Friday, May 7, 2010

Silent Movie Fest - Day 3 - Tarzan of the Apes (1918)

Just a short note to start things off: You may have noticed that instead of "Silent Movie Week", the title above says "Silent Movie Fest". that's because, truth be told, I'm simply finding that trying to keep to a one movie per day schedule is negatively affecting the quality of the posts that I'm able to do here, and not giving me the time to really treat them properly. Therefore, I'm going to be cutting the schedule back a bit. For instance, rather than trying to cover all five of the silent films I'd planned to this week, I'll still be doing the same number of films just over a two-week period instead on one. Not only will this change in schedule allow me to spend a bit more time with each film, it will give me a chance to work on some other projects that I hope you'll enjoy, including making some cosmetic changes to the site and updating the Master List which has been woefully neglected of late. There are also some new surprises coming down the lane which I'm not quite ready to announce yet, but I think will be a lot of fun.

Ok, enough of that for now, let's move on to today's film, shall we?

Tarzan. Lord Greystoke. The Lord of the Apes. When most people think of cinematic representations of the jungle hero, their mind immediately goes to Johnny Weismuller, whom many consider the definitive interpreter of the role. Weismuller was not, howevver, the first cinematic Tarzan. That honor actually goes to Elmo Lincoln who portrayed the Apeman in two feature films and a 15 chapter serial from 1918 to 1921. He also actually appeared as a circus roustabout in the 1942 Weismuller outing Tarzan's New York Adventure and had a small role in 1949's Tarzan's Magic Fountain which starred Lex Barker as the jungle king.

(Ok, for those sticklers out there, I'll grant you that technically Gordon Griffith, who plays the young Lord Greystoke in the film is the first cinematic Tarzan, but it's not really until Lincoln steps in that he's actually the Tarzan that we recognise as the Lord of the Jungle.)

The film is actually on of the more faithful recreations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' book, though it actually only covers the first half of the novel. The rest would have to wait for the follow-up, The Romance of Tarzan, released the same year. In the film we see Lord and Lady Greystoke saved during a mutiny by a sailor named Binns. However, even though the couple are not killed, they are left abandoned on the coast of Africa. The pregnant Lady Greystoke son gives birth, but dies within a month, and her husband soon after. Their infant son survives, however, and is adopted by the great ape Kala. Raised as one of the apes, the young boy soon grows to manhood and in the process becomes the king of the apes. His idyllic life, however, is soon to be interrupted when Binns, held captive by Arabs for 10 years, escapes and sees Tarzan. Realising who he actually is, Binns notifies the Greystoke family who soon send an expedition to find the lost heir.

Lincoln provides a Tarzan who is beefier than those used to seeing the swimmers' physiques of later actors might expect, but it is really quite fitting as his jungle fighter truly looks like someone who could wrestle with apes or take down a lion.

Let's take a look, shall we?

And now, the Skinny:
Title: Tarzan of the Apes
Release Date: 1918
Running Time: 73min
Black and White
Starring: Elmo Lincoln
Directed by: Scott Sidney
Produced by: William Parsons
Distributed by: National Film Corporation of America

Tarzan of the Apes is available for download or to watch for free here.
It's also available on DVD from Amazon: Tarzan of the Apes.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


Damn said...

Squirrel loves him some fest-iveness...

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