Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Here's a silent moom double feature for all of you jungle bums out there presented to us courtesy of Grapevine Video (see link on left) or in my case Bill Shute, a man who knows what'll make me sit in front of the boob tube to watch a film. And dollars to dillweeds it sure ain't THE LADY WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO or any of those flickers that used to make Roger Ebert skid shorts even at a time when he had considerable control of his nether regions!

The first flick's a 1913 effort only a half-hour in length about this gal living in Africa with her explorer father who seems to like the flora and fauna, if not the fact that she's millions of miles away from any sorta sensible feminine hygiene. Anyway, the gal comes across a buncha guys from the Barlum (no sic) Circus on the hunt for Thor, the legendary Lord of the Jungle lion! Soon both Thor and the gal (named "Gene"...well at least it wasn't Ralph Monroe!) are in Ameriga with the circus, and as you can guess both are really homesick for the old country! When the head of the circus has eyes for Gene and tries to take advantage of her, it's up to Thor to save the day and he does so in the most grisly way possible!

As for the original 1918 version of Tarzan with Elmo Lincoln in the lead role well, this film does figure into my own growing up years because in December of 1973 my father finally decided, after a whole lotta prodding, to put an antenna on the roof of our house 'stead of just stick a UHF corner reflector/bow-tie in the rafters of our garage because he didn't want to keep paying some repairman to fix the thing everytime a strong wind blew into town. At that time we only got one station in clear, one fuzzy yet watchable, and two so fuzzy that half the time they'd be blizzarded outta existence. Well, on that late-autumn cold and blustery Saturday around five or so in the afternoon we finally turned on the tee-vee to see what kind of reception we were now getting, and not only did we pick up the local stations crystal clear but distant ones I wasn't even familiar with at the time and as you can tell by now my life was forever changed.

Anyway to make a long story short we just happened to be pulling in Cle PBS station WVIZ channel 25 well enough to get a fuzzy picture with sound, and since it was the top of the hour an ad for the movie that was to appear on the OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA  program that evening was being aired. Turns out that moom was none other than what else but the original 1918 version of TARZAN OF THE APES, and naturally old thing-loving me waited the rest of the day with baited breath to see this film considering how I harbored an interest in things like old films even at a time long before I discovered that a good portion of the guys who were into old movies weren't exactly the kind you'd like to meet up with in a gang shower or trough urinal. But hey I was fourteen, and they weren't teaching stuff like this in sex education like they shoulda so what did I know!

Not-so-surprisingly enough, by the time it was ready to be aired wouldn't ya know it but the signal fizzed out for good! This came to be a frustrating experience for me, considering how sometimes I would be able to get channel 25 in clear enough to watch such movies as Lon Chaney's THE PENALTY and at least the first fifteen minutes of THE CAT AND THE CANARY, but most of the time the signal would be so faint that I could barely make out the futuristic flying machines in THINGS TO COME or the extreme closeups and grotesque medieval faces in THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC.

Almost forty years later wouldn't you know it, but I finally got to see TARZAN in its entirety (the take from FRACTURED FLICKERS does not count!) and gotta admit that it's a pretty good sit-through even for a doof like myself who grew up watching the Johnny Weismuller version on Sunday afternoon tee-vee. Elmo Lincoln may look ridiculous as the Ape Man with that fright wig and barrel chested physique, but he does come off convincingly primitive enough. I guess the story comes close enough to the original (or at least what I could get from the graphic novel that came out around the time this was being aired), and I for one felt that the effort was rather noble considering just how many liberties Hollywood takes with the original mangling it in their own sickoid image.

Yeah the humans in ape suits do detract a bit, but at least they stick some real ones in among 'em just to give it a li'l air of respectability if not an air of breathableness! And not only that, but you homo readers'll really get a kick (as well as something else!) outta the scene where a young Tarzan (played pretty expressively by Gordon Griffith) runs around buck nekkid and you get to see a whole lotta his tanned rear end! There's something in TARZAN OF THE APES for everybody no matter how decayed they are in the grey matter area, and watching something like this does remind me of the days when your local PBS station wasn't just another outlet for educational kiddie shows and boring theatre, but aired honest to goodness fun films and surprises like this and nobody seemed to complain! Of course hardly anybody was watching, but that mere fact made it something special for turdburgers like us ifyaknowaddamean...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tarzan (1918) is available online