The Return of Tarzan – Edgar Rice Burroughs (repost)

The one where the hero fights a crocodile, the damsel takes over the ship at gunpoint, and the cook dies a hero.

Tarzan’s infant son, Jack, is kidnapped by his nemesis, Rokoff the Russian. Rokoff’s plan is to take Jack to the primordial vastnesses of Darkest Africa and give him to the cannibal tribes–not to kill, but to raise as their own in his own twisted evolutionary programme for the Greystoke family. The father an ape–the son a cannibal. Rokoff does even better than he thought he would, because with baby Jack as bait, he manages to capture both Tarzan and Jane (separately). Tarzan he maroons on an uninhabited island, Jane he keeps–for himself.

But! The uninhabited island is home to a tribe of Mangani, of whom Tarzan soon becomes leader and escapes to the mainland. But! Jane gains the sympathy and help of the cook and escapes to the mainland….But a variety of twists and turns (and crocodiles) keep them from actually finding each other until the very last chapter.

(Burroughs was an expert at maddeningly delaying reader gratification with headlong coincidences, random twists, and crocodiles.)

Will Tarzan go down beneath the clubs and spears of the frenzied cannibal horde? Will he live to save his child and his wife? Will Jane escape the clutches of Rokoff and reach safety with her baby? Will Rokoff live to twirl his moustache another day?

You already know the answer…

Who Would Win?

Ashok Vadal vs Harry Dresden.
Yikes, I have no idea what would happen here, except that Harry is going to run his mouth and Ashok is going to be suspicious and grumpy. Thing is, I can’t see these guys continuing to fight after they’ve both figured out they’re on the side of the Good Guys. In my version of things, most of these Who Would Win matches end with both parties having a drink and swapping yarns somewhere.
Thera and Murphy…mind you, I’m pretty sure they’d actually get along excellently, but if it’s a matter of either of them seeing their boys in trouble, they’d definitely wade right in. Normally I’d say that Murphy has the definite physical combat advantage (multiple black belts and all, y’know), but if it’s post-Skin Game Murphy with a bad leg, and if Thera (can’t throw a knife worth a damn because her hands are messed up), the odds would even out a little bit more. Hey, maybe the boys aren’t going to fight at all, maybe they’re just busy dragging their ladies apart…

Harry Dresden vs John Carter, Lord Greystoke.
Are you kidding me? There isn’t going to be a fight. Harry is going to be fanboying so hard he gets caught off guard by the Pelluciderean Neanderthal ninjas under command of the vengeful Therns of Barsoom allied with the insane Russian and a bundle of hired thugs from the south side who tried to jump him earlier and are now aiming to kidnap the womenfolk, and then has to pitch in to help afterwards. Murphy gets kidnapped on account of being a blonde female in the company of the heroes and thus obviously a damsel.
Murphy has strong opinions about this.

John Carter, Lord Greystoke vs Conan of Cimmeria
Like I said, this is only ever going to end with them having a drink somewhere quiet. Maybe in a tavern somewhere, but more probably out of a wineskin and to the accompaniment of a haunch of fresh-killed venison hot off the smoky coals, or whatever.

Ashok Vadal vs Benedict of Amber
Oh, wow. If it did come to a fight, Benedict is going to win hands-down, and the most Ashok is going to do is make him raise a sweat. But realistically, Ashok lucked out in this one, because it’s quite obvious Benedict isn’t there for a fight. Benedict has come back, after an unavoidably long hiatus–perhaps he was imprisoned in Chaos; perhaps he was guarding another relation and could not leave; perhaps an enemy interfered with the flow of time–
–to see to his children’s wellfare.
Ramrowan is obviously Benedict, or at least a Shadow of Benedict.–the greatest strategist or tactician or combatant who ever lived in the multiverse, but who also realizes the horror of war and the worth of a human life. He’d have some answers for Ashok, and he’d give them straight.

Solomon Kane vs Corwin of Amber
Solomon Kane, the solemn, fanatical Puritan avenger, has been on the trail of an evil man like a starving wolf follows the scent of blood. From one end of the world to the other he has been at his heels, and yet somehow stumbles into an ambush anyway.
(This always happens).
Corwin of Amber pauses in his hellride when he sees a half-familiar form in a desperate fight, one man against many, cut and tattered and blooded with many wounds. He turns aside in his journey through Shadow and goes to help, even though this is but the Shadow of the man he once knew, back in the days before the court of the Sun King fell.
Kane recounts his tale of woe and vengeance and his godly mission. Corwin rides with him to see it done and fights with him, one last time.
Kane invites the stranger to stay and ride with him a while, but Corwin demurs. He has a brother to murder and a multiverse to conquer, and, with a courteous salute and a reckless laugh, spurs his horse. And yet the words his once-companion calls after him ring on the wind, strangely to his ears: “What profitteth it a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

Disappointing Watchlist

Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle
Scene: comely young nurse goes swimming, in the buff. Cheeta has stolen her clothes and towel. Tarzan walks up, all Tarzany and also incredibly buff.

Girl: “…. …. ….HELP.”
Tarzan: “GIRL IN TROUBLE?”
Girl: “Big trouble!”
Tarzan: “I help!”
Girl: “NO!”

Heh.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie fails to achieve its full potential moronic charm.

So there’s an evil group of poachers who have a contract for one million billion tons of antelope skins, rhino horns, chimpanzee brains, tiger testicles, and baby elephant oil. (Oil made from baby elephants, that is. Not the All-Natural 100% Organic African Black Sap  Jungle Trunk and Tail Oil mama elephants apply to their babies [THIS ITEM AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT YOUR LOCAL WEALTHFOODSTORE. FULFILMENT VIA AMAZON. TWO-DAY SHIPPING MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE IN YOUR REGION. SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE REDNESS, ITCHING, VOODOO DEATH, OR HAIR LOSS. DISCONTINUE PRODUCT USE AND INFORM YOUR LOCAL WITCHDOCTOR IF SIDE EFFECTS OCCUR]). And they’re way behind schedule in getting them! Oh noes! And then a UN doctor who naturally also isn’t very smart, agrees to take the poacher gang with him (masquerading as photographers) into the untouched/sacred territory across the river. Oh noes! He must be warned!
(Tarzan, meanwhile, is busy with the very important business of fetching some important jungle medicine mud for a sick man). So off goes Nurse Jill, and promptly wrecks her UN-issue car. DUH LADY. It’s probably not even 4WD. (Nurse Missie Jill is also incredibly inept, although I will concede that being chased into quicksand by a giant python could happen to anyone). Anyhow, once rescued, she needs to be taken along because there isn’t enough time to take her back and warn Doc. So off they go.
(The tribal chief’s girlfriend/wife has quite the fetching off-the-shoulder ensemble with a bold and ultramodern zebra pattern bodice. v. chic, I must say.) And at about that point I got bored, so I’m not entirely sure how Doc and Missie Miss get thrown into the lion pit (oh noes!), but suffice it to say that Tarzan saves the day…..by grabbing a spear and jumping into the pit, too. And then…yelling at the lions to go away. Sooooo….Numa speaks Swahili?

So, yes, I would have a problem with this movie even if it wasn’t called “Tarzan.” It does not have an actual Tarzan–Lord Greystoke, John Clayton, the Mighty, Killer of Apes and Men, Lord of the Jungle–in it. It’s got a monosyllabic guy in a loincloth who is way overattached to baby elephants and chimpanzees and can occasionally manage to manhandle a couple of overweight shikaris or African “boys”. That’s to be expected. Even the very best Tarzan movies (Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, Tarzan the Magnificent, don’t really have Edgar Rice Burroughs’ characters in them. Don’t get me started on the modern ones. Just…don’t.)

But why on Earth would I have a problem with something meant to be simple, mindless entertainment? Well, because the best mindless entertainment is simple, but not dumb. There should be actual characters; there should be motives. There should be plot; there should be complications, there should be setbacks, and there should be victories. Also, there should be action. You don’t have to have romance (Cheeta gets more action than Tarzan does, post-quicksand synchronized swimming routines aside)–but you ought to have chemistry. There are a surprising number of zero-budget B-movie flicks which manage beyond all odds to have charm. (Duel of the Titans/Romulus et Remus, Sword of the Conqueror, Princess of the Nile, A Queen for Caesar…)
This movie is a) just dumb, b) really cheap.
And that’s okay.
….but it’s not great.

Rated: I was more amused by my own baby elephant oil joke than any other part of the movie.

Heart: a History – Sandeep Jauhar
(copied from my class notes)
– SO MANY DOGS! They’d never get away with that today! Is that a bad thing or a good thing? They made so many discoveries, but zero oversight. I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m for live animals not being experimented on if we can help it. But I’m also for people not dying. I dunno!
– Progress is made by the interested and motivated and slightly insane person who is in the right place, at the right time.
– Best course of action is to give people medicine and make their parts work properly. Even with pacemakers, defibrilator implants, continuous-flow hearts, the best thing sometimes is to just try to make people work properly.
– Continuously upgrading my cyborg body therefore isn’t an option, alas… (Alita: Battle Angel is unrealistic.)
– STUPID PEN WON’T WRITE
– So, I kinda default to literary criticism when I’m reading something that has an anecdotal component. Author wanted to work through his feelings about his family; he was trying to put everything into some sort of perspective after his mother died, and how some of his patients with defibrillators or pacemakers were praying that they would go quickly; while his mother died not of heart disease….very slowly and horribly. That’s legit. C. S. Lewis wrote an entire book as he was working through his feelings about his wife dying. This guy isn’t C.S. Lewis, but he does have things to say and think about.
– Problem: Author wanted to also write an entertaining and accessible book about the history of cardiac medicine.
– Author potentially wanted both parts of the book to pull together and form some kind of emotional and educational masterpiece, whereby people would be touched, edified, uplifted. Problem: he is nowhere near good enough to pull it off.

Rated: what do you mean, I only get ten points extra credit for this?

Tarzan Tuesday

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Lex Barker had an interesting life off-screen too:

Enlisting in the US Army and rising to the rank of Major during WW2, and being wounded in action in Sicily,

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Acting in a wide range of genres, from film noir to thrillers to comedy and Westerns–to especial popularity in German-language Westerns, wow.

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Marrying five times, including once to Lana Turner.

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Barker lived fast, died at the age of 54, and hopefully left a good-looking corpse behind.

 

Tarzan Tuesday

The one where the hero fights a crocodile, the damsel takes over the ship at gunpoint, and the cook dies a hero:

Tarzan’s infant son, Jack, is kidnapped by his nemesis, Rokoff the Russian. Rokoff’s plan is to take Jack to the primordial vastnesses of Darkest Africa and give him to the cannibal tribes–not to kill, but to raise as their own in his own twisted evolutionary programme for the Greystoke family. The father an ape–the son a cannibal. Rokoff does even better than he thought he would, because with baby Jack as bait, he manages to capture both Tarzan and Jane (separately). Tarzan he maroons on an uninhabited island, Jane he keeps–for himself.

But the uninhabited island is home to a tribe of Mangani, of whom Tarzan soon becomes leader and escapes to the mainland; Jane gains the sympathy and help of the cook, and escapes to the mainland, and a variety of twists and turns (and crocodiles) keep them from actually finding each other until the very last chapter. (Burroughs was an expert at maddeningly delaying reader gratification with headlong coincidences, random twists, and sudden crocodiles.)

Will Tarzan go down beneath the clubs and spears of the frenzied cannibal horde? Will he live to save his child and his wife? Will Jane escape the clutches of Rokoff and reach safety with her baby? Will Rokoff live to twirl his moustache another day?

You already know the answer…