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Tarzan's Fight for Life

UK 1958
produced by
Sol Lesser for MGM
directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
starring Gordon Scott, Eve Brent, Rickie Sorensen, Jil Jarmyn, James Edwards, Carl Benton Reid, Harry Lauter, Woody Strode, Nick Stewart, Roy Glenn, Milton Wood
screenplay by Thomas Hal Phillips, based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, music by Ernest Gold

Tarzan, Tarzan (Gordon Scott), Tarzan at MGM, Sol Lesser's Tarzan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jungle doctor Sturdy's (Carl Benton Reid) surgery has fallen out of favour with the local native tribe, the Nagassu, after their old chieftain has died and their witch doctor Futa (James Edwards) has taken over control of the tribe. This is especially worrying for the doctor's daughter Ann (Jil Jarmyn), whose fiancé Ken (Harry Lauter) works as doc Sturdy's assistant.

Enter Tarzan (Gordon Scott), who has just brought Jane (Eve Brent) over to Sturdy's surgery to be treated for appendicitis, and who tries to make peace between the medical doctor and the witch doctor - but to no avail, the witch doctor doesn't trust Tarzan one bit, he even makes Tarzan his captive (he manages to escape though) and brainwashes Molo (Nick Stewart), one of Sturdy's aides, so he will go and kill Jane - who is saved only in the nick of time, by another of the doctor's aides.

The witch doctor has a problem though, his grip on his tribe depends solely on his ability to keep the old chieftain's son, the young chief, alive, but the boy is ailing and on the verge of dieing - and Futa has no real abilities to cure the sick. So his second-in-command Ramu (Woody Strode) suggests to steal some medicine from the white doctor to cure the boy, and goes on stealing some ... but accidently, he picks a bottle of poison.

When Tarzan learns about all of this at the nursery, he rushes back to the Nagassu village to save the young chieftain, but it might already be too late, as Futa has already started a ceremony during which the boy is to be cured/poisoned. Tarzan arrives but in the nick of time, and he banks on the strong support he still has from many of the tribe's members to keep Futa from feeding the poison to the chieftain and instead make him drinking it himself - upon which the witchdoctor dies, and everything is well again.


After the previous Tarzan film, Tarzan and the Lost Safari, was shot at least partly in Africa (and therefore looked unusually convincing), Tarzan's Fight for Life returned to studio sets, which are of course much easier to handle and control, but which when shot in colour look even less convincing than when being shot in black and white. That notwithstanding, Tarzan's Fight for Life isn't too bad a Tarzan movie, its plot isn't terribly original but it's believable (in the contest of a Tarzan film) and moving and improved by many mini-dramas woven into main storyline (from the subplot of Jane's appendicitis to the doctor's aide who has a breakdown after having killed Molo). Also, Gordon Scott gives another solid (if far from great) performance in the title role. The only thing about the film that's a real turn-off is the introduction of a new Boy, Rickie Sorensen, as Tarzan and Jane's surrogate son. But fortunately he's kept rather in the background in this one (not so in the next entry, the proposed TV-pilot Tarzan and the Trappers). Oh, and the other thing that's really silly is chimp Cheetah wearing a loincloth. But apart from that, the film is a solid entry into the series, even if it's far from being a classic.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD