Scott Tracy Griffin
224pp -full colour illustrations and photographs
In this authoritative volume, writer and historian Scott Tracy Griffin traces the development of the history-making Tarzan franchise, from the motion-picture industry’s early silents and serials, through the high point of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer era featuring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan, to modern worldwide hits like Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Walt Disney Studios’ animated Tarzan.
Well, you expect the usual over the top publicity for books like this but Titan Books have kept it very low key. This book was available from last Friday so you can order via Titan or online.
To the book. I had a bad day yesterday so at around Midnight I sat down to read through this. Tarzan comics I know about. Movies I'm so-so but this book was an education. Elmo Lincoln as the silent movie Tarzan I knew about. Gene Pollar I never heard of -but when I saw the still photos I suddenly realised his image had been used a lot by some artists. And Jim Pierce strikes a good pose as a short haired Tarzan. In fact, as you might expect, this book gives background detail on all the actors who have played Tarzan in the movies and on TV -of course, Ron Ely was the Tarzan of the 1960s generation and I never realised how tough he was until reading this!
But there is more because Griffin not only looks at the boy side-kicks of Tarzan but also the female players: every Jane from silents to the current movie. Of course, the other glam female stars are also mentioned as are the villains which include Anthony Quayle and Sean Connery.
Of course, Maureen O'Sullivan was my favourite and I can remember the silence when the BBC showed Tarzan and his Mate at 7.30pm which included her famous nude swimming scene! O'Sullivan was also treed on one occasion by six lions that were released for exercise during a lunch break and on another occasion one was shot as it "menaced" her. It is this aspect of the Tarzan movies that pull me away from them -as in the comics lions and other animals were all a threat that a knife or spear could "take care of".
But if you want as complete a history as it is possible to get then this book is definitely for you. With TV it isn't only Ely. Remember Joe Lara in Tarzan In Manhattan (1989) or even Wolf Larson as Tarzan in the 1991-1994 TV series aimed at kids (I think I stood 2 episodes and that was it). But there is much more you can learn about here.
The Lou Sheimer Tarzan Lord of the Jungle TV series of 1976-1985 is covered and, no, I never realised it lasted that long though I did enjoy it.
The various Disney versions are included and I have to say I would not watch them. I think they are awful but no doubt I'm in the minority!
Really, this should be titled "Encyclopedia Tarzana"!
The posters reproduced within the book are lovely and if you were looking for a wall poster then here's your source (not to tear out, obviously) and there are some really nice ones. As for the photographs they are all reproduced in excellent quality and there are stills I have never seen before and when I checked the internet quickly I couldn't find them so this is going to be the Tarzan photo source book as far as I can see.
Marks out of 10? Well,it's my blog so I'll award it 11!
Very highly recommended.