a huge number of FLIPPER episodes and the great Sam Jaffe as her father is known best as from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Other Tarzan frequent guests include Charles Wood as the Colonel’s Sergeant.
In fact there are number of other white men stuck with Singleton’s group, which seems a first for this show.
Someone seems to cut Jai’s hair between scenes and also give him different hairstyles AS he’s climbed the stone statue! Cheetah seems in love with Lauter as Miller and kisses him and then starts to hug Marshall and grips Sam Jaffe’s leg, too, when Cheetah gives him a piece of the stone he’s seeking.
There are also recognizable extras, too.
When Miller finds Jai and roughs him up, shaking him and talking mean to him, we think, “Uh, oh, Jai’s in trouble again.” ONLY…he’s not. In a big WTF moment, Miller arrives back at the base they’ve made in the “cursed” area of Kulow where a 1000 years ago people flourished WITH Jai on his back and they’re great friends by now. He’s giving the kid a piggy back ride. As ever, in this entire episode, Padilla’s face and body language reveals his fear, tension, joy, awe, and love of Tarzan. I think he’s great.
There’s the feel that there is something special about this episode. That at any moment those horrendous, monstrous mummies Tarzan and Matto find could come to life or that the giant statues they keep showing (one looks suspect as to its real weight as it seems very easy to shift by Miller single handedly BUT Miller also shifts a huge boulder counter weight against what seems to be heavier boulders like Superman!) could come to life or that there is a curse for real this time…and that men go insane. Alas, while it’s a shame this show never did anything like that, there’s a feel this was a bit like one of those lost civilizations Burroughs wrote about and/or the comic books indulged in or TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES reveled in and went too far the other way from this show! I wondered today what Gene would have thought of EPIC ADVENTURES or this episode.
Early on to stop a full native attack trying to stop the white men from entering Kulow (spelling? And the City of Sleeping Lions), Tarzan drives a jeep toward them, gets out and fells many. Tarzan driving a jeep is an odd thing to see…Tarzan driving is odd, though he should be able to, I suppose (?). I think this is the first time we saw that in this series and possibly EVER on screen (?). And maybe the last?
It’s almost as startling as seeing Godzilla fly.
In any case, there seem to be few, if any, lapses of logic in this episode that other episodes had, other than why Miller was so very mean to Jai upon first contact and then they were basically besties when he returns Jai to camp!
BTW the first few scenes of this episode are both creepy and action packed. Mary finds a man that was driving her jeep that an elephant stampede seemed to knock over by mistake and off screen BTW, standing with his back to her. He’s leaning against the side of a trench nearby and he’s dead when she checks him. He’s also one of TARZAN’s friends. I wonder if he, McGruder, I think his name was, was in any other episode. I seem to think he was! Tarzan touches him as a gorilla might, sympathetically but ape-man like he also tells Mary, “There’s nothing more we can do for Mr. McGruder,” when she claims they can’t leave him like this, dead and unburied. This might be like Tarzan but is it like Ron’s Tarzan?
Miller also has his own henchman who only shows up to fight Tarzan and get shot by the Colonel. Miller is also shot in cold blood by the Colonel. Earlier when the Colonel was trying to ward the tribe off Singleton’s group, he accidentally (?) shot Tarzan in the shoulder but it must have been a graze because I don’t believe we see any blood.
More than any other episode so far, this feels slightly ahead of its time. Watching it, I’m not sure what it is but this feels like an early 1970s production. A group of white men stuck in a place that has pyramids (they don’t look like those to me but are referred to as such and/or it might be that Singleton talks about these structures built OVER pyramids). The EXCELLENT cinematography. The twilight (and there’s plenty) shots of Tarzan stalking Miller and entering the tomb and in fact, ALL the coming night shots but all the shots. AND what probably sells this to me as more a 1970s production is the MUSIC. Nelson Riddle excels this time and is ahead of his time here. It SOUNDS like 1970 in this soundtrack and looks like it. The visuals, what we see, hear and feel all seem VERY 1970s.
I guess I’m thinking of movies like THE THIRTSY DEAD, THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE, PIRAHANA PIRANANA (where William Smith brings a girl and her boyfriend deep into the jungle to kill them), and possibly the weird wonderful jungle Filipino movies about the Chlorophyll Man (though those had their origins in possibly TERROR IS A MAN from 1959). And others.
Some of the music, briefly, at the Fence of Spears sequence just before some idiot shoots the tip of one spear that incites the tribe to re-attack (again), sounds a lot like a bit used in KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, an early to mid-70s TV show started from two earlier 70s TV movies of the week!
There are also slower fades to the next scene and atmospheric slower music, a relative staple of the 1970s all around, especially as Jai, Cheetah, and Tarzan take off to go ahead to Kulo, and their arrival (love Jai’s initial fear of the statue of the “god” and near scene of him running away only to be stopped by Tarzan, briefly).
The excellent locations and camera work also are quite magnificent to see. I don’t recall anything like this on TV before or after, the stone building I wonder if it was built for this show or something that was real.
What kind of eclectic tribe was this chasing Tarzan, Jai, and Mary? Also, note that the Nelson music seems totally NEW and even the familiar second season music for TARZAN is built into the new music and feels fresh and also feels 1970s-ish. Jai and Cheetah holding their hands up in surrender as Mary points a rifle at them has to be one of the cutest things in the entire series.
While running, holding hands, Jai falls from Ely’s grasp and this looks like it wasn’t scripted. Padilla seems to really fall but is scooped by Ely from hitting the ground or at least hitting it too hard. In the jeep as it reels away from the attacking group of tribesmen (IF that is what they are?), Mary, charmingly, has her arm protectively around Jai. The entire scene feels realistic.
Ely slapping Mary’s rifle and then tossing it is a very ape man thing to do. In past movies, wasn’t Tarzan very adverse to leading troops and “expeditions” TO “cursed” lands? BOY, not so much, but Tarzan, yes.
All in all, this is a strong episode, not without its clichés (Tarzan is once more caved in on, this time with a man who seems to say, “Tarzan is good,” but wants to kill him anyway thanks to Miller’s starting superstitions or using the old ones). Marshall is thoroughly innocent through most of this until he seems totally off his rocker by the very end, watched secretly from the top of the structure by Jai and Cheetah, who, for once, are hiding successfully.
I totally do not remember how this turns out, but here, there’s the feel that this episode has taken things up a notch and while the show has never really hit rock bottom or gone stale for long, if at all or ever, here, there’s the feeling that it is going the other way and just MIGHT try something new like pitting Tarzan against a Hitler type (Marshall’s character) and/or even ancient gods or mummies or something. NO such luck for most of that but the feel is one of action, mystery, AND horror, all mixed together in a well done script, again by an Irwin Allen writer, Jackson Gillis, who also wrote for THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.
A few more (!) observations:
While I like and appreciate Tarzan’s almost guerilla (!) like tendencies here in stopping the group chasing his friends (like hiding in a bush and then up a tree to point a knife at Matto’s head), when he orders Matto to call them back, they’re quite a few feet away and he calls them back VERY lowly. Do they have bionic ears? Does Matto have a telepathic power to them? It also seems they are within visual range BUT it takes them relatively long time to return to re-attack Tarzan. And later, when he’s STILL trying to kill Tarzan for Miller (and don’t get me wrong, I love that there are so many villains here), where is the rest of this tribe?
When Matto says it is not Tarzan’s country, does he mean Africa? Or some other country that this takes place in? Is this Egypt? Nothing seems to indicate that except pyramids and mummies, though mummies could be from other places, too.
Tarzan twice or more seems to taste the poison on the spears and darts that killed others.
The minion sent to kill Tarzan at the “pyramid” fails and looks like another guest actor who was prominent in the past episodes.
In the tomb, Tarzan touches one of the mummy’s faces. This seems like what an ape might do.
The legend is whoever stands to the right of the blue stone of the statue will live forever and rule the world.
Cheetah gives the Prof the azurerite and is pet by the other man.
The Blue Statue goes from being covered in boulders and dirt to…not in a few moments.
Why doesn’t Miller understand about getting on his knees? He’s shot down in cold blood by the Colonel. Jai watches from a high point, with Cheetah.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
36. BLUE STONE OF HEAVEN part 2 ~ 1967.10.13
(...Harry Lauter ~ Josh Miller, Ulla Stromstedt ~ Mary)
A power-mad colonel plans to steal the jeweled idol and dynamite the burial ground.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 36. BLUE STONE OF HEAVEN part 2
Review By Charles Mento
“Tarzan of the Apes.”
“Tarzan’s in trouble.”
Phew. Faster paced but this still feels, magnificently, ahead of it time, like a 1970s production. The 1970s, particularly the first five years or so but also stretching into shows like THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, THE BIONIC WOMAN, WONDER WOMAN and others as well as most horror movies like FROGS and the others I mentioned last time, took its time telling stories, bordering on making things more atmospheric and sort of far too slow moving. It works here and this, with the music and at times, the music stopped with no music at all as Tarzan swings (and again we get conflicting images of black haired Ely and not in stock footage), makes this still feel very 1970s.
At one point, Tarzan has to run to the radio outpost where he finds…it almost deserted. There is one dead radio operator and a few male natives dead, done by Tatakombi’s men. Tarzan is told this by the surviving radio operator after a well done fight…though I question how Ely’s Tarzan can so easily flip this stocky man around…and then…the radio operator says that the others are blind to follow Tatakombi, believing at first Tarzan is, too. THEN, he falls for the “god” Bascar. And runs off, frightened or believing in it all himself! WHAT?
There’s also a lot of comparing Tata to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Well, yeah. BUT then someone, I think either Mary or her father say that the people following the Colonel are good people but just blindsided by him. Excuse me? Does this mean the Nazis who followed Hitler were good people all and they were just taken in by him? NO! NO, they weren’t. They were just as evil! Okay, this angered me but not as much as the lame, horrid 2017 WONDER WOMAN movie which takes all the responsibility off human beings all together and says that some evil god like Ares is responsible for all the war----which is why the dopey writers of that POS changed the war from the origin of Wonder Woman from WW2 To WW1. Imagine the outcry from people if the movie told us that the Nazis were just good men who were hypnotized by Ares! And in the end, the “good guys”, clichés all, hug it out with the WW1 Germans! OMG.
Giving the Germans (in this case those following Tata) some leeway, Raymond, tells them maybe they should side with the Colonel, somethings might be better. I mean he promised to build schools. Mary gives him what he deserves: a smack. At least there was a partial reason given to why some people DID follow Hitler, dumbos that they were. Or that they just wanted to eat and/or their land back (but that’s another controversial part of the time leading up to the Holocaust that I can’t go into here!).
I can’t tell if some of the 500 tribesmen that arrive at the tomb/pyramid structure are from another movie or TV show or if they were really filmed just for this. It looks like they were filmed just for this. Except when we see tribesmen in the jungle on drums…that is also stock footage and we see the muscled drummer/extra again only in the stock footage. If anything the location work looks even better than in last episode but both are fantastic. We see it from all angles. Uhm, one of those sets of hands drumming the sticks on the tree IS Ron Ely’s!
Due to the stock footage, during these running, jumping, swimming, swinging and drumming (Ron’s drumming just parts of it and never as Tarzan) scenes, Ron’s hair goes from present day Tarzan to total black to light black or dark brown, sometimes in the same montage of scenes!
Okay, so this episode is good, let’s establish that right off. Very good. It’s interesting, fast paced (even with that slower 70s feel), well scored (again!), and fun. BUT Mary’s plan to go into the crowd to find Matto…disguised with a blanket over her head is ludicrous. AND if that’s ludicrous, then Jai’s plan to have Cheetah on his shoulders wearing a shawl is just plain OUT THERE silly and insane! AND Cheetah, as they all run to the back of the tomb/structure where Tarzan is being held, awaiting sacrifice, has to be one of the most surreal things ever in this show as CHEETAH is still wearing that shawl!
We see Mary just about get through to Matto. Then we see Jai making his way through the crowd with Cheetah on his shoulders with the shawl on, then we see Mary and Matto behind the structure, she with the blanket off and ALREADY reunited with Jai and Cheetah, Jai without the chimp on his back (one can imagine this was not Padilla’s favorite moment, having the chimp on his back but who can say?). It looks like their reuniting scene is cut out.
Matto’s getting the guard’s rifle is a strange moment. He just walks up to the guard who points the rifle but does not shoot. Matto just grabs it and pulls the guard down.
BTW when Cheetah is given the shawl by Jai, behind them is a tarp over a jeep or the boxes of supplies or something that has a logo on it: Bicarb… or something like that…possibly out of shot is the rest of the word Bicarbonate of…? In the next shot, the wording is gone.
Similarly, it’s hard to tell because it’s so fast passed and in long shot but…Matto, Mary, Jai, and Tarzan are fleeing the Sergeant (who BTW gets his gun to fire even after he has been underwater WITH IT for some time and BTW how did he not drawn when Tarzan choked him out underwater?). Tarzan gets Jai and hides him a huge jar.
As they run, he has sandals on. As Tarzan lifts him up and puts him in the jar, he does not or it looks that way. Tarzan, Mary, and Matto jump into the water to flee, chased. When they return, Jai climbs out of the jar and it looks like he has no sandals on…because he has to jump into the water to greet Tarzan.
Oddly, when Jai gets OUT of the water, he has his sandals on! WHAT GIVES? Maybe I’m wrong because it’s all fast but it looks like somewhere Jai lost and then gained his sandals back on during the chase, hiding, and diving.
This also makes me wonder if the Jai not diving into the water with them was improvised and not a part of the original script. I mean would you trust this kid to hide and not get caught? Or trust the men not to find him? Or Cheetah to give him away, which the chimp almost does?
Another odd thing that makes me wonder which Tarzan the show is trying to give to us is that: Ely’s TARZAN is to be sacrificed. He then is freed (Matto BTW is a useful companion, though a dope as he started a lot of the trouble in the last episode as he helped knock out—or kill?---at least three others or more guards holding Tarzan). Tarzan then talks the 500 outside into NOT believing in Tatakombi and this “god”, even toppling the statue and destroying it into parts (and getting shot in the shoulder AGAIN!). THEN, he talks as if he wants the crowd to believe in sacrifice to go after Tatakombi, which they do (and presumably kill him!).
Tarzan also throws the Sergeant over the statue, killing him.
Oh and it’s also strangely edited as Jai and the others watch from the tent…Tarzan is shot and no one seems to react with as much horror as they should have. WHAT?
William Marshall really goes for it in both episodes and is very good as a would be Hitler type. He also has the sergeant fake an arrow to his chest. Tata pulls it out to prove he is immortal but…oddly, the two guards that take the Sergeant away, let him take off his fake tribal outfit that he used to convince others that he was angry at Tata and wanted to kill him as a liar and false god and he just turns back into his Sergeant persona then and there, no real subterfuge. WHAT? This makes all the men there following Tatakombi look really stupid and dumb.
I also missed some of the dialog somehow as Tatakombi makes his speech…he seems to say Tarzan is on his side? And the crowd seems to go against that notion? Not sure?
BUT the point is: do they want a rational, thinking Tarzan or an angry vengeful ape man savage? Or both? Maybe they were going for the vestiges of the angry ape man under the sensible, non killer who is a killer thing? Maybe?
When Mary first puts the blanket over her head, we hear someone yell, “Mary!” amid the chanting of the natives, who don’t hear this call. Was this Jai? Trying to stop her? Or someone else? Or maybe I’m just hearing things in the chanting and whooping.
Unpredictably and refreshingly, Raymond doesn’t give Mary or Jai away or the two men on Mary’s side who knock the guard out and take him into their tent. He does not approve of their actions though and we expect him to turn them in. He never does.
Despite everything though, this episode moves fast, is thoughtful, and has a great, refreshing feel to it. It’s one of the better episodes of the series.
Charmingly, when Tarzan does leave his little group in Matto’s hands in order to go get Tatakombi, he says, “Take care of them, Matto,” and pats Cheetah on the head, including Cheetah in this, “…all of them.” Also earlier, upon emerging from the water, Jai jumps in to happily greet Tarzan and when they get out of the water, also charmingly, Mary hugs Jai. She’s also been protective of him the whole story.
Earlier the wretched guards started shooting at Cheetah but Matto stopped them and Mary shot one trying to shoot Tarzan. One of the men accompanying the Sergeant through the water DOES look a bit like Hitler! During the fight in the tomb itself, some of the faces of the mummies look different and more pronounced since last episode: maybe one of them? Are they becoming more solid and returning to life!?
The capital is over 200 miles from the site; the gov’t radio outpost is about 25 miles away, a relay station.
A very cool sub plot is Mary, whose already proven she can’t shoot a human being and tells Tarzan so. Mary seems closer to Tarzan since the first episode and since the Colonel seems shady. She offers the gun to Tarzan who tells her to keep it; she may need it. She still doesn’t think she can shoot someone but in the rescue of Tarzan, who was to be sacrificed, in order to save Tarzan she has to shoot one of guards who was about to kill Tarzan. Tarzan touches her chin again and this time she seems NOT to mind at all.
During a fight, the Colonel pulls Tarzan’s hair…like as they would have said in the 60s and 70s…like…a girl!
During the Colonel/Tarzan fight, both Mary and Raymond hold onto Jai, protectively. Not sure how the entire group can see it from their vantage point in the tent but there you go…
Tarzan tosses the statue over; Mary’s holding onto Jai alone. Then, it is back to Raymond AND Mary holding onto him in the very next shot. Then when we see them again, it is Mary alone with Jai holding him (and her father on the other side). Point is: Raymond seems to vanish and reappear and then vanish again in between shots.
More than any other episode, there are some moments here where Tarzan resembles the poise and actions of the Burroughs’ Tarzan and as I know little of those, at least, of the Tarzan of the comics, especially the DC comics. His movements look like Tarzan, especially atop the tower after the fight and then when and after dropping the statue.
And it’s not just Ely who is great in this episode but Padilla as well but Haynes stands out as someone who has at least two moments of truth…which he rises up for the truth and honor and does the right things.
When Matto is in the tent, he has no tribal markings but when he runs outside to declare Tatakombi a liar, he does.
When Tarzan is held captive in the back of the tomb area, there is a large wooden elephant from a previous episode. Jai hides behind its legs and unsurprisingly risks capture and death to untie Tarzan.
In this episode a square smalls around the crowd chasing Tatakombi (to his death?) and then the screen shows the square get larger. Perhaps this was a commercial break?
Most of the copies have been okay but this copy has some static scratches on the film and it is VERY noticeable when the underwater chase/fight happens between Tarzan and the Sergeant and when Mary and Matto are swimming. The original photography and cinematography during this sequence and during the whole two parter is excellent however.
Tarzan tells Matto that maybe he will build a city like this but not a city of death but a city of life.
Not for the first time, Tarzan throws his sling away. The many Mary calls Raymond is named Ramon in the credits?
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
37. MAGUMA CURSE ~ 1967.10.20
Maguma Curse (Simon Oakland ~ Burnett, Barbara Luna ~ Frankie)
Tarzan battles to save a young woman from a curse of death implemented by an treacherous engineer.
I have to admit that this episode started out magnificently, seemingly about to turn out the best of the “horror” episodes of this series that it occasionally does. I also have to admit that I can recall EVERY villain from STAR TREK, the original series, every SPACE: 1999 alien, and every guest star character from LOST IN SPACE and the other Irwin Allen shows from each other. I can’t with TARZAN.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 37. MAGUMA CURSE
Review By Charles Mento
It’s not a criticism just an observation as the nature of the show and the premise doesn’t really mix to give us particularly memorable or different villains. Sure I can remember the Colonel and his sister and the William Marshall Colonel but that’s about it.
I love Simon Oakland but more as Tony Vincenzo in KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. I’m not sure I like him as much a villain for TARZAN. For one, he is not a particularly imposing adversary for the ape man. AND as Judson Burnett, he is okay but he appeared once before in TARZAN and I thought maybe that character was this character. He isn’t. Tarzan did lock horns with Burnett in the past but as so often happens in this show, they are referring to events we did not see.
I also happen to love Barbara Luna in her appearances in STAR TREK, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON, BUCK ROGERS, and so many others, however here as Francois “Frankie” McVeigh, the daughter of a dreamer, she’s…a bit too shrinking violet in distress.
After some of the more recent female guest star characters being somewhat more independent, to go back to the screaming, losing her mind, doing the wrong thing in a crisis and signing her “diamond mine” over to the villain, innocently, she’s a bit…well, not annoying but shocking, even for the 1960s as a helpless and frankly !() dopey female character. She plays the daughter of a man that Tarzan seemed to know, Peter McVeigh, who is blamed by the Ebu tribe for cutting down their precious Maguma tree, so the witch doctor puts a curse on him. When the other tree (?) loses its leaves (as it glows blue!), he will die. Somehow he does die and I’m not sure we ever find out what really kills him, though Tarzan tells Frankie that he died of cholera. Tarzan doesn’t seem to believe that he died of cholera.
One of the many things that bothers me about this episode is that we never really, truly find out what Tarzan believes. He seems to mock the entire thing when confronting the witch doctor, the creepy old man, N’Gota. He is sarcastic and catches him in a lie from his god Un-Gai and yet he also seems to think the M’Boto character might have killed Peter who was blamed by the real villain, Burnett. HOW did Peter die? We never really find out? Did they infect him? Did they use a dart?
THEN, Tarzan goes and threatens the witch doctor with taking his soul out of him and locking it in a room without air. Tarzan also speaks Swahili to Burnett, calling him a hyena later on.
Other than NEVER finding out if Tarzan believes in the supernatural, this episode, for the first time in the series, shows us that the supernatural DOES happen and exists. While as a kid, I always wanted this show to feature such things (such as live dinosaurs, monsters, aliens, lost cities and their lizard occupants, witches, demons, etc), I’m not sure that this episode doing this is a good thing. For one, in hindsight, with respect to the wonderful Tarzan Joe Lara was, that series in the 1990s didn’t really work for me as it featured far too many of those things and it just…well, a re-watch is needed but it just seemed silly and inconsequential, something even the worst of the Ron Ely series episodes didn’t.
Here, it is an uneven universe created just by this episode.
The other thing is that the episode starts out unsettling and atmospheric with some great editing and sound effects and music. For the first 20 minutes or so we do not hear the TARZAN theme referenced in the soundtrack and I thought, for once, we would not but we later do when Tarzan goes the village. Aside from that, there’s again a strong 1970s feel to this 1967 episodes, when…the night scenes feature just drums beating uneasily and then they…stop and we see animals in stock footage we’ve seen before…but no music and little sound effects. It’s unsettling and even scary. Even Tarzan takes notice of the silence. In MORE stock footage.
As an aside, there’s an embarrassing amount of stock footage but more on that later.
These early scenes take in the narrative as NIGHT in the jungle in these episodes seems sinister, filled with glowing death trees, black mamba snakes meant to kill Frankie, DARK AS NIGHT black panthers, witch doctors sitting in the middle of the road with a strange contraption he built, an elephant throwing dirt on itself (TWICE! In more stock), natives in the trees (stock) with weapons, natives with spears in the jungle waiting outside your window to kill you, and more things to kill you than you know.
As Danial, the nice official (?), who also seems to be once a native himself, says, “There are many things in the jungle that can kill you, if you taste them, touch them, or even breathe in the air around them. The witch doctors know of these things.” This implies a scientific reason for the death of Peter and the possible near death of Frankie but we’re never given more on that. Danial, against all odds, survives the episode, though he is knocked out by Mike Purdy (no, not the Joanna Lumley Purdy from THE NEW AVENGERS), who in the end tries to get away but is chased by M’Bolo.
Tarzan’s pride in scaring the witch doctor goes with punishment: he’s hit in the head by a rock thrown by M’Bolo, who later, afraid of the test of truth tells the witch doctor he lied and helps Tarzan…but only because Tarzan lived to escape a trap that M’Bolo put him in for Burnett, who was paying them (and in a curious line of dialog, Tarzan asks what Burnett is paying the natives, “A whipping?” WHAT?). M’Bolo and the witch doctor and this entire foolish tribe (are they foolish since their death curse seemed to work or are they just immoral?) go unpunished.
On the other hand, when the tree was cut down (it turns out by Burnett, what a shock!), the tribe experienced repercussions: the ground would not grow and what did grow seemed to kill children who ate the food! I don’t think this is discussed but it is possible the MERCURY that Tarzan reveals is actually in the mine (and not diamonds) poisoned the ground and killed the children (thankfully off screen)?
Speaking of children: alas, no Jai. At one point near the dock Frankie comes on in a beautiful ship and beautifully shot scene, Tarzan tells Cheetah to go play and we do not see Cheetah again. I don’t’ think Cheetah is even in the jeep when Tarzan goes with Danial (a spelling that seems more tribal than the more usual Daniel) and Frankie instead of going upriver. Why was Tarzan going to go up river? He changes that when he sees Burnett is involved with Frankie on the ship, pretending to be a friend. He and Tarzan have a contentious past.
If NIGHT is trouble, then day is not and the day scenes following the night scenes show happy times, happy animals and yield a happy soundtrack.
All of this in first half makes for an unsettling set up, which may give us some strong horror. We are let down therefore by the second half. First, Frankie, told to stay inside, doesn’t. She screams at the face at the window, which any of us might but then continues her hysterics. That plus she and Danial are sitting in the room right in front of a window with the shades up. And she refused at first to believe any of the dangers confronting herself, Tarzan and Danial.
So Tarzan is thrown where exactly? In the mine? We get MORE stock footage when we see a long clip from THE FIRE PEOPLE of Tarzan in the volcano from last season. Now, in 1966, viewers who missed that episode and those that wanted to see the joys of it (and I’m not being sarcastic, it was terrific), could see some of this again in this “repeated” clip from that. Trouble is we now do have DVDs, videos, streaming services, and blu rays and we can see it any time we want. It also smacks of saving money, which, for series like TARZAN and THE TIME TUNNEL (the show’s foe which if you look at the non-renewal failed at the hands of TARZAN on the same night), it is forgivable. Nothing like either show was on TV at the time. In any case, this along with the other stock is sort of…tedious these days. It also …well, doesn’t fit in. There’s no active volcano around in the rest of the episode AND Tarzan swims through water he finds (which gives us MORE stock footage!) which if it were near a volcano that active, he probably should NOT be able to.
Tarzan also takes an incredibly LONG time to get back to Danial and Frankie, who are stranded alone at the house/base. Even considering his capture. I almost forgot he was in the show for a bit! And when Burnett gets her signature on papers, enabling him to have her killed by the tribe at the double tree sling (which would tear her apart, horribly), Frankie seems more interested in protecting herself than in helping Danial, who was already knocked out and might have been dead! She later runs out in the rain yelling for the natives to stop the drumming and is captured. The captors must have really liked her though as someone, after the rainstorm, seems to have stylized her hair!
By the time Tarzan does show up, the episode is bogged down in sleepiness and tedium. I don’t even feel the “test of truth” that we saw enlivened anything. First, the two men had to stick their hands into a basket with another poisonous snake to retrieve a rock each. If killed the man who was killed was the liar. Sigh. Both get the rock out. Burnett seems to know the trick of keeping a steady hand.
Then, they have to have a deadly tarantula crawl on their arm (for Tarzan’s doesn’t really move all that much but stays on his hand). I love Oakland but didn’t need to see him shirtless!
Next, the anti-climax (Tarzan never had to beat the tar out of him) as Burnett falls over the pit of fire and dies (and the British Purdy flees). We never find out if M’Bolo catches Purdy (if so will he be put on the double tree? He didn’t kill the first tree).
Tarzan seems to have a lot of love for Frankie, who was abandoned by her father into foster homes until the age of 14. Her father supposedly loved her very much. Going back to the day is fine thing: a huge snake overhead that scares Frankie is laughed off by Tarzan and he pats the girl into being calm: it’s day so this snake is all right. Frankie mentions singing for her supper.
In the end, we find out only that Frankie is now rich thanks to the rare mercury in the mine. We don’t know if there were explanations for the death of her father, the children, or the poison in the ground. Then again maybe I wasn’t paying attention because I was bored by this episode.
Oh and having clips from a better episode and an episode with Jai in it, only serves to make us remember Tarzan’s drive to save the boy which this episode doesn’t have, though he does want to save Frankie.
This is not, from my review, a terrible episode but it’s boring about mid-way through to be honest and does not move like the other episodes…ALL other episodes!
And again, the tribe go unpunished. Oops, we made a mistake by killing the wrong person for the man who was paying us and told us that wrong person who destroyed our stupid tree. Sigh. If that isn’t enough, now the supernatural in this show exists, despite everything we’ve seen before this! And we still have no idea what Tarzan believes: does he believe all the mumbo jumbo (as perhaps Johnny’s Tarzan did) or not (as perhaps Henry’s and Jock’s TARZAN didn’t?).
There’s also one part as Burnett tries to get Frankie to first sign his papers where the DVD looks like it failed to restore a damaged part of the film and it looks dark for a few seconds of time, like a very old film. It resumes to normal quickly, though.
Danial wasn’t sure Frankie would remember him as they haven’t seen each other in a long time.
The fire wielder dancer is impressive as is the stunt over the flaming pit (which is NOT stock footage though close ups of Ely on the rope might be?).
The start of the dancing looks like an entirely different tribe at the very opening of the episode.
Tarzan in the past ran Burnett out of the Kimberly (?).
During the journey in the jeep, Frankie, smart girl, falls asleep with her head on Tarzan’s chest.
The music during Tarzan’s swim underwater is particularly good and reflects the theme song.
One shot of Tarzan running across terrain glowing by a darkening sunset is amazingly gorgeous.
Visit our thousands of other sites at:
BILL and SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2021 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.