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Tarzan the Fearless

USA 1933
produced by
Sol Lesser for Principal Pictures
directed by Robert F. Hill
starring Buster Crabbe (= Larry Crabbe), Jacqueline Wells (= Julie Bishop), Edward Woods, E.Allyn Warren, Philo McCullough, Mathew Betz, Frank Lackteen, Mischa Auer, Carlotta Monti, Symonia Boniface, Philip Sleeman, Ivory Williams, Everett Brown, Darby Jones, Al Kikume, George DeNormand
screenplay by Basil Dickey, George H. Plympton, Ford L. Beebe, based on a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs, music by Sam K. Wineland, musical supervision by Abe Meyer

serial
Tarzan, Sol Lesser's Tarzan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The synopsis below is not based on viewing the serial as a whole, but rather the 75-minutes film cobbled together from the serial in the late 1950's, which unfortunately seems to be the only version of the serial in existence today. But there is still hope that the serial as a whole will resurface one of these days ...

 

... searching for her father Dr Brooks (E.Allyn Waren), Mary (Jacqueline Wells) and her fiancé Bob (Edward Woods) have embarked on an expedition to the African jungle. What they don't know though is that their guides Nick (Matthew Betz) & Jeff (Philo McCullough) are a couple of crooks who are after the emeralds her father is said to have found, and after the 10.000 Pounds promised to the one who can give conclusive proof of Tarzan's (Buster Crabbe) death.

But Tarzan of course is everything but dead, & soon he finds himself a new pastime saving Mary, first from a crocodile, then the crooked guides, white slavers, natives, you name it ...

Before long, Nick tries to pull a fast one even on his partner in crime Jeff, but is killed by a lion as a form of divine justice.

Eventually, Mary, Bob & Jeff find a map to the kingdom of Zar, where Brooks is believed to be held ... but soon enough they are captured by the natives of Zar nad prepared to be fed to the lions ... only Tarzan can save them now - again -, & of course he does. But Jeff makes the fatal mistake to steal an emerald - the biggest in the world he claims - from the idol of Zar, which makes the High Priest (Mischa Auer) & Priestess (Carlotta Monti) rather angry, & soon they order all white men in the jungle to be captured - but what's worse, Tarzan has fallen into some animal trap, is almost killed by a lion, & is therefore unable to help his friends when they are recaptured by the Zarians. & after he has found the emerald on Jeff, the High Priest prepares to kill him, Mary, Bob and Doc Brooks, & only Bob is clever enough to buy them all free in exchange for a map leading to Zar ...

Once free again, it's time for the final battle between Jeff & Tarzan - who has since been saved from his animal trap by his friends the elephant & the chimpanzee. Of course, Tarzan wins, & Jeff is accidently shot by his own pistol. But he has still breath enough to show remorse for his past sins.

 


To pass any kind of judgement on this serial after only seeing the feature version is next to impossible. Reports on the serial as a whole show the omittance of quite some (supposedly) impressive scenes as well as the toning down of the more erotically charged elements of the serial in person of the High Priestess (who is only seen twice briefly in the feature, while in the serial she herself once comments on her curvey, scantily clad figure "A woman is never unarmed").

What can be said though is that Buster Crabbe (like Johnny Weissmuller a professional swimmer before his acting career) makes a convincing Tarzan, even if his leotard briefs are ridiculously, well, brief, however apart from him, Tarzan the Fearless does not stand comparison with MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man from the previous year, the film the serial was made to cash in on. Due to budgetary reasons, the serial just did not have the gloss of the MGM-picture, but at least in parts that's made up by typical serial-inventiveness: In an interview, Buster Crabbe commented on the fact that the serial could only afford one lion, which was toothless - which allowed of course for some impressive & violent man-vs-lion fights you just couldn't have with a dentally equipped lion. Another thing is the Zarian costumes, sets & props, which added some exotic value to the production (which never once left California for its African jungle sets), all of which were leftovers from Cecil B.DeMille productions from the silent era.

In all, even the feature version is not bad, & while it will probably not be able to compete on a quality level with Tarzan the Ape Man, should the serial in its entirity ever vome out, it's definitely worth a look.

 

Producer Sol Lesser by the way seems to have been obsessed with bringing Tarzan to the screen, he made another rival Tarzan to MGM in 1938, Tarzan's Revenge starring Glenn Morris, before taking over reigns of the Weissmuller-Tarzan-series when it moved from MGM to RKO.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
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written by
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produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

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