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  Tarzan's New York Adventure First We Take Manhattan
Year: 1942
Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Johnny Sheffield, Virginia Grey, Charles Bickford, Paul Kelly, Chill Wills, Cy Kendall, Russell Hicks, Howard C. Hickman, Charles Lane, Miles Mander, Mantan Moreland, Darby Jones, Cheeta, Elmo Lincoln
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: In the depths of the African jungle, Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) and his partner Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) are enjoying a swim with their adopted son Boy (Johnny Sheffield) when their frolicing is halted by the droning sound from above. They look up and see an aeroplane flying overhead, and it seems to be landing nearby; Boy is excited, as he always is by the prospect of seeing a plane, but Tarzan is wary. He goes over to see who these visitors are, and they turn out to be circus owners herding up animals for their show. But what if they took Boy with them as well?

And that's precisely what they do, for this, the final pairing with Weissmuller and O'Sullivan, which alone puts it in a special place in the hearts of Tarzan movie fans. O'Sullivan was growing tired of the series, and this instalment was written expressly to placate her so she got a more grown up storyline and the chance to wear a wardrobe more varied than the one she usually wore in these films, i.e. a short, animal skin dress. It wasn't enough, however, and she would not follow Weissmuller and Sheffield when they carried on to RKO for the rest of the films.

For all the more serious aspects to Tarzan's New York Adventure, it's the comedy you're most likely to remember. First the Ape Man has to get to the Big Apple, and to do so Boy has to be taken away: though he is not kidnapped, as many sources say, no, he goes of his own accord but only because he thinks his adoptive parents have perished in a fire started by a fearsome tribe that sees off the circus folk. Incidentally, the tribe scupper Tarzan by cutting the vine he is swinging from - why didn't anyone think of that before? It never crossed the minds of all those Great White Hunters in previous adventures.

Anyway, off Boy goes, flying to New York, and Tarzan and Jane are saved by Cheeta in the nick of time. Now they must reach the United States, but by the time they get to the city Boy is thirty-three years old! No, only joking, this is the movie world so the couple (with Cheeta) make swift progress across the continent and end up having to wear proper clothes, which for Tarzan is a first. He's such a strapping chap he has to have a suit made for him, and it's strange seeing Weissmuller so attired, even if that is what he undoubtedly would wear in real life.

For a while the film looks like Cheeta's New York Adventure, with the ape getting the lion's share (chimp's share?) of the camera time as he startles the urban folk and causes low level havoc, even riding on the roof of a taxi cab when Tarzan tries to leave him back in the hotel room. But some of the funniest bits of business see Weissmuller taking a shower with his clothes on and yelling with satisfaction, or marching straight up to a nightclub chanteuse (Virginia Grey) as she is singing, demanding answers. He's lots of fun to watch, putting this a notch above some of his other entries, and when he gets to show off his athleticism by, say, diving off the Brooklyn Bridge, you know he is a champion worth cheering for, so even if he has trouble explaining his ideas of freedom to an American court of law, we know he's a triumphant force for good. Music by David Snell.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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