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Title: Johnny Weissmuller IS Jungle Jim
Description: 16 films in 7 years

Marty McKee - April 16, 2006 05:58 AM (GMT)
Several years ago, I recorded 12 of Columbia's JUNGLE JIM series that ran from 1948 to 1955 (in the last three films, Columbia dropped the licensing, and Weissmuller played "Johnny Weissmuller," but we know he was really Jungle Jim). I'm transferring those SLP recordings to DVD-R, and I'm hoping to watch them all in the process (I never did). This thread will contain my thoughts on the JUNGLE JIM series. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts, especially on the four movies I don't have.

JUNGLE JIM (1948)--Direceted by William Berke. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Virginia Grey, George Reeves. When Olympic gold medalist Weissmuller quit playing Tarzan at RKO, he jumped over to Columbia and joined producer Sam Katzman for a series of B-pictures based upon King Features’ comic strip character Jungle Jim, who was created by FLASH GORDON‘s Alex Raymond. The difference between the two characters was that Jim wore more clothes and spoke better English (although Weissmuller’s acting didn’t get any better). Other than that, the sets, plots and stock footage were pretty much the same. In the first of 16 Jungle Jim features over seven years, Jim guides a prim scientist (Grey) through the jungle on a search for a lost temple that houses a rare exotic poison that, used properly, is also a polio vaccine. Future Superman Reeves steals the picture as Edwards, a greedy photographer who fools the natives into accepting him as a god after taking their picture (!) and kills many of them while stealing their treasure. The screenplay by Carroll Young, who wrote many Jungle Jim, Tarzan and Bomba B-pics, hasn’t enough story to fill 72 minutes, so director Berke turns to lengthy comic hijinks between a cute puppy and a cute crow (named Caw-Caw). The menaces are standard jungle boo-hooey, as Jim fights a leopard, a lion, an avalanche, some sort of sea monster, an elephant stampede and an army of pissed-off natives. The climax is generally rousing, and is probably as good an action setpiece as the Jungle Jim series ever produced. Lita Baron, Rory Calhoun’s Spanish wife, contributes a sexy dance, and Holmes Herbert and Rick Vallin help provide support. In addition to the 16 films, Weissmuller also did 26 episodes of a JUNGLE JIM TV series.

Brian Camp - April 16, 2006 01:14 PM (GMT)
You mention Flash Gordon so it should be pointed out that Buster Crabbe, Flash Gordon himself, turns up in the 3rd Jungle Jim movie, CAPTIVE GIRL (1950). Crabbe, who was, like Weissmuller, an Olympic swimming champ, had also played Tarzan (TARZAN THE FEARLESS, 1933). Interestingly, the only time Weissmuller appeared in a film as a character other than Tarzan, Jungle Jim or himself, was in a low-budget potboiler called SWAMP FIRE (1946), in which Crabbe also appeared. Weissmuller was the hero and Crabbe the accented, mustachio'd villain in a story set in Cajun country in Louisiana, something about a land grab. It's not very good, but it's worth seeing simply to see Weissmuller and Crabbe do something totally different from the norm for them. It was produced by the legendary Pine-Thomas Productions (William H. Pine and William C. Thomas, collectively known as the "Dollar Bills" for their ability to squeeze the most production value out of a dollar).

I used to see the Jungle Jim movies on TV as a child, but they didn't show them for very long. At a certain point when I was still very young, they basically disappeared from the airwaves. Decades later I picked up a low-cost GoodTimes Video edition of the first Jungle Jim movie and watched it, but it didn't inspire me to seek out the others. The Bomba the Jungle Boy movies hold up much better.

I'm looking over the Jungle Jim chapter in James Robert Parish's "The Great Movie Series" and checking out the cast lists. There weren't many black actors featured in the Jungle Jim movies, but Bernie Hamilton (Captain Dobie on "Starsky and Hutch") turns up in JUNGLE MAN-EATERS (1954). There's even a still of him in loincloth and headband in the book.

Interesting that both Superman (Reeves) and Flash Gordon (Crabbe) should pop up in a series with Tarzan (Weissmuller). To further the Superman connection, Lyle Talbot (Lex Luthor in the ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN serial) pops up in the sixth Jungle Jim movie, FURY OF THE CONGO, while Nelson Leigh, who played Jor-el in the first Superman serial, appears in supporting roles in four Jungle Jim films.

Any chance we'll ever see today's "superheroes"--Toby Maguire, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Eric Bana, Hugh Jackman, Brandon Routh, Christian Bale, etc.--turning up in each other's TV series or straight-to-video action movies?

Tim Lucas - April 16, 2006 05:02 PM (GMT)
CAPTIVE GIRL introduces the title character with a shot of this jungle girl standing atop a waterfall. The actress must have quit before she filmed all her footage, so this shot is reused incessantly... and, at one point, the editor gets so fed up with it, he decided to do something inventive and ran the footage backwards. It's okay as far as the girl is concerned, but the water is suddenly rolling UP the falls!

JUNGLE MANHUNT is celebrated for introducing dinosaurs to the Jungle Jim universe, JUNGLE MOON-MEN offers the spectacle of diminutive Billy Curtis in black-face and wearing a ridiculous getup while swinging Tarzan-style on a vine, and JUNGLE JIM IN THE FORBIDDEN LAND features a race of wolf-people. The series was cheap from the get-go, recycling the same cave set in the first three pictures, as I recall. In one of the movies, future CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON plays a jungle native who gets killed... twice.

The Jungle Jim series can be pretty lame, but it can also be a lot of fun. Sometimes even for the right reasons.

Marty McKee - April 18, 2006 12:33 AM (GMT)
THE LOST TRIBE (1949)--Directed by William Berke. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Elena Verdugo, Joseph Vitale, Ralph Dunn. Weissmuller’s second turn as Jungle Jim for Columbia Pictures and producer Sam Katzman is pretty good and maybe more entertaining than the previous year’s JUNGLE JIM. “Good” in a matter of speaking, of course. In Jim’s parallel universe, anyone can walk anyplace in the jungle in just a few hours and without any food or drink or getting tired. In fact, it’s an easy walk from a bustling oceanside city to a fabled lost city hidden on the other side of a mountain.

Jim (“Just Jim,” Weissmuller introduces himself) tries to help when crook Calhoun (Vitale) and sailor Rawlins (Dunn) trick an innocent young man into leading them to his home in the secret city of Dzaam, so they can steal all of its treasure. The city elder thinks that if they offer the hoods a few diamonds, they’ll be left alone in exchange. No dice, Rawlins says (in a scene that marks Jungle Jim as the world’s lamest negotiator), and he kidnaps Jim and the elder’s beautiful daughter Li Wanna (Verdugo) to force them to spill the beans. Jim takes a couple of rough beatings from the human villains, but has little problems with wildlife, as he successfully fights two sharks, a lion and a crocodile (didn’t Weissmuller ever get tired of fighting those rubber animals?). For a hero, he does little that is heroic and mainly waits for his dog, a crow and a bunch of angry apes to bail him out of trouble.

Director Berke spent a couple of days shooting beach scenes on a practical location, which is a nice change of pace, and the Columbia special effects department prepared some very effective matte paintings, giving the film a more spacious look. Of course, Dzaam’s temple is the same set as the temple used in the climax of JUNGLE JIM, so Katzman wasn’t exactly tossing money around. Also with Myrna Dell, George J. Lewis, Nelson Leigh, Gil Perkins and more Holmes Herbert narration from JUNGLE JIM.

Tim Lucas - April 18, 2006 02:44 AM (GMT)
I'll be interested to see your final thoughts, Marty, but for me, THE LOST TRIBE was as good as the Jungle Jims got.

Marty McKee - April 19, 2006 03:47 AM (GMT)
MARK OF THE GORILLA (1950)--Directed by William Berke. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Trudy Marshall, Onslow Stevens, Suzanne Dalbert. The third Jungle Jim picture opens with five minutes of wildlife stock footage while a portentous narrator (Holmes Herbert) babbles on about survival of the fittest yada yada. Then we cut to five minutes of Jungle Jim (Weissmuller) fishing. The plot kicks in ten minutes after that. MARK OF THE GORILLA runs 68 minutes. Jim is summoned to a game preserve where his friend the warden lies dying from fever. Gorillas are stalking and killing the natives, including the messenger who summoned Jim. The strange thing is that 1) there are no gorillas in this area of the jungle and 2) when Jim flings a knife into one of them, it screams like a human. Later, when Jim chases one, it stops to release a leopard from its cage. “Pretty smart for a gorilla,” says the slow-witted Jim. Of course, the gorillas are actually thieves wearing gorilla suits, who are scaring away the natives so they can steal some Nazi treasure buried in a nearby mine. The warden learned of their plan and that his doctor, Brandt (Stevens), was the ringleader, so Brandt had him killed. I’d like to see somebody try to remake this plot. Jim gets beaten up again and fights another stuffed leopard, as well as a sea snake. Director Berke, making his third Jungle Jim movie, keeps the action moving along pretty well once he gets past the first ten minutes of padding. Also with Selmer Jackson and Robert Purcell. Sources clash as to whether MARK OF THE GORILLA came before or after CAPTIVE GIRL, but the Internet Movie Database lists a January 1950 playdate for MARK and an April premiere for CAPTIVE GIRL.

Marty McKee - April 22, 2006 08:14 PM (GMT)
CAPTIVE GIRL (1950)--Directed by William Berke. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Anita Lloest, John Dehner. Producer Sam Katzman’s fourth Jungle Jim programmer is less exciting and less hilarious than its predecessors, but it does have the advantage of former Tarzan Crabbe as a supporting actor. Director Berke and scripter Carroll Young fail to use Crabbe to good advantage, however, squandering him in a role as a minor heavy. Wouldn’t it be something to have he and Weissmuller squaring off against each other as true adversaries or, conversely, teaming them up as an action duo? Jim (Weissmuller) goes into the jungle to find a “white goddess” who has been targeted for death by evil native witch doctor Hakim (Dehner). The statuesque blonde in a leopard-skin bikini is actually Joan Martindale (swimmer Lloest in her one and only feature film), who was a little girl when she witnessed Hakim’s murder of her parents and has lived alone in the jungle ever since. Crabbe is secondary to the main plot as Barton, a treasure hunter diving for the jewels that the Martindales took with them to their graves at the bottom of the “lagoon of death.” Berke really breaks out the stock footage for this one, the first real disappointment of the Jungle Jim series. He shot it in about a week, which shows in its lack of action and its reused footage, including a backwards shot of Lloest standing atop a ridge that shows a nearby waterfall flowing upwards! Crabbe and Weissmuller also acted together in 1946’s SWAMP FIRE. Also with Rick Vallin (who did three Jungle Jim movies), Rusty Wescoatt and Nelson Leigh.

Marty McKee - May 6, 2006 10:19 PM (GMT)
SWAMP FIRE (1946)--Directed by William H. Pine. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Virginia Grey, Pierre Watkin. When Paramount Pictures first premiered SWAMP FIRE in 1946, it must have made quite a splash on the B-movie circuit, as it represented the first on-screen meeting between Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe. The early careers of both men read like bookends. Both were U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning swimmers, and both broke into Hollywood stardom by portraying Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan. Weissmuller was the better athlete, winning Olympic gold five times in 1924 and 1928. Crabbe, who captured the 400-meter freestyle gold medal in 1932, was the better actor.

Both Crabbe and Weissmuller were revered by audiences who grew up with their adventure films. Weissmuller made a striking film debut in 1932’s TARZAN THE APE MAN opposite the enchanting Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane and played the King of the Jungle twelve times in all. However, by 1946, the Tarzan series were no longer moderately budgeted “A” pictures produced by MGM. Producer Sol Lesser was cranking out the programmers over at RKO, and O’Sullivan was long gone. Meanwhile, Crabbe, who played Tarzan in 1933’s TARZAN THE FEARLESS, but who really made his name as Flash Gordon in three enormously popular Universal serials, was busy cranking out B-westerns for the “poverty row” studio PRC five or six times per year.

Naturally, children were the biggest fans of the two stars, which is why it’s perplexing that Paramount would team them up for the first time in a Cajun melodrama with barely any action. SWAMP FIRE was produced by William H. Pine and William C. Thomas, who were known as the “Dollar Bills,” because of their talent for making profitable low-budget features for Paramount. Weissmuller landed the leading role of Johnny Duval, a shell-shocked World War II veteran who returns to his home in the Louisiana Delta to resume life as a bar pilot. Third-billed Crabbe, a dashing man with a resounding speaking voice that served him well as good guys and bad guys, supported Weissmuller as Mike Kalavich, a Cajun troublemaker who was washed out of the Coast Guard and pines for Duval’s girl, Toni (Carol Thurston).

Made very much on the cheap with rear-projection screens standing in for sets half the time, Swamp Fire never really ignites. Daniel Mainwaring’s screenplay creates a clumsy love triangle with rich bitch Janet Hilton (Virginia Grey) swooping in and stealing Johnny from Toni. On the mend at the Hilton estate following a tragic accident at sea, Johnny doesn’t know that Janet is ripping up Toni’s letters before he can read them. Strangely, Mike doesn’t take advantage of Duval’s absence to move in on Toni. Instead, he’s infuriated that Janet’s wealthy father (Pierre Watkin) is buying up the swampland and forbidding the local hunters and trappers from making a living on his land, stirring the hot-headed Mike to set the whole damn bayou on fire. David Janssen, who was a teenager in 1946, is reportedly in the film. There’s only one teen boy in the cast, and he didn’t look or sound much like Janssen to me, but I’ll go along with it.

Marty McKee - May 9, 2006 11:59 PM (GMT)
FURY OF THE CONGO (1951)--Directed by William Berke. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Bill Henry, Sherry Moreland, Joel Friedkin. Jungle Jim (Weissmuller) rescues a man named Cameron (Henry) from a plane crash. Cameron claims to be a cop in search of a scientist from Cairo who went missing in the Congo while researching a rare animal species known as the Okongo (actually brown ponies unconvincingly painted with white stripes). The professor, Dunham (Friedkin), has actually been kidnapped by white drug dealers and forced to manufacture a narcotic using the glandular fluids of the Okongo. Jim helps Cameron track the Okongo, the idea being that where they find the animals, they’ll also find Dunham. However, Jim didn’t count on Cameron not being who he claims to be, nor getting ambushed by a tribe of native women angry that their husbands were kidnapped by white men.

Producer Sam Katzman recycles footage from earlier Jungle Jim movies of Weissmuller fighting a leopard and swinging over a chasm. New is the star’s “battle” with a giant desert spider, possibly the nadir of the entire Jungle Jim series. This is one anemic spider, and even though it’s supposed to be dragging Jim across some rocks, it’s obvious that Weissmuller is pushing himself towards the mangy hairball doubling as the killer arachnid. There’s a lot of running in this movie, and Berke shoots some scenes on location at Vasquez Rocks. Also with Lyle Talbot, John Hart, George Eldridge and Randy Wescoatt. This was the sixth in the series, after JUNGLE JIM IN PYGMY ISLAND. JUNGLE MANHUNT was next.

Marty McKee - May 19, 2006 12:41 AM (GMT)
JUNGLE MANHUNT (1951)--Directed by Lew Landers. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Bob Waterfield, Sheila Ryan, Lyle Talbot. Would you believe not one but two monosyllabic athletes posing as actors? Los Angeles Rams quarterback Waterfield (then married to Jane Russell) joins Olympic gold medalist Weissmuller in the seventh Jungle Jim movie. Jim (Weissmuller) meets a plucky photojournalist (Ryan) hired to search for a missing athlete (Waterfield) who crashlanded in the jungle eight years earlier. Could Waterfield be the same mysterious white man who is scaring the natives by dressing his goons in creepy “skeleton man” costumes and using his kidnapped prey as slave labor to create synthetic diamonds out of igneous rocks, sugar and cold water? With Lyle Talbot in the cast listing, probably not. Landers’ static direction doesn’t do much to ignite this junky adventure with fantasy elements, including a fight between prehistoric creatures (actually the same ol’ stock footage from ONE MILLION B.C. seen in zillions of low-budget movies). A shark fights an octopus, and Weissmuller fights a shark. Familiar faces Rick Vallin and Rusty Wescoatt fight costumed extras. Waterfield throws football-shaped bombs in scenes that anticipate Sam Jones in FLASH GORDON.

Marty McKee - June 2, 2006 01:18 AM (GMT)
KILLER APE (1953)--Directed by Spencer G. Bennet. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Carol Thurston, Nestor Paiva, Max Palmer. It’s difficult to imagine any of the JUNGLE JIMs being worse than this one. All of them were filmed quickly and cheaply, but Bennet must have been directing with one hand on a stopwatch. The stock footage is horribly mismatched, the action scenes are unconvincing, and Carroll Young’s screenplay takes the easy way out whenever possible. For instance, the jungle is threatened by a mythical “man-ape”, an eight-foot mutant spawned from generations of crossbreeding between apes and the native babies they kidnap and raise. This man-ape (played by pro wrestler Palmer) is impervious to knives and bullets, but Jim’s chimp Tamba stops it by dropping a loose vine on its head.

The pulpy story had promise: Jungle Jim (Weissmuller) steps in when evil scientists conduct mind-control experiments on jungle wildlife. In their quest to create a serum that will allow unfriendly nations to brainwash and destroy its enemies, the men led by Andrews (Paiva) test their fatal potion on animals procured innocently for them by a native tribe led by the brother of Shari (Thurston). Weissmuller’s performance is limp even by his standards, and the oddly chosen stock footage includes old film of men bashing crocodiles over the head with sticks. Also with Michael Fox, Burt Wenland and Ray Corrigan.

Tim Rogerson - June 2, 2006 09:21 AM (GMT)
The ending sounds similar to that of Billy the Kid vs Dracula when..


John Carradine's Count Dracula proves impervious to several bullets but is then knocked out unconscious when the empty pistol is thrown at his head.

Marty McKee - July 7, 2006 04:08 AM (GMT)
JUNGLE MAN-EATERS (1954)--Directed by Lee Sholem. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Gregory Gay, Karin Booth, Richard Wyler. Weissmuller’s last official Jungle Jim movie is one of the worst. Producer Sam Katzman went crazy with the stock footage. I wouldn’t be surprised if 20% of this 67-minute feature is recycled from someplace else. Weissmuller fights a crocodile (again!), a lion (again!), some sailors, a bunch of natives and a Frenchman. Leroux (Gay) snoops around looking for a diamond mine, killing the men who found it, but forgetting (I guess) to ask them where it was. Jim is kind of an imbecile in this movie, blundering into trouble. Chimp Tamba accidentally hits him in the head with a rock that knocks him out, and idiot Inspector Bernard (Wyler) stumbles not once but twice and gets Jim captured both times. Sholem directs a few serial-style fistfights that are a bit rougher than the usual Jungle Jim punchfests. Woody Strode and Bernie Hamilton are supposedly in this one, but I didn’t recognize them. There were no more Jungle Jim movies for Weissmuller, but he made three more similar features for Columbia and Katzman playing a character named…Johnny Weissmuller!

Brian Camp - July 7, 2006 12:11 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Marty McKee @ Jul 6 2006, 10:08 PM)
JUNGLE MAN-EATERS (1954)--Directed by Lee Sholem.  Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Gregory Gay, Karin Booth, Richard Wyler.

RE: Richard Wyler. Wyler was known as Richard Stapley in his Hollywood years and according to James Robert Parish's reference book, The Great Movie Series, he was indeed billed as Stapley in JUNGLE MAN-EATERS. How is he billed in the credits of the JUNGLE print you saw, Marty? I first encountered him as Wyler some 15 years later when he played the lead in the very first Italian western I saw, THE UGLY ONES, which co-starred Tomas Milian.

Marty McKee - July 7, 2006 12:34 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Brian Camp @ Jul 7 2006, 07:11 AM)
RE: Richard Wyler. Wyler was known as Richard Stapley in his Hollywood years and according to James Robert Parish's reference book, The Great Movie Series, he was indeed billed as Stapley in JUNGLE MAN-EATERS. How is he billed in the credits of the JUNGLE print you saw, Marty? I first encountered him as Wyler some 15 years later when he played the lead in the very first Italian western I saw, THE UGLY ONES, which co-starred Tomas Milian.

He's Richard Stapley in JUNGLE MAN-EATERS. And Gay is Gregory Gaye.

Marty McKee - August 1, 2006 05:03 PM (GMT)
CANNIBAL ATTACK (1954)--Directed by Lee Sholem. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Judy Walsh, David Bruce. Producer Sam Katzman must have grown weary of paying King Features a licensing fee, because Weissmuller is no longer called “Jungle Jim” in his 14th Jungle Jim movie. In his last three Columbia programmers for Katzman, Johnny plays…Johnny Weissmuller! He dresses just like Jungle Jim, though, and the sets, plots, music and action remain the same. Outside of calling the lead character “Johnny,” no attempt is made to differentiate this movie from previous Jungle Jim movies. I’m surprised King Features didn’t attempt to sue for copyright infringement.

Carroll Young’s comic-book-like story finds Johnny investigating a missing cache of cobalt that appears to have been attacked by crocodiles. In one of the series’ unlikeliest plot devices, the villains disguise themselves as crocs by crawling around in rubber suits. Conniving jungle girl Luora, played by the very sexy Judy Walsh, is the brains and the curves behind the plot to hijack the cobalt and sell it to a sinister government. Johnny is something of a clod in this movie. He gets knocked out several times, and, while trying to rescue a friend from a (real) croc attack, even trips over his own feet and knocks himself out. What a maroon. Also with Bruce Cowling, Steve Darrell and Charles Evans. There is no cannibalism in this movie.

Tim Rogerson - August 6, 2006 06:41 PM (GMT)

Thanks for these postings. all of which I've enjoyed. I've seen the entire Weissmuller Tarzan series but never seen a single Jungle Jim movie (I don't think they've ever been on TV in the UK). The first few at least seem well worth a look.

I recently got the Tarzan Collection DVD series - have re-watched the first two movies so far. Both are awesome films (especially the second in its uncut version which I hadn't seen before) - OK some of it is awful and we laughed a lot - and were clearly the Titanic of their day.

Thanks again

Marty McKee - September 17, 2007 03:59 AM (GMT)
SAVAGE MUTINY (1953)—Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Angela Stevens, Gregory Gaye. Jungle Jim is tasked to evacuate a tribe of villagers from an island off the African coast, because the Americans plan to use it as an atomic bomb test site. However, a pair of enemy agents, led by trader Kroman (Gaye), tricks the natives into returning to the island, so they can photograph their charred radioactive corpses and use the film as anti-American propaganda. Despite its rather childish ideas concerning the long-term effects of radiation (the film indicates the natives will be able to return home after a few months), SAVAGE MUTINY is one of producer Sam Katzman’s better Jungle Jim entries. Former serial director Bennet provides plenty of gun-shootin’, native-battlin’, panther-rasslin’ action, and the vaguely European baddies (Gaye uses an accent of sorts, but it doesn’t sound Russian) are thoroughly evil and deserving of a good Jungle Jim thrashing. Stevens, as a World Health Organization nurse who accompanies Jim so that she can provide the natives with inoculations, later co-starred in Katzman’s CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN. Also with Lester Matthews, Charles Stevens, Leonard Penn and Nelson Leigh.

Brian Camp - September 18, 2007 03:12 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Marty McKee @ Sep 16 2007, 09:59 PM)
SAVAGE MUTINY (1953)  Also with Lester Matthews, Charles Stevens, Leonard Penn and Nelson Leigh.

Charles Stevens, who plays Chief Wamai in the film, was the grandson of Apache warrior Geronimo.

Marty McKee - August 3, 2012 04:26 PM (GMT)
TCM is airing JUNGLE JIM, THE LOST TRIBE, and PYGMY ISLAND tonight as part of its all-day Johnny Weissmuller celebration.

Ian McDowell - August 4, 2012 06:16 AM (GMT)
Watching JUNGLE JIM now. Where is this taking place? The dog chases an orangutang at one point, and the "native" bearers are white men in turbans, but with vaguely Zulu shields and spears.

And not only did Weismuller's acting not get better after all these years, but it got worse. I'd argue that he's hugely charismatic in the first two Tarzan films, brylcreamed hair and all, with lithe catlike energy and palpable sexual chemistry with O'Sullivan. He doesn't say his pidgin lines particularly well, but his eyes are alive and he conveys innocence, sexual arousal and a boyish sense of humor. Admittedly, the movies let O'Sullivan do most of the heavy lifting, acting-wise (she's the real protagonist of TARZAN THE APE MAN and probably gets more screen time in TARZAN AND HIS MATE than Tarzan does), but he's rarely wooden and can be quite expressive. All that is long gone by the time he was allowed to wear a shirt and speak in complete sentences.

Marty McKee - August 4, 2012 04:08 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Ian McDowell @ Aug 4 2012, 01:16 AM)
Watching JUNGLE JIM now. Where is this taking place? The dog chases an orangutang at one point, and the "native" bearers are white men in turbans, but with vaguely Zulu shields and spears.

And not only did Weismuller's acting not get better after all these years, but it got worse. I'd argue that he's hugely charismatic in the first two Tarzan films, brylcreamed hair and all, with lithe catlike energy and palpable sexual chemistry with O'Sullivan. He doesn't say his pidgin lines particularly well, but his eyes are alive and he conveys innocence, sexual arousal and a boyish sense of humor. Admittedly, the movies let O'Sullivan do most of the heavy lifting, acting-wise (she's the real protagonist of TARZAN THE APE MAN and probably gets more screen time in TARZAN AND HIS MATE than Tarzan does), but he's rarely wooden and can be quite expressive. All that is long gone by the time he was allowed to wear a shirt and speak in complete sentences.


I figure when Johnny got older, he got lazier, started eating more (that's obvious), probably never took acting all that seriously anyway (he only acted in one non-Tarzan, non-Jungle Jim film). He was very wealthy by the time he became Jungle Jim and was likely doing the films as a lark. I doubt the children in the audience noticed.

Brian Camp - August 5, 2012 01:07 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Marty McKee @ Aug 4 2012, 10:08 AM)
(he only acted in one non-Tarzan, non-Jungle Jim film)

That would be SWAMP FIRE (1946), which pitted him against another former Tarzan/former swimming champ, Buster Crabbe.

Here's what I wrote about it in another forum after re-watching it last year:

This one’s about river pilots and bar pilots in the Louisiana delta. Weissmuller plays a ship pilot back from the war who’s lost his nerve. Crabbe plays his Cajun nemesis. Both are in love with hot-blooded Cajun beauty Carol Thurston. Virginia Grey is the arrogant rich chick whose father is buying up land in the area and who sets her sights on Weissmuller. (This aspect of the plot is very similar to JUNGLE JIM, reviewed earlier in this post.) Pretty intense dramatics set against an unusual exotic backdrop. Lots of location shots are intercut with scenes of the actors (all shot in a Hollywood studio). This is the only film Weissmuller made in which he plays a character other than Tarzan, Jungle Jim, or himself. He has a swimming scene and a Tarzan-like battle with an alligator. Crabbe’s a real bad guy with a moustache and a heavy accent. Both Weissmuller and Crabbe had played Tarzan and both were onetime swimming champs.

Here's what I wrote about JUNGLE JIM in that same forum:
Once Weissmuller got too old to play Tarzan, he went over to Columbia to do this low-budget jungle series based on a comic strip. The onetime Olympic swimming champ was still in shape enough to do swimming scenes here, including one with a sexy native girl who has the hots for him, played by gorgeous brunette Lita Baron. Padded out with endless stock shots of jungle wildlife. The natives all look Polynesian or Asian Indian and are played by various ethnic types, but no blacks. George Reeves, TV’s Superman, plays a lazy, once-rich photographer who joins the safari in hopes of finding treasure.

Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Superman are all in the mix.

Marty McKee - August 5, 2012 04:18 AM (GMT)
My SWAMP FIRE review is elsewhere in this thread.

Brian Camp - August 5, 2012 11:12 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Marty McKee @ Aug 4 2012, 10:18 PM)
My SWAMP FIRE review is elsewhere in this thread.

Indeed it is, posted six years ago! I just checked to make sure I hadn't already responded to it and then forgotten about it. (I've learned, in most cases, to check through old threads before responding, so as not to repeat myself years later.)

Marty McKee - October 14, 2012 09:56 PM (GMT)
JUNGLE JIM IN THE FORBIDDEN LAND (1952)—Directed by Lew Landers. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Angela Greene, Lester Matthews, Clem Erickson, Irmgard H.H. Raschke. Screenwriter Samuel Newman (INVISIBLE INVADERS) added a touch of science fiction to this Columbia B-picture, the eighth of thirteen Jungle Jim movies to star former Tarzan Weissmuller (or sixteen movies, if you include the last three, which cast Weissmuller as “Johnny Weissmuller,” but are otherwise completely similar to the Jungle Jims). It’s one of the series’ best, which seems like faint praise when you consider the ludicrous plotting. Cute anthropologist Linda Roberts (Greene) bucks the snooty government official who tells her to stay home and heads into the jungle on an expedition. The rest of her party is ravaged by a plastic hippopotamus, and Jungle Jim arrives just in time to wrestle and strangle a stuffed panther with designs on her. She explains to Jim what an anthropologist is (this is hilarious) and convinces him to take her to the Land of the Giant People, of whom we see only two. Played by non-actors Erickson and Raschke, the “Giant People” are about seven feet tall and covered in fur. The makeup is okay, considering the budget and time factor, and director Landers (TAILSPIN TOMMY) paces the film like a serial, delivering a new fight or action sequence every few minutes (the film runs only 64) and shooting on more locations than usual for a Jungle Jim (Iverson Movie Ranch, I believe). Ivory poachers and wild elephants are additional perils in Jim and Linda’s quest, which never quite makes it to a forbidden land. Also with Jean Willes, William Tannen, Frederic Berest, and George Eldredge.

Marty McKee - March 11, 2015 03:23 AM (GMT)
JUNGLE MOON MEN (1955) — Directed by Charles S. Gould. Stars Johnny Weissmuller, Jean Byron, Helen Stanton, Bill Henry, Myron Healey, Billy Curtis, Ben Chapman, Michael Granger. When producer Sam Katzman no longer owned the film rights to King Features’ Jungle Jim character, he just changed the name of the leading character played by Johnny Weissmuller to “Johnny Weissmuller” and kept churning out the movies. It didn’t affect Weissmuller’s performance at all nor probably Columbia’s box office profits. Katzman and serial director Charles S. Gould (THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN KIDD) shot JUNGLE MOON MEN in a week, and after thirteen Jungle Jim pictures (and one “Johnny Weissmuller”), the template was firmly established.

JUNGLE MOON MEN is as much H. Rider Haggard than it is Alex Raymond. Johnny (Weissmuller) agrees to guide Ellen Marsten (Jean Byron, later the mom on THE PATTY DUKE SHOW), an Egyptologist, deep into the jungle to find a native tribe called the Baku. It just so happens that Nolimo (Michael Granger) approaches Johnny the same day to help him find his son Marro (Ben Chapman, one of the Creatures from the Black Lagoon), who has been kidnapped by the so-called “Moon Men,” who just happen to live in — wait for it — the Baku.

Ellen’s boyfriend Bob Prentice (Bill Henry) joins the expedition, while unscrupulous guide Santo (Myron Healey), whom Johnny hates, tags along behind in an effort to find diamonds he believes the Moon Men have. The Moon Men are pygmies, including Billy Curtis in not one of his most dignified roles (Weissmuller repels the whole tribe simply by lifting the kicking Curtis off the ground), and worship the sun-worshipping Oma (Helen Stanton), who captures the team and demands that Bob marry her and become her high priest.

People loved Johnny Weissmuller, which is the only reason the Jungle Jim series (which JUNGLE MOON MEN should be considered a part of) ran as long as it did. In fact, at the same time he was doing the “Johnny Weissmuller” films, he was also starring as Jungle Jim in a syndicated television series. I doubt the kids were confused. Nor will you be by JUNGLE MOON MEN’s simple story, which weaves elements of SHE into the jungle B-picture template. Performed and produced adequately enough for kiddie matinees, this was Johnny’s next-to-last feature before retiring.

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