Tarzan's Mate in Peril / Tarzan and the Jungle Queen
Sol Lesser for RKO
directed by Byron Haskin
starring Lex Barker, Virginia Huston, George Macready, Douglas Fowley, Glenn Anders, Alan Napier, Edward Ashley, Dorothy Dandridge, Walter Kingsford, Frederick O'Neal, Wesley Gale, James Moultrie, Buster Cooke, Bruce Lester, Frances Driver, Milton Wood, Joel Fluellen, Stanley Logan, Davis Roberts, Martin Wilkins, Jamel Frazier, Maxie Thrower, William Washington
screenplay by Samuel Newman, Francis Swann, additional dialogue by John Cousins, based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, music by Michel Michelet
Tarzan, Tarzan (Lex Barker), Tarzan at RKO, Sol Lesser's Tarzan
Villain Radijek (George Macready) has just broken out of jail, and now
he's heading back for the jungle, to deliver firearms to an evil jungle
king, Bulam (Fredeerick O'Neal) ... whose most evil deed it seems to be to
long after good and pure jungle queen Melmendi (Dorothy Dandridge), who
constantly spurns his advances. To get his weapons to Bulam, Radijek even
kills two commissioners (Alan Napier, Edward Ashley) and his two
business partners (Douglas Fowley, Glenn Anders) - and of course he
ultimately helps Bulam to kidnap the jungle queen and enslave her tribe.
For the longest time, Tarzan (Lex Barker) tries to stay out of
everything ("This time, Cheetah, Tarzan no interfere."), and
instead he goes fishing with Jane (Virginia Huston), but ultiamtely the
events catch up with him and he frees Queen Melmendi and her tribe almost
singlehandedly. Only Radijek escapes, and he manages to take Jane hostage
- but it wouldn't be Tarzan wouldn't he save his loved one and see to it
that the villain gets his just dessert.
Definitely the best-looking Tarzan-film in quite
some time, and certainly the most accomplished so far of the Lex Barker Tarzans:
The scenery looks much more convincing than in previous films (and
portions of the film are said to actually have been shot in Africa), the
natives are black for a change (in his films with Sol Lesser,
Johnny Weissmuller exclusively dealt with white natives - in Africa),
and quite a few scenes at least seem to depict authentic jungle life.
Aside from being better looking than previous Tarzan films, Tarzan's
Peril has pretty little to offer though: The story is run-of-the-mill
to the point of being uninteresting, Jane, whom Maureen O'Sullivan
portrayed as a free spirit and adventuress in her own right, has turned
into the perfect housewife in Virginia Huston's hands, and Tarzan himself
seems to be in the movie only by accident: He has little to do until very
late in the proceedings (the finale actually) and spends most of the time
of the film telling his chimpanzee that he will not interfere - to a point
that one wonders why he even bothers to tell it anymore ...
What can I say ? Not one of the better films of the series.