The next Tarzan film I decided to see is Tarzan Escapes from 1936. Like Tarzan and His Mate, this film once again sees outside forces attempting to return Jane to civilization, this time in the form of her cousins Eric and Rita. These two mean well, but their actions sure do cause a lot of grief for Jane and Tarzan, especially when a certain revelation is made at the end of the film (but I’ll get to that in a little bit).
Tarzan Escapes has two primary conflicts: one centers on whether or not Jane will return to civilization to sign some financial papers that will help her cousins, and the other involves Captain Fry, a big game hunter who has nefarious designs on Tarzan. The latter plays out as exactly the way you think it will (Tarzan does get caught but it doesn’t last for long and revenge is exacted). The big heart wrenching element in this film comes when Jane has to explain to Tarzan why she needs to go away for a few months to help her cousins. The only part of it that Tarzan understands is that Jane is going away, and it clearly breaks his heart. It’s enough to make me want to cry, even though I’ve rewatched the scene several times by now. Weissmuller’s Tarzan is so in love with Jane, even a temporary separation feels like the end of the world.
But what really bugs me about all of this, as I mentioned earlier, is that none of it had to happen. You see, early in the film Eric and Rita make it plain that Jane needs to come with them to provide her signature on some documents. However, once the status quo has been restored, it comes out that Eric and Rita were lying through their teeth: Jane never needed to come with them, she could’ve just signed a paper in the jungle and that would’ve been that. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but this revelation makes me more than a little angry on Jane and Tarzan’s behalf. Essentially, Tarzan’s heart was ripped out and stomped on (when he thought Jane was leaving) for no reason.
And I can’t leave a review of Tarzan Escapes without talking about Captain Fry, or more specifically what happens to him at the end of the story. After racing to safety through a treacherous swamp, Tarzan turns and forces Fry to go back the way they just came. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t have to, after everything that’s happened, it’s clear that Tarzan consider’s Fry’s actions to be unforgivable and nobody, not even Jane, can convince him otherwise. It’s a spine-chilling moment and a reminder that Tarzan is not one to mess with, for any reason.
Tarzan Escapes is another enjoyable entry in the series of Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films, and one that everyone should see if they get the chance.
Let me know what you think about Tarzan Escapes in the comments below and have a happy New Year!!
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