Last year the character of Tarzan celebrated his 100th year in print. A serialized version of the story first appeared in 1912. A hardcover collection of Tarzan of the Apes first appeared in 1914. Being in the middle of the Tarzan centennial period it’s an opportune time to (re)visit many of the screen renditions of the character.
Tarzan and the Huntress (1947)
Probably the most unfortunate thing about Tarzan and the Huntress is that there are good things in the script, but there’s just not enough material. At times it seems like they only started with half-a-feature-length screenplay, elongated everything, shot cutaways and time-fillers to bolster the running time.
One of the switches that works really well here is that the impending threat is introduced prior to the stasis, therefore, at the outset of the film there is greater promise than there are in many of the films. The stasis is thus leant and undercurrent of tension none of the prior ones have.
What interferes with the success of this installment most is the fact that, here perhaps more so than any other film, it seems Tarzan is the only one with a memory of past interactions with white men in the jungle. Again Boy, whose youth and naivite are harder to sell the bigger and broader he gets; and Jane’s willing acquiescence to the desires of the civilized world are what causes a majority of the issues and strife.
Conflict is necessary but considering how flip the trappers are it’s hardly necessary for them to be tricked so. Tarzan attempts diplomacy bowing to the King and they cross him many times. Now, part of the issues is the concept and the writing there’s a line of the “war taking its toll on zoos.” How? Air raids, I would assume, but it that really a justifiable reason to over-poach? The greed is now underscored furthermore the animals are usually respected greatly by Tarzan and his family so Boy giving away two cubs for a flashlight is the hardest turn of events to take in the series.
The reason it feels like have a script elongated is that there is a stasis section in the middle of the film. Much like my sudden, un-segued shift to discussing it, such is that section to the flow of the film.
The conclusion of the film is not unusual and similar to others, including the fact that it’s not really earned. The next film, and the last time Weissmuller played Tarzan, would break the mold slightly but not for the better.