Tue 7 Sep 2010
TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS. RKO Radio Pictures, 1947. Johnny Weissmuller, Brenda Joyce, Johnny Sheffield, Patricia Morison, Barton MacLane, John Warburton, Charles Trowbridge. Based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Director: Kurt Neumann.
Based on the pages of TV Guide that I torn out and slipped inside the case, I taped this movie from a local station in September 1991, VHS of course. (I don’t know if DVDs were around then or not, but certainly not do-it-yourself recordable ones.) It’s been stored in the basement ever since, and it still plays fine.
Unfortunately the local station (WTXX in Waterbury) played this late at night and spiced it up every so often with colorful ads for adult services such as 1-900-HOTPINK. Those were the days, my friend.
Johnny Weissmuller made only one more Tarzan movie, Tarzan and the Mermaids, before he morphed into Jungle Jim, but Brenda Joyce (who followed Maureen O’Sullivan) appeared twice more as Jane, appearing in Tarzan’s Magic Fountain with Lex Barker before calling it quits on her movie-making career. And Johnny Sheffield, growing up before the viewers’ eyes, became Bomba, the Jungle Boy soon after this one, in 1949.
As “Boy,” though, he may have been getting taller and filling out more, but in Huntress he wasn’t smart enough to realize that trading two lion cubs to some hunters on safari for a flashlight was an altogether too bone-headed of a stunt for him to stay out of Tarzan’s doghouse for very long,
Of course the members of that same safari, picking up specimens for zoos in the US after the war, aren’t smart nor wise enough to realize that even though they’re not killing animals, crossing Tarzan’s wishes isn’t the smartest thing to do, especially on Tarzan’s home turf.
The “huntress” in this movie is Tanya Rawlins, played by Patricia Morison, a beautiful brunette who’s nominally in charge of the expedition, but she’s too petite to overrule villain Barton MacLane, who plays her guide. In doing his job far too enthusiastically, for example, he finds it necessary to bump off the local native leader who stands in their way.
The movie’s 72 minutes long, but it feels longer, even though there’s only about 30 minutes of actual plot to go with it – which probably goes a long way in explaining why it does feel as long as it does. There’s lots of stock animal footage, lots of neat shots of Tarzan swinging from vine to vine, one scene of synchronized swimming, and far too much monkey business. Way too much. I think Cheetah (the chimpanzee) has more screen time in this movie than any of the other actors.