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Another group of hunters, led by Buck Rand (Charles Bickford) have
entered Tarzan's (Johnny Weissmuller) jungle in an airplane to hunt for
animals for a circus - much to his dismay, so he gives them an ultimatum
to leave ... but it might already be too late, because the aiplane has
caught the eye and imagination of Tarzan's son Boy (Johnny Sheffield), who
soon befriends Buck and his men and shows them his skills as animal
trainer - which is why Rand soon takes an interest in him.
Then though a tribe of natives attack the airplane, and when Tarzan and
Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) are coming to the rescue, the natives manage to
cut one of the vines they are travelling on and hurl them down some cliffs
... to their deaths presumably, but to make sure, they also set this neck
of the wood on fire ...
Rand and company make an escape meanwhile, and they take Boy with them
... to save at least him, as Rand claims ...
Of course, Tarzan and Jane aren't really dead, they are saved by their
chimp Cheetah, and soon decide to go after Boy to get him back ... even if
they have to go to New York (and even if Tarzan has to wear suit and tie)
In New York, Tarzan, Jane and Cheetah, with the help of Rand's
well-meaning pilot Shields (Paul Kelly) and his nightclub singer
girlfriend (Virginia Grey) soon manage to track boy down to a circus owned
by Rand and Colonel Sargent (Cy Kendall) - but while in civilisation, Jane
wants to do it the civilized way, so they drag Rand and Sargent to court.
For a while, the trial over custody of the child even seems to go well,
until Rand's lawyer (Charles Lane) finds out that Tarzan and Jane aren't
Boy's real parents (see Tarzan
finds a Son), which seems to turn the case in Rand's favour ...
which is when Tarzan starts showing his savage streak ... so much so that
he is arrested in court himself, but makes good an escape over the roofs
of New York and over (and I mean over) Brooklyn Bridge, to in the end free
Boy the only way he knows how (and the way he did in all previous films):
Using elephants ...
The first two Johnny Weissmuller-Tarzans (Tarzan,
the Ape Man and Tarzan
and his Mate) were great jungle adventure films, but after them,
the formula has quickly become stale and the films had a certain loveless
look to it, so for this one, the sixth installment, it was decided to
inject new blood into the series and let Weissmuller/Tarzan do his shtick
in New York, to somewhat amusing results - and wouldn't you know it, the
idea actually works: Tarzan's New York Adventure is a self-ironic
take on the series mainstays (including the usual elephant attack at the
finale) that also includes many of Tarzan's jungle stunts transferred into
the big city, and a bit of courtroom drama. The only real annoying scenes
are the endless comical interludes of chimp Cheetah which every now and
again interrupt the story, while not being really funny. On the other hand
a short scene featuring black comedian Mantan Moreland does demonstrate
how to make the most of a scene that does not even look funny on paper.
Tarzan's New York Adventure by the way was the last Tarzan
Film produced by MGM. Maureen O'Sullivan left the series after
this one, but Weissmuller and Sheffield moved over to RKO
to make some more Tarzans, with the next film being 1943's Tarzan
Triumphs (no Jane in this one though or in Tarzan's
Desert Mystery). In 1945 (Tarzan and the Amazons), Brenda Joyce
joined the series as the new Jane.