TCM Johnny Weissmuller TARZAN DVD Collections: Vol 1 & Vol 2 (April 5)

Welcome to the Jungle!

Based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs...

Mondo Kane's picture

Welcome to the Jungle!

Based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs...

On April 5, as part of the ongoing popular series of Turner Classic Movies DVDs, Warner Brothers will release 8 classic TARZAN films that star Johnny Weissmuller, the most popular actor who ever played the title role in motion pictures. Most of the films include Maureen O'Sullivan in her famous role of Jane.

TCM Greatest Classic Films: Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, Volume 1 -and- TCM Greatest Classic Films: Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, Volume 2 -- Each contain two DVD discs, with a suggested retail price of $27.92 per set.

Contents of Volume One:

Contents of Volume Two:

(Each film's Synopsis further below)

Johnny Weissmuller (June 2, 1904 – January 20, 1984) was an Austro-Hungarian-born American swimmer and actor. Weissmuller was one of the world's best swimmers in the 1920s, winning five Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal. He won fifty-two US National Championships and set sixty-seven world records. After his swimming career, he became the sixth actor to portray Tarzan in films, a role he played in twelve motion pictures. Dozens of other actors have also played Tarzan, but Weissmuller is by far the best known. His character's distinctive, ululating Tarzan yell is still often used in films.

The most popular series of Tarzan films began with Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), starring Johnny Weissmüller and Maureen O'Sullivan. Weissmüller, the son of ethnic-German immigrants from Romania, was already well-known as a five-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming. He became the most famous and longest-lasting screen Tarzan, starring as the Ape Man in a total of twelve films, through 1948, the first six with MGM and the last six with RKO.

The beauteous and scantily-clad O'Sullivan was a major factor in the early popularity of the series. The role of Jane in the films was reduced after O'Sullivan departed in 1942 following the sixth film in the series (and the last for MGM), Tarzan's New York Adventure. Two Jane-less films followed before Brenda Joyce took over the role for the last four Weissmüller Tarzan films.

Starting afresh with an extremely free adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes which threw out everything that had gone before, the Weissmüller series was a boon to the franchise if not to the character. In contrast to the articulate nobleman of Burroughs's novels, Weissmuller's Tarzan was a natural hero with a limited vocabulary. The ersatz pidgin of his dialogue has often been mocked as "Me Tarzan, you Jane," although that particular line was never spoken in any of the films.

Tarzan and Jane were married in the novels, but the relationship was never specified in the Weissmuller films, even though they shared a jungle treehouse and (particularly in the second film of the series, Tarzan and His Mate) a strong sexual chemistry. In keeping with production code requirements, their son "Boy" was found and adopted rather than born to Jane. Weissmüller's yodel-like "Tarzan yell" became so associated with the character that it was sometimes dubbed into later films featuring different actors. Cheeta the chimpanzee provided comic relief through the series.

With the exception of The New Adventures of Tarzan, which was partially filmed in Guatemala, the Tarzan movies of this period were mostly filmed on Hollywood sound stages, with stock jungle and wildlife footage edited into the final product.

Trivia: TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934)
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.

For an 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 (included in this set).

Like other Tarzan/Weissmuller films, the elephants were Indian and not African. Large ears and tusks were fitted onto the animals in an attempt to make them look authentic.

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 the scene himself, sustaining only minor scrapes to sensitive places from Mary's rough hide.

Welcome to the Jungle!
Based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs...
TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932) The first teaming of Johnny Weissmuller as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Lord and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane sets a high adventure standard and includes an exciting sequence of elephants rescuing Tarzan and Jane from pygmy captors.

TARZAN ESCAPES (1936) A vile bwana has Tarzan caged and ready to ship to England for display as a sideshow freak. Can steel bars hold the ape man? Catch fascinating glimpses of Tarzan and Jane's jungle domesticity, including their dazzling treehouse.

TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934) This second Weissmuller/O'Sullivan film includes footage edited shortly after the movie's original release, including a playful skinny-dip sequence. Tarzan also subdues a rhinoceros, wrestles a crocodile and rescues Jane as she's besieged by lions and warriors near a sacred elephant burial ground.

TARZAN FINDS A SON! (1939) There's a new cry in the jungle – the cry of an infant. A baby that survived a plane crash is adopted by Tarzan and Jane. John Sheffield debuts as Boy and outside intruders trigger a family rift igniting a crisis of kidnap, rescue and reunion.

TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE (1941) A gold discovery endangers the Jungle Lord's family. Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan and John Sheffield star. Reginald Owen, Barry Fitzgerald, Tom Conway and Philip Dorn play interlopers who stir up trouble.

TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (1942) "Stone jungle," Tarzan says when he sees New York City. But the Lord of the Apes can master any jungle – especially when determined to find son Boy, kidnapped by unscrupulous circus operators.

TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS (1945) Tarzan welcomes home Jane (Brenda Joyce) from a family visit to England and then rushes to the aid a secluded female tribe put in jeopardy after Boy leads a party of archaeologists to their hidden valley.

TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN (1946) A murderous tribe that wears the disguise and claws of leopards attacks a visiting caravan and menaces Jane and Boy. Could the cult's beautiful and calculating queen (Acquanetta) outmatch the strength and fury of Tarzan?