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Tarzan's Magic Fountain

USA 1949
produced by
Sol Lesser for RKO
directed by Lee Sholem
starring Lex Barker, Brenda Joyce, Albert Dekker, Evelyn Ankers, Charles Drake, Alan Napier, Ted Hecht, Henry Brandon, Henry Kulky, Rory Mallinson, Elmo Lincoln, David Bond, Rick Vallin, Suzanne Ridgeway, Blue Washington
screenplay by Curt Siodmak, Harry Chandlee, based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, music by Alexander Laszlo

Tarzan, Tarzan (Lex Barker), Tarzan at RKO, Sol Lesser's Tarzan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Aviatrix Gloria James (Evelyn Ankers) has crashed her plane in the African jungle 20 years ago and was presumed dead. However, actually she found her way to the Blue Valley, where the (exclusively white) natives have found the fountain of youth, and while they fiercely guard their secret from outsiders, they welcome Gloria into their midst.

Now: Back in England, Gloria's lover from way back Douglas Jessup (Alan Napier) is accused of murder and only Gloria could clear him - so Tarzan (Lex Barker), the only outsider allowed in the Blue Valley, fetches Gloria, who still looks as young as 20 years ago, and sends her to England to relieve Douglas of his charges.

Later, Gloria, now looking 20 years older (or rather more her age), and Douglas, whom she has since married, return to Africa and ask Tarzan to take them back to the Blue Valley - but he bluntly refuses, not wanting to give away the secret of the valley. However, his wife Jane (Brenda Joyce) thinks she knows the jungle well enough to guide Gloria and Jessup to the valley on her own - and she fails to see through the deception of their companions Trask (Albert Dekker) and Dodd (Charles Drake), who want to uncover the secret of the fountain of youth for their own personal gain (and are of course ruthless as can be).

Janes little expedition soon runs into trouble though, and ultimately Tarzan has to save her and company, and soon enough he softens up and takes Gloria and Jessup to the Blue Valley - leaving the others behind with Jane, who soon try to force her to take them to Blue Valley as well ...

Meanwhile, opposition has formed in Blue Valley, and they want to close the valley to outsiders entirely, which also means Tarzan has to die. He can however overcome opposition and convince the High One (David Bond) to accept both Gloria and Jessup, and even hand him a phial of the fountain's water for his (and Jane's) personal use.

Leaving the Valley, Tarzan runs into Jane and company and soon he gets caught up in a three-way fight between him, the valley's guards and Trask and Dodd, which is ultimately decided when a landslide takes care of the baddies and seals of the valley for good.

And Tarzan's phiol ?

His pet monkey Cheetah drinks up the water and turns into a baby chimp ...

Elmo Lincoln, the first ever film-Tarzan, has a small role in this one as a fisherman who has two comic bouts with Tarzan as played by Lex Barker.

 

The first Tarzan movie starring Lex Barker picks up pretty much where the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzans left off, delivering a silly and clichéd little jungle adventure on a budget - which means not particularly convincing jungle sets, a relative lack of jungle animals (safe from Cheetah), an African jungle full of white natives, and an overemphasis on Cheetah's comic encounters with whatever there is to encounter. Actually a rather tired and unimpressive take on the old jungle-adventure routine.

 

As for Lex Barker as Tarzan: he is no match for Weissmuller in his early films but actually an improvement over the older, chubbier Weissmuller, even if his hairdo looks way too little like that of a jungleman and way too much like the work of an expensive Hollywood hairdresser, and the slippers he wears throughout the film are simply pathetic (they were done away with in later films though).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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

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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
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produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD