In 2012 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. Previous posts in this and other series can be found here.
Tarzan the Fearless (1933)
So, here we have another truncated bit of storytelling which renders this film quasi-cinematic at best. This film follows a somewhat different path to last week’s installment inasmuch as it was made at a far earlier date.
Here again the producer is Sol Lesser. This time the company releasing it is a Poverty Row outfit. However, the tale is not structured out of the whole 12-episode run of the serial but rather just the first four.
The IMDb offers additional insight on this structural quirk:
In addition to the 12-chapter serial, producer Sol Lesser edited the first four chapters into a 1933 feature film, with a trailer announcing future chapters at the theater weekly. However, some theaters did not show the trailer, causing confusion about the abrupt ending of the movie.
The one positive note is that I was viewing the 86 minute British release which does give a much fuller account of the narrative than the 61 minute US film. That at least gives some sense of what it could be. Sadly, the serial version is considered a lost film. This is sad not just because any film being lost is a bad thing but because Buster Crabbe is at his best over a long format and may have had a chance to more firmly assert himself as Tarzan given the full intended scope of the project.
This is another case of buyer beware and a good indicator as to why this film will typically be found in discount box sets.
Too much further commentary is almost unnecessary as it feels the most robbed of a chance to be notable as my notes on the title were scant since I felt like I had watched this film before as it had that similar disjointed and incomplete feeling as the others that were similarly fashioned.