Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Review: Tarzan the Magnificent

Something a little different. Due to work travel and holidays, I'm actually only home six nights total between now and Christmas, meaning any content I need uploaded before then has to be done now. I didn't want to go dark, but watching a bunch of new stuff isn't really possible. Instead, I decided to look for reviews of things that I've already watched and liked.

A very magnificent Tarzan.

Tarzan has been one of my more popular subjects, but I also know that a lot of younger guys don't necessarily get the jungle man's appeal. He hasn't remained relevant as a character for a variety of reasons, but there hasn't been a great Tarzan movie or TV show in a really long time. There have been great looking Tarzans and sexy scenes, but that's a different point. I'm talking about actual movies or shows with a plot and acting and such.

I'd love to see something amazing launched, but odds of that happening are slim. And so, we're left with memories and the occasional treasure. When I was a kid, the NBC station from Buffalo used to air old Tarzan and Bomba movies on weekends. I saw a lot of them, but it was Gordon Scott, Mike Henry and Johnny Sheffield that stuck with me.

That $5,000 will help the family of Coy's latest victim.

Things are never that easy - the Bantons are close
and that's quicksand they're in.

If he wants the reward, Tarzan needs to save Coy,
even as he risks exhausting his own strength ...

Tarzan the Magnificent is one of my favorite Tarzan movies. It's exciting with multiple fight scenes and a lot of tension. It's a chase movie with constant challenges and obstacles to keep it moving. It's filmed in a jungle and uses the scenery - quicksand, river, waterfall, etc. - which helps with authenticity.

The plot involves Tarzan (Gordon Scott) capturing Coy Banton (Jock Mahoney), the ringleader of a criminal family. The jungle man wants to take him to the authorities, but they're closely pursued by the Banton gang. Tarzan's cause is pure - there's a $5,000 reward, which he plans to give to the family of one of their victims. That also means he can't just kill Coy. Along the way, it's cat-and-mouse, eventually saddling Tarzan with five more people to lead through the jungle, slowing them down and giving the charming Coy a chance to use them to make his escape.

Having the gang in hot pursuit forces bad decisions in a believable way, like cutting through danger to save time, but at the risk of their lives. It also allows for multiple fights and deaths before the main event - Tarzan vs. Coy. The final fight is intense and exhausting, with both men getting the advantage. Coy's villainy makes him more than a match for Tarzan's muscles.

Coy runs out of bullets, so he gets noble, tossing his
rifle and challenging Tarzan to face him man-to-man.

The bow, arrows and knife go as Tarzan
can't refuse the challenge.

The chase is on and Coy is one step ahead as usual.

Tarzan's still the strongest man in the jungle.

I love Gordon Scott as a smart and articulate Tarzan. For me, this is his best performances because he's a true hero throughout - brave, strong and noble - even as he faces evil and stupidity from multiple directions. The jungle man is a mighty force who you could see surviving in the jungle. Plus, he's handsome and the incredible proportions of his barrel chest and narrow waist simply defy logic.

Coy is an amazing villain - physically powerful, ruggedly handsome, charmingly conniving and unrepentantly cruel. He's completely evil. As a master of manipulation, he dupes multiple characters, including Tarzan himself, to escape. Jock Mahoney would actually go on to play Tarzan, but unfortunately he got sick on set in India and looked physically frail.

These two just keep fighting.

Tarzan's never faced anyone like Coy before.

Tarzan should realize that when Coy is down,
he's actually at his most dangerous.

Get up, Tarzan! It can't end like this!

In the end, I think this represents the best Tarzan adventure. I acknowledge my nostalgic attachment to it, but I'd argue it holds up even now.

Where can you see more?

There used to be a part 2 with the final fight, but I can't find it.
It must have been deleted.

So that's my take. What's yours?



  1. 100% agree. The film is always moving, has an intelligent Tarzan, great villain and a fantastic end fight. A 'Magnificent' film.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Love your two-sentence review. You summed it up perfectly!