|Tarzan's Greatest Adventure|
|Directed by||John Guillermin|
|Written by|| Bernie Giler |
|Story by||Les Crutchfield|
|Based on||Characters created|
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
|Produced by|| Sy Weintraub |
|Starring|| Gordon Scott |
|Edited by||Bert Rule|
|Music by||Douglas Gamley|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$1 million (est. US/Canada rentals)|
Tarzan's Greatest Adventure is a 1959 Eastmancolor adventure film directed by John Guillermin, produced by Sy Weintraub and Harvey Hayutin, and written by Les Crutchfield, based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. With a strong supporting cast that included Anthony Quayle and Sean Connery, and a focus on action and suspense, the film won critical praise as a Tarzan film that appealed to adults as well as children.
The film features a literate Tarzan portrayed by Gordon Scott. The character of Jane, Tarzan's wife, does not appear and is not mentioned. At one point, Tarzan briefly romances a female character, suggesting that he is a loner, not a family man. Cheeta, Tarzan's chimp companion in many films, appears only a few times near the start of the film, and the kind of comic relief that Cheeta represents is generally absent from the film.
During the night the village of Mantu is raided for its supply of dynamite by what appear to be black Africans. The village doctor and radio operator interrupt the robbery and are fatally shot. Before dying, the radio operator gasps, "Slade" over the shortwave radio.
The next morning, Tarzan is awakened by African drums that alert him to something wrong. He arrives at Mantu, where a funeral is held for the fallen villagers. British police inspector Colonel Sundley informs Tarzan of the previous raid and that root dye was found. This leads Tarzan to believe that the robbers were "white men painted black" rather than black Africans. Tarzan meets Angie, a self-absorbed American model and pilot. Tarzan knows her manager, Sanchez, and immediately dislikes her manner. However Angie does tell him that she overheard the name "Slade" on her airplane radio. Tarzan remembers a "Slade" as "a man with a passion to kill"; a ruthless criminal who once sacrificed three men rather than lose the hunt for a prized rogue elephant.
After dropping off his pet chimpanzee Cheeta at his tree-house, Tarzan heads up river by canoe to catch Slade and his gang. Along the way Tarzan sees Angie's plane. She taunts him with low flyovers. But her Cesna engine stalls, and Angie crashes into the river. Tarzan saves her from a crocodile but thereafter can't leave her stranded, so he continues the hunt with Angie alongside.
Meanwhile, Slade and his quartet of thieves (consisting of the sullen ex-con Dino, the drunkard O'Bannion, an implied ex-Nazi Kreiger, and Slade's Italian girlfriend, Toni) continue by riverboat towards what is revealed to be a secret diamond mine. The dynamite was stolen for excavating the gems. When their riverboat malfunctions the thieves begin to quarrel among themselves, allowing Tarzan and Angie to catch up. O'Bannion's teases Dino to the point of Dino trying to kill him. But during a chase, Dino stumbles into quicksand and drowns. The criminals find their boat riddled with arrows, a signal that Tarzan has tracked them down. Slade and O'Bannion disembark, while Kreiger hurls dynamite at Tarzan, wounding him. Tarzan manages to kill O'Bannion, but Slade closes in. With Slade gone, Kreiger believes he can coerce Toni into telling him where the diamond mine is and tries to eliminate Slade. Slade survives Kreiger's attempt, pummels him into submission, and continues with Toni towards the mine.
Tarzan's injuries require Angie to tend to him, she comforts him and then risks her life to steal medical supplies from Slade's anchored boat. Angie is captured by Slade, who uses her to lure Tarzan into a trap. With Slade absent, Kreiger sees another chance, he frees Angie and tells her to inform Tarzan where they are. Toni overhears Kreiger and flees to warn Slade, but she accidentally falls to her death through the trap door pit meant for Tarzan. Kreiger convinces Slade that Toni was frightened by a passing lion, and the men continue toward the diamond mine. Once inside, Kreiger confirms that it is a mother lode of diamonds. However Slade is more interested in killing Tarzan than in the gems. Kreiger tries to push Slade down a pit to his death and almost succeeds, but Slade survives. He confronts Kreiger, who offers him all the diamonds he has so far collected if he will let him go, but Slade is unmoved and drops Kreiger down the pit to his death.
Tarzan is nursed back to health by Angie, and they engage in an off-screen romance. Afterwards, Tarzan continues to be obsessed with capturing Slade, much to the displeasure of Angie. "Why don't you just leave him to the jungle?" she argues. Tarzan replies, "this is where I belong", explaining further that to allow Slade to escape would endanger everyone. He thanks Angie for her help, then grabs a vine and swings away for a final confrontation with Slade.
From high atop a river bluff, Slade fires rifle shots that intentionally miss Tarzan but allows him to know where Slade is. Tarzan scales the sheer bluff, setting up the final melee both men long for. At first Slade gets the upper hand by lassoing Tarzan with his wire noose. But eventually Tarzan's superior strength and endurance wins out, and Tarzan pushes Slade over the edge of the cliff onto the rocks below.
Tarzan bellows his famous yell, runs to a pool, and gazes upon his reflection triumphantly. The sound of Slade's riverboat distracts Tarzan. He hurries to the cliff again, only this time to see Angie below, steering the boat back to Mantu. Tarzan hesitates, considering joining her. But he looks back at the jungle, realizes that's where he belongs, and returns instead to his tree-house and Cheeta.
The Tarzan films had been produced by Sol Lesser since Tarzan Triumphs (1943). In April 1958 Lesser sold his company, including the rights to the Tarzan films, to Sy Weintraub for a reported $3.5 million.
Gordon Scott had played Tarzan for the four previous films in the series under Lesser: Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955), Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957), Tarzan and the Trappers (1958), and Tarzan's Fight for Life (1958). In July 1958 he announced he would not return as Tarzan, refusing to sign an exclusive contract. Weintraub said he would find a new Tarzan.
In September 1958 Weintraub announced he had signed a two picture deal with Paramount Pictures to make two Tarzan films. The films would be shot on location and the first one would be called Tarzan's World Adventure.They were still looking for an actor to replace Scott. In October the producers announced Theodore B. Sillis had signed to direct. In November Hedda Hopper reported that Weintraub, unable to find a new Tarzan, has signed a seven year deal with Scott to play the role.
The producer decided to make a different style of film. Tarzan's Greatest Adventure would present a grittier, more realistic Tarzan. A loner who could be as savage as his opponents, but could also speak eloquently and politely to allies. Tarzan would also be made vulnerable and not as invincible as previous incarnations.
"Tarzan has grown up," said Scott in 1959. "I speak clearly understandable, everyday English."He also said "Lesser saw Tarzan as part of a family unit, but if you read Burroughs' books, the bastard [Greystoke] really knew what to do. I always wanted to play it with some scars on me; he used to battle the bull apes, you know, and get a couple of lumps. I wanted to pursue that, but they wouldn't buy it. It may seem like a minor thing, but those minor things really add up."
This vision of Tarzan heralded a new direction for the character and the series. He became more like the original Edgar Rice Burroughs creation (that is, articulate and intuitive) and even occasionally traveled abroad to make other wilderness regions safe—as in Tarzan Goes to India (1962) and Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966).
Filming started 9 February 1959.The film was shot on location in Kenya and at Shepperton Studios in London. Stock safari footage was used to portray wildlife, especially animal attacks. Paramount did a deal with Sol Lesser Productions with a guarantee of $600,000 in turn for the releasing rights; the deal also gave Paramount 50% of the ownership of the negative. The film cost $750,000. Paramount agreed to pay for prints and advertising.
John Guillermin later said "For a short schedule, fairly low-budget picture, the whole affair really got me quite excited."
Scott said "Connery was marvelous... He and I had some good giggles, when we got back to Shepperton. They wanted to use him in the next Tarzan, even though he gets killed in this one because he was very good. He said OK. but he had to do this thing for [producers Albert] Broccoli and [Harry] Saltzman — and that was Dr. No . We couldn't touch him after that."
While the film was being made, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer made their own Tarzan film, Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959). They were able to do this because they retained remake rights for the 1932 film of the same name.
FilmInk called it "a masterpiece in the series, the best Tarzan film since Tarzan and His Mate (1934), and perhaps the most remarkable “turnaround of a franchise” in Hollywood history... the leap in quality after what had been over a decade of steady decline is remarkable."
Gordon Scott stayed for one more Tarzan film, Tarzan the Magnificent (1960), before being replaced by Jock Mahoney in Tarzan Goes to India (1962) which was also directed by Guillermin.
Cheeta is a chimpanzee character that appeared in numerous Hollywood Tarzan films of the 1930s–1960s, as well as the 1966–1968 television series, as the ape sidekick of the title character, Tarzan. Cheeta has usually been characterized as male, but sometimes as female, and has been portrayed by chimpanzees of both sexes.
Gordon Scott was an American film and television actor known for his portrayal of the fictional character Tarzan in five films of the Tarzan film series from 1955 to 1960. Gordon Scott was the eleventh Tarzan, starting with Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955). He was "discovered" poolside, and offered "a seven-year contract, a loin cloth, and a new last name."
Tarzan's New York Adventure is a 1942 black-and-white adventure film from Metro Goldwyn Mayer, produced by Frederick Stephani, directed by Richard Thorpe, that stars Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. This was the sixth and final film in MGM's Tarzan series and was the studio's last Tarzan feature until 1957's Tarzan and the Lost Safari. Although Tarzan's New York Adventure includes scenes set in New York, as well as the customary jungle sequences, it is yet another Tarzan production primarily shot on MGM's back lots.
Tarzan the Magnificent is a 1960 British Eastmancolor film, the follow-up to Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959). Its plot bears no relation to that of the 1939 Edgar Rice Burroughs novel of the same name. The film was directed by Robert Day and produced by Sy Weintraub and Harvey Hayutin. Gordon Scott made his last appearance as Tarzan in the film, while Jock Mahoney appeared as villain Coy Banton. Mahoney would take over the Tarzan role himself beginning in the next film, Tarzan Goes to India, in 1962. The motion picture does not include Jane.
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Sol Lesser was an American film producer. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1961.
Tarzan, the Ape Man is a 1959 American action adventure film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Denny Miller as Tarzan, Joanna Barnes as Jane, Cesare Danova, and Robert Douglas. The film is loosely based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel Tarzan of the Apes, and is a remake of the classic 1932 film of the same name. The film was directed by Joseph M. Newman, and the score was composed by jazz musician Shorty Rogers. MGM would release another remake of the film in 1981.
Tarzan Finds a Son! is a 1939 Tarzan film based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was the fourth in the MGM Tarzan series to feature Johnny Weissmuller as the "King of the Apes" and the fourth of six films in which he stars with Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane; following this pairing was Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) and Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942).
Sy Weintraub was a film and television producer best known for his series of Tarzan films and television episodes between 1959 and 1968. Weintraub broke with the Johnny Weissmuller formula of portraying Tarzan as a pidgin-speaking noble savage who lives in a treehouse with Jane and Boy. Instead, his Tarzan was an educated loner, much closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs's original conception of the character and Boy is replaced by a young orphan named Jai. Weintraub also produced two Sherlock Holmes films for television and was an owner of Panavision.
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Tarzan and the Jungle Boy is a 1968 adventure film starring Mike Henry in his third and final appearance as Tarzan. Rafer Johnson and Aliza Gur co-star. The film was produced by Sy Weintraub and Robert Day, written by Stephen Lord and directed by Robert Gordon. It was released on May 1, 1968.
Tarzan and the Lost Safari is a 1957 action adventure film featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous jungle hero Tarzan and starring Gordon Scott, Robert Beatty, Yolande Donlan and Betta St. John. Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone, it was the first Tarzan film released in color, Eastman Color. It was also MGM's first Tarzan film since 1942 and filmed in Nairobi, British East Africa. The character of Jane does not appear in this motion picture.
Tarzan and the Trappers is a 1958 action adventure film featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous jungle hero Tarzan and starring Gordon Scott, Eve Brent, Rickie Sorensen and Lesley Bradley. It was filmed as three pilot episodes for a television series which were edited into a feature film when the project was abandoned, and so was released in black and white rather than color, like other contemporary Tarzan films. The film did finally appear on television, but only in 1966. It was shot in Chatsworth, California.
Tarzan's Deadly Silence is a 1970 adventure film composed of an edited two-part television episode of Tarzan released as a feature. It stars Ron Ely as Tarzan. Former Tarzan actor Jock Mahoney and Woody Strode co-star. The film was produced by Sy Weintraub and Leon Benson, written by Lee Erwin, Jack H. Robinson, John Considine, and Tim Considine and directed by Robert L. Friend.
Tarzan's Fight for Life is a 1958 Metrocolor action adventure film featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous jungle hero Tarzan and starring Gordon Scott, Eve Brent, Rickie Sorensen, Jil Jarmyn, and Cheeta the chimpanzee. The film was directed by H. Bruce Humberstone. The picture was the second Tarzan film released in color, and the last to portray the ape man speaking broken English until Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981). The filming locations were in Africa and Hollywood, California.
Tarzan and the Huntress is a 1947 American adventure film starring Johnny Weissmuller in his eleventh outing as Tarzan. Brenda Joyce makes the third of five appearances as Jane and Johnny Sheffield marks his eighth and final appearance as Boy. Patricia Morison and Barton MacLane co-star. The film was produced by Sol Lesser and Kurt Neumann, written by Jerry Gruskin and Rowland Leigh and directed by Kurt Neumann. It was released on April 5, 1947.
Jiggs was a male chimpanzee and animal actor who originated the character of Cheeta in the 1930s Hollywood Tarzan movies. He was owned and trained by Tony and Jacqueline Gentry.
Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungle by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization, only to reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. The character has been variously depicted as articulate and sophisticated as in the original novels, and as a noble savage with limited language skills such as in the films featuring Johnny Weissmuller.
John Guillermin was a French-British film director, writer and producer who was most active in big budget, action adventure films throughout his lengthy career.