Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

92 or 105 mins | Adventure | 20 April 1934

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HISTORY

In the opening onscreen cast list, Johnny Weissmuller's name appears last as "and Johnny Weissmuller as 'Tarzan.'" Tarzan and His Mate was the only film for which Cedric Gibbons, the head of M-G-M's art department, received a directing credit. Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan and Neil Hamilton revived the roles they had portrayed in M-G-M's 1932 film Tarzan, the Ape Man. As indicated by trade paper news items, the filming process was extremely long and complicated. (HR proclaimed that the production schedule on Tarzan and His Mate--six months--was the longest in cinematic history.) In mid-Jun 1932, HR announced that former independent producer Bud Barsky was to write the "original yarn" for the as yet untitled Tarzan sequel, and was to be assisted by "M-G-M staffers" R. L. Johnson and Arthur S. Hyman. The exact nature of these writers' contributions to the final film has not been determined. The same item noted that the M-G-M was considering filming the picture in Africa. In late Jul 1932, HR announced that a film crew was being sent to the Lake Rudolph region in Africa, presumably for background shots. It is not known if any African footage was used in the final film.
       A 29 Jun 1933 HR news item announced that W. S. Van Dyke was to be Gibbons' co-director. By 1 Jul 1933, Van Dyke was dropped from the project, and Gibbons was announced as the film's sole director. In Sep 1933, however, HR announced that Jack Conway, an M-G-M contract director, was to take over the direction of one ...

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In the opening onscreen cast list, Johnny Weissmuller's name appears last as "and Johnny Weissmuller as 'Tarzan.'" Tarzan and His Mate was the only film for which Cedric Gibbons, the head of M-G-M's art department, received a directing credit. Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan and Neil Hamilton revived the roles they had portrayed in M-G-M's 1932 film Tarzan, the Ape Man. As indicated by trade paper news items, the filming process was extremely long and complicated. (HR proclaimed that the production schedule on Tarzan and His Mate--six months--was the longest in cinematic history.) In mid-Jun 1932, HR announced that former independent producer Bud Barsky was to write the "original yarn" for the as yet untitled Tarzan sequel, and was to be assisted by "M-G-M staffers" R. L. Johnson and Arthur S. Hyman. The exact nature of these writers' contributions to the final film has not been determined. The same item noted that the M-G-M was considering filming the picture in Africa. In late Jul 1932, HR announced that a film crew was being sent to the Lake Rudolph region in Africa, presumably for background shots. It is not known if any African footage was used in the final film.
       A 29 Jun 1933 HR news item announced that W. S. Van Dyke was to be Gibbons' co-director. By 1 Jul 1933, Van Dyke was dropped from the project, and Gibbons was announced as the film's sole director. In Sep 1933, however, HR announced that Jack Conway, an M-G-M contract director, was to take over the direction of one of Gibbons' units. Modern sources contend that Conway was the true director of the picture. Advertisements for the film credit James McKay with staging the "lion, monkey and hippo" scenes.
       A late Aug 1933 HR news item announced that Rod La Rocque had been pulled from the cast and replaced by Paul Cavanagh because of miscasting. HR production charts list Frank Reicher, Murray Kinnell and Yola D'Avril as cast members. Modern sources note that Reicher and Kinnell were replaced by Desmond Roberts and William Stack, respectively. A viewing of the film supports this contention. It is not known if D'Avril was replaced by Doris Lloyd, or if her part simply was edited from the picture. However, only one actress besides O'Sullivan was seen in the viewed print. Although reviews refer to the role played by Doris Lloyd as "Mrs. Cutten," the copyright cutting continuity lists the character's name as "Mrs. Feronde." (Additional viewing supports the cutting continuity's assertion that the character's name is not "Cutten.") A late Feb 1934 HR production chart credits Sidney Wagner as a co-photographer with Clyde DeVinna. It is not known if Wagner actually worked on the production.
       According to censorship files contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, an underwater swimming sequence in the picture caused much consternation with the Hays Office. On 10 Apr 1934, Joseph I. Breen, director of public relations of the MPPDA, reported to MPPDA President Will H. Hays that Tarzan and His Mate had been rejected because of shots in which "the girl was shown completely in the nude." (Modern sources state that Josephine McKim, an Olympic swimmer, doubled for Maureen O'Sullivan in the sequence, and claim that the scene was inspired by RKO's 1932 tropical film The Bird of Paradise, which featured nude swimming by Dolores Del Rio.) After Breen verbally rejected the film because of the sequence, an AMPP jury composed of B. B. Kahane of RKO, Carl Laemmle, Jr. of Universal and Winfield Sheehan of Fox viewed the picture and agreed with Breen. According to a HR news item, however, it was Sheehan and Jack Warner of Warner Bros. who cast the deciding votes that "eliminated one of the most beautiful scenes" from the picture. Breen described the offending scenes in a memo to Hays: "The man in the shot wore a loin cloth, but a critical examination of the shot indicated that the woman was stark naked. There were four or five shots of the woman, which the jury referred to repeatedly as 'frontal' shots, which showed the front of the woman's body."
       When M-G-M production head Irving G. Thalberg protested the jury's decision by claiming that an earlier M-G-M film, White Shadows of the South Seas, had "fifty naked women" in it, the jurors screened that film and determined that none of the women were naked. By 24 Apr 1934, all prints of Tarzan and His Mate in all territories were ordered changed. Apparently, however, the nude shots were still being shown in some territories that had no censor boards, which was a Code violation. The trailer for the movie contained the nude shots and was ordered changed. In a 28 Jun 1934 memo, Breen noted that a substituted sequence that was being shown in New York should "eliminate all views of girl swimming under water where breasts are unduly exposed."
       Modern sources add the following information about the censorship situation: M-G-M eventually released three different versions of the scene: one in which Jane is fully clothed, one in which only her breasts were exposed and the one in which she is completely naked. When the PCA became aware of the selective censorship, they forced the studio to remove the offending scene from the film's negative. The deleted scene survives only in the studio's master positive print. Prints containing Jane's partial nudity are still shown theatrically, however.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: Because of the success of their 1932 film Tarzan, the Ape Man, M-G-M paid Edgar Rice Burrough's $45,000 for the right to make two sequels in Apr of the same year. During the first half of 1933, the above mentioned writers, C. Gardner Sullivan and various other writers worked on outlines and treatments for the sequel. In Mar 1933, credited writer Leon Gordon collaborated with producer Hyman, Gibbons (acting as art director) and production manager J. J. Cohn about specific scenes, including an elaborate jungle fire sequence that eventually was dropped from the script. Howard Emmett Rogers wrote a dialogue continuity in May 1933, which was then developed into a screenplay by James K. McGuinness. Special effects, overseen by Gibbons and executed by Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe, James Basevi and Irving Reis, were complex and involved such devices as matte paintings, miniatures, split screens, rear projection and soft-edge wipes.
       Although the studio had scrapped plans to film in Africa, several locations around Los Angeles were used, including Sherwood Forest, Lake Sherwood, Whittier, Big Tugunga and China Flats. Bert Nelson and George Emerson, the M-G-M animal trainer, doubled for Weissmuller. Trapeze artists Alfred Codona and the Flying Codonas, who had performed in the first Tarzan film, also doubled for Weissmuller and O'Sullivan, and acted as the elder Cheeta. Dressed in ape suits, The Picchianis performed in the film, and one of the troupe doubled for Weissmuller in a tree jumping sequence. Nelson also doubled for Paul Cavanagh. As with Tarzan, the Ape Man, Indian elephants, taken from M-G-M's zoo, had attachments fixed to their ears and tusks to suggest African elephants. During the crocodile wrestling scene, a mechanical crocodile, equipped with nigrosine dye sacks to simulate blood, was used. Retakes, pick-up shots and additional footage of Tarzan, the lions and Jane, as doubled by Betty Roth, were completed in late Mar 1934. M-G-M had already spent $1,279,142 on the production. In early Apr 1934, after previews, M-G-M cut the film from eleven to nine reels, editing out fourteen-and-a-half minutes. Copyright records list the film's length as eleven reels. Preview running times, as reported in trade journals, vary from general release running times by eleven to twenty-four minutes.
       Modern sources add the following names to the crew: Animal supv George Emerson, Louis Roth and Louis Goebel; Special eff dir James Basevi; Art eff Warren Newcombe; Photog eff Irving Ries; Addl composite eff Dunning Process Company and Williams Composite Laboratories; Operative cam Lester White, Bob Roberts , Ellsworth Fredericks, Ray Ramsey and William Foxall; Sd eff T. B. Hoffman , James Graham and Michael Steinore; Mus by George Richelavie, Fritz Stahlberg, Paul Marquardt and Dr. William Axt. Additional cast from modern sources includes Paul Porcasi (Señor Perron), Everett Brown (Bearer) and Ray Corrigan (Ape). Corrigan is also listed as a stunt man. For information on other films featuring the Tarzan character, consult the Series Index and See Entry for Tarzan, the Ape Man.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Apr 1934
p. 3
Film Daily
16 Apr 1934
p. 8
HF
16 Sep 1933
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1932
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1932
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1933
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1933
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 1933
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1933
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1933
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 1933
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1934
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1934
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1934
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1934
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 1934
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1934
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 1934
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1934
pp. 3-10
Hollywood Reporter
10 Oct 1934
p. 7
Motion Picture Daily
10 Apr 1934
p. 18
Motion Picture Herald
26 Apr 1934
p. 35
New York Times
21 Apr 1934
p. 12
Variety
24 Apr 1934
p. 14
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Co-dir
2nd unit dir
2nd unit dir
2nd unit dir and asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Clyde DeVinna
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Arnold Gillespie
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOUND
Rec dir
Mixer
PRODUCTION MISC
Animal supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"Soldier on the Shelf," words and music by Sherman Myers and Erele Reaves.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
20 April 1934
Production Date:
2 Aug 1933--28 Feb 1934
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
13 April 1934
LP4647
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92 or 105
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

After Englishman Harry Holt joins up with newly arrived Martin Arlington at an African river village, the two men discuss their upcoming safari and Harry's concern about Jane Parker, a former sweetheart who now lives in the jungle with her ape-nurtured husband "Tarzan." As per the instructions of the heartsick Harry, who hopes to lure Jane away from Tarzan, Martin has brought with him the latest fashions from Paris. With a small band of tribesmen, led by the loyal Saidi, Harry and Martin begin their journey into the jungle to find not only Jane, but ivory-rich elephant burial grounds as well. Soon the white men are ambushed by hostile tribesmen, who scare off some of the safari laborers and drive the rest from their sacred ground. After a vicious attack by gorillas on a mountain cliff, Harry and Martin finally meet up with Tarzan and Jane. Although Jane appreciates Harry's elegant clothes, she tells him that she will never leave Tarzan or the jungle. The next morning, after Tarzan kills a lion that threatens Jane, Martin and Harry resume their trek, aided by an elephant that Tarzan has called for them. Soon after, while Tarzan and Jane play in the jungle, a rhinocerous attacks Jane and kills Cheeta, Tarzan's faithful chimpanzee. Tarzan rescues Jane and kills the rhinoceros with his knife, then is called on to fight a leopard and a crocodile, which also succumb to his superior strength. That night, Tarzan learns that Martin and Harry are going to rob the elephant burial grounds of their ivory and refuses to act as their guide. Consequently, Martin, who is ...

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After Englishman Harry Holt joins up with newly arrived Martin Arlington at an African river village, the two men discuss their upcoming safari and Harry's concern about Jane Parker, a former sweetheart who now lives in the jungle with her ape-nurtured husband "Tarzan." As per the instructions of the heartsick Harry, who hopes to lure Jane away from Tarzan, Martin has brought with him the latest fashions from Paris. With a small band of tribesmen, led by the loyal Saidi, Harry and Martin begin their journey into the jungle to find not only Jane, but ivory-rich elephant burial grounds as well. Soon the white men are ambushed by hostile tribesmen, who scare off some of the safari laborers and drive the rest from their sacred ground. After a vicious attack by gorillas on a mountain cliff, Harry and Martin finally meet up with Tarzan and Jane. Although Jane appreciates Harry's elegant clothes, she tells him that she will never leave Tarzan or the jungle. The next morning, after Tarzan kills a lion that threatens Jane, Martin and Harry resume their trek, aided by an elephant that Tarzan has called for them. Soon after, while Tarzan and Jane play in the jungle, a rhinocerous attacks Jane and kills Cheeta, Tarzan's faithful chimpanzee. Tarzan rescues Jane and kills the rhinoceros with his knife, then is called on to fight a leopard and a crocodile, which also succumb to his superior strength. That night, Tarzan learns that Martin and Harry are going to rob the elephant burial grounds of their ivory and refuses to act as their guide. Consequently, Martin, who is aware that elephants instinctively seek the grounds when they are dying, shoots Tarzan's elephant. Although intimidated by Tarzan, Martin and Harry follow the fatally wounded elephant to its ancient burial grounds. Soon after they arrive at the site, however, Tarzan, Jane and a troupe of elephants charge the place and prevent them from leaving with any ivory. To trick Tarzan, Martin promises him that the safari will abandon the ivory and return to camp the next morning. Martin, who also desires Jane, then shoots Tarzan as he is gathering breakfast and leaves him to be devoured by a river crocodile. Tarzan, however, is rescued by a hippopotamus and a gorilla, who carries him into the jungle, where he is nursed by Cheeta's daughter, Little Cheeta, and her chimpanzee group. Jane, meanwhile, learns from Martin that Tarzan is dead and sadly prepares to leave with the ivory-laden safari. As they are departing, however, Little Cheeta finds Jane and communicates to her that Tarzan is alive. Before she can follow Little Cheeta, angry tribesmen attack and surround the safari. During a prolonged battle with the tribesmen and a giant herd of hungry lions, in which both Harry and Martin are killed, Tarzan finally locates Jane and rescues her from sure death.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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