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Tarzan and the Huntress (April 5, 1947)

Kurt Neumann’s Tarzan and the Huntress should really be called Tarzan and the Poachers. The word “huntress” conveys more risqué sexiness than the film actually contains (the same can be said of the poster), and seems designed to draw in the same people who shivered at the sight of the muscular Johnny Weissmuller being clawed by the beautiful actress Acquanetta in his previous outing as the King of the Jungle, Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946).

When Tarzan and the Huntress begins, we learn that zoos around the world are facing a post-war shortage of animals. (Did lions and monkeys get drafted? I missed that.)

Enter Tanya Rawlins (Patricia Morison, stepping up from Queen of the Amazons to a higher-quality jungle movie). Tanya is an animal trainer leading a safari that also includes her villainous guide, big-game hunter Paul Weir (Barton MacLane), and the moneyman, Carl Marley (John Warburton).

Meanwhile, a half-naked couple who live in a treehouse with their pet chimp and their boy, who calls his adoptive parents by their first names, are preparing to honor local monarch King Farrod (Charles Trowbridge) on the occasion of his birthday. No, they’re not hippies, they’re Tarzan and Jane, played by Weissmuller and Brenda Joyce. Their adopted son, “Boy,” is once again played by Johnny Sheffield, who looks as if he should probably change his name to “Man” sometime soon (or at least “The Artist Formerly Known As ‘Boy'”), since he’s nearly as big as Tarzan. (This was Sheffield’s last role in a Tarzan picture. In 1949 he struck out on his own in the Bomba, the Jungle Boy series.) When Tarzan inspects the fishing pole that Boy has fashioned for King Farrod, he smiles and says, “Everybody like fishing, even kings.” This might be a lesser entry in the Tarzan series, but the playfulness of Tarzan’s little family group and their idyllic life in the jungle is always fun to watch. If you’ve seen one Tarzan movie, however, you’ve seen them all, and you know that something will soon come to threaten their peaceful existence.

In this case, it’s a perfect storm of Tarzan-related problems — hunters and trappers arriving from the “civilized” world, treacherous locals, and Cheeta and Boy’s shared love of shiny objects.

When Weir tells Tanya that King Farrod won’t allow more than two specimens of each animal to be taken out of the jungle, Noah’s-Ark style, she sputters, “You can’t be serious!” So in a back-door deal, the king’s scheming nephew, Prince Ozira (Ted Hecht), offers Weir and Tanya a “no quota, no restrictions” offer on trapping animals, as long as they pay him a bounty per animal.

One of the members of Tanya’s safari offers to trade Boy a hand-crank flashlight for Cheeta. Boy refuses, since Cheeta’s like a member of the family, but he’s not above stealing a pair of lioness’s cubs in exchange for the nearly worthless bauble.

Tarzan returns the two cubs to their mother and draws a line in the sand. Hunters stay on their side of the river, Tarzan stay on his.

The hunting party doesn’t seem overly concerned, but then Tarzan calls all the animals to him with his powerful jungle cry, and they leave the hunters’ side and come to his.

It’s on.

Tarzan knows just how to handle the greedy poachers when they cross the river into his territory. “Hunters without guns like bees without stings. Hunters not so brave now,” he says, after he steals all of their weapons and hides them behind a waterfall.

That would be the end of the story if it weren’t for that darned Cheeta, who wants Tanya’s shiny compact so badly that she shows the hunters the way to the waterfall.

Cheeta gets her compact, the poachers get their guns, and it’s time for Tarzan and Boy to hand out the punishment, one hunter at a time.

Tarzan and the Huntress was Weissmuller’s penultimate turn as Tarzan. After appearing in Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948), he went on to star in the Jungle Jim series and Lex Barker took over starring in the franchise with Tarzan’s Magic Fountain (1949).

Weissmuller appears to have gained some weight since he made the previous picture in the series, Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, but he’s always fun to watch as the character. Brenda Joyce looks beautiful, as always, but I wasn’t sure what to make of her little slip-on pantyhose shoes.

If you’ve never seen a Tarzan picture before, Tarzan and the Huntress probably isn’t the place to start, but it’s solid entertainment for fans of the series, and offers especially good animal action and hijinks.

5 responses »

  1. The last four Johnny Weissmuller RKO Tarzan films were titled to titillate (Tarzan and the Amazons, Leopard Woman, Huntress and Mermaids) but only Leopard Woman provided any real sort of conflict between Tarzan and the implied female nemesis.

    Weissmuller still looks very good though he lost some of his muscle tone since the previous film. I may be in the minority, but I prefer Brenda Joyce’s Jane to Maureen O’Sullivan. Brenda had an easy on the eyes wholesome beauty along with a gorgeous pair of legs as well.

    Out of the four films Joyce’s Jane pairs up with Weissmuller’s Tarzan, Huntress probably has the most romance and playfulness between the two. When Tarzan makes a rare joke at Jane’s expense, she tickles his chest to extract an apology. (The same pectorals of Weissmuller’s that were nearly clawed open memorably by Acquanetta’s Lea in the previous Leopard Woman film!!!)

    Presumably by now, you can deduce that Boy knows Tarzan and Jane are his adopted parents since he calls Jane by her name and not by a maternal one.

    Understandably this is Johnny Sheffield’s last film as Boy at age 16 since its character had run his course….or perhaps Boy was spending too much time staring at Jane. 😉

    Huntress lacks the action and sexuality that was present in he previous Leopard Woman film, but the life of Tarzan, Jane & Boy provide an interesting backdrop that carries the film.

    • I agree about Brenda Joyce. I found the transition from Maureen O’Sullivan (whom I always really liked) to Joyce a little jarring a first, but now I really like her. She’s beautiful and has a killer body. Have you seen any of the Tarzan movies she made with Lex Barker? I’m looking forward to seeing “Tarzan’s Magic Fountain,” since I’ve never seen any of Lex Barker’s Tarzan movies.

      • After this, her third Tarzan film, Brenda Joyce was Jane for two more films: Tarzan and the Mermaids with an (unfortunately) out of shape Weissmuller in his last Tarzan film in 1948, followed by Tarzan’s Magic Fountain a year later with Lex Barker.

        You WILL notice in her final two films as Jane that Brenda does look a bit shapelier and curvier – but it’s definitely not a bad thing!!!

        What disappointed me about her turn as Jane with Lex Barker is that they revived some of the passion between Tarzan & Jane in “Magic Fountain” that was missing for the better part of her four films with Weissmuller. Which was a shame because I felt Weissmuller & Joyce made quite a lovely, stunning couple as Tarzan and Jane.

  2. Brenda Joyce looking a little curvier is definitely not a bad thing! I thought she looked even better in “Tarzan and the Huntress” than she did in her first two movies with Weissmuller, so I’m glad to hear it gets even better.

  3. I agree about Brenda’s sexy look in this film. I especially like her revealing two-piece tunic that she wears on several occasions. Johnny’s physique wasn’t as impressive as in “Leopard Woman” but still quite awesome.


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