The New Adventures of Tarzan is a 1935 American film serial in 12 chapters. It is a more authentic version of the character than most other adaptations, with Tarzan as a cultured and well educated gentleman as in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. The film quality is not high, however. It was filmed during the same period as the Johnny Weissmuller/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan films.
Publicity and urban legend to the contrary, Burroughs had little to do with the serial, which was actually the idea and project of his friend, Dearholt.
The serial was partly filmed in Guatemala, and Tarzan was played by Herman Brix (known postwar as Bruce Bennett). The final screenplay was credited to Charles F. Royal, and from Episode 6 onward, also Basil Dickey. It was produced by Ashton Dearholt, Bennett Cohen and George Stout under the corporate name of Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises Inc. (which also distributed) and was directed by Edward Kull and Wilbur F. McGaugh.
Several plot elements bring the characters together in search (and pursuit) of the Guatemalan idol known as The Green Goddess: Tarzan's friend D'Arnot has crash landed in the region. Major Martling is leading an expedition to find the fabled artefact. Ula Vale's fiance died in an earlier expedition and so she starts one of her own in his honour. Raglan has been sent by Hiram Powers, Ula's lawyer, to steal the valuable idol for himself - in addition to containing a treasure trove, the idol is also said to contain an ancient formula for a super-explosive that could prove very valuable and very dangerous.
Tarzan and Major Martling find the idol and rescue D'Arnot from the natives that worship it. However, Raglan escapes with the Green Goddess and heads for the coast. Tarzan and company, joined by Ula, pursue him across the jungle, out to sea and back to Africa in an attempt to stop him and reclaim the idol.
- Herman Brix as Tarzan or John Clayton, the Lord Greystoke. Brix was the second choice, after Johnny Weismuller, for Tarzan in the MGM films. Brix was hand picked for this serial by Burroughs
- Ula Holt as Ula Vale, on her own expedition to find the Green Goddess. This is her only film role, she was discovered by, and soon married, the director. In the original version the character was to be revealed as government agent Operator 17 but this was changed during production.
- Ashton Dearholt as P.B. Raglan, a mercenary villain sent to steal the valuable Green Goddess. Note that Dearholt is also the producer of this serial, he had to take the role at the last minute after the original actor, Don Castello, became ill..
- Frank Baker as Major Francis Martling, scientist leading an expedition to find the Green Goddess
- Lewis Sargent as George, bumbling comic relief part of Major Martling's expedition
- Jiggs as Nkima, Tarzan's chimpanzee, this is the name of the chimp from Burroughs' books, rather than the movie-version called Cheetah. He earned $2,000 for this role.
- Dale Walsh as Alice Martling
- Harry Ernest as Gordon Hamilton
- Merrill McCormick as Bouchart Merrill
This serial features an alternate version of the famous Tarzan yell. This version is variously described as a rising pitch "Mmmmm-ann-gann-niii" or "Taaar-maan-ganiii" sound. The "Taaar-maan-ganiii" version originally comes from the 1932 Tarzan radio serial starring James Pierce. In the ape language mentioned in the Burroughs' Tarzan novels, "Tarmangani" means "Great White Ape". MGM's Johnny Weismuller films, featuring the now standard yell, had been in production for some time when this serial was created, starting with Tarzan the Ape Man (1932).
The original version of the plot involved muntions runners and government agents, focussing more on the super-explosive formula hidden in the idol. This was re-written during production but some elements remain, such as the otherwise nonsensical final chapter name "Operator 17".
The serial was largely filmed on location in Guatemala. This caused unusual production problems, ranging from the remoteness of the location and the local wildlife to tropical storms and diseases. Some film was damaged by the humid environment of the very real jungle. The cast and crew arrived in Guatemala by ship (The Seattle) but there was no harbour so they had to be shuttled ashore by boats across three miles of sea during a storm. It then took 18 hours to travel the 100 miles to Chichicastenango, on a plateau 8000 miles above sea level. The production then moved on to Lake Atitlan, Tical, and to Guatemala City. According to an interview with Herman Brix in the Christian Science Monitor (1999), "there was only a single sharpshooter up in the trees to keep the croc away from me."
Brix performed his own stunts in the serial, including swinging from real jungle vines, but this presented further problems. Despite testing a vine for safety beforehand with a 200 lb weight, when Brix tried himself, with a run up, he over shot the pool of water he was meant to land in. "I still have the scars from that fall," he told the Monitor.
Additional obstacles came from MGM (they tried to undermine this rival Tarzan product) and the producers' personal lives (Dearholt fell in love with actress Ula Holt and divorced his wife Florence Gilbert to marry her; his ex-wife then married Edgar Rice Burroughs as they had been having their own affair at the same time).
- Crossed Trails
- The Devil's Noose
- River Perils
- Unseen Hands
- Fatal Fangs
- Flaming Waters
- Angry Gods
- Doom's Brink
- Secret Signals
- Death's Fireworks
- Operator 17 -- Re-Cap Chapter
"Brix's portrayal was the only time between the silents and the 1960s that Tarzan was accurately depicted in films. He was mannered, cultured, soft-spoken, a well-educated English lord who spoke several languages, and didn't grunt."
The New Adventures of Tarzan was offered to the cinemas in a variety of formats: a complete seven-reel, 75-minute feature; a seven-reel feature followed by 11 episodes; a 12-chapter serial (the first episode of this format ran 42 minutes). There was also, simultaneously released, a feature film of the same title consisting of this first episode, the cliffhanger resolution in chapter 2, and some new footage which completed the resulting new story. In 1938, a second feature, Tarzan and the Green Goddess, a 72-minute movie, was edited from the last 10 chapters of the serial with added new footage.
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- ERBZine: New Adventures of Tarzan, retrieved 25th June 2007
- Herman Brix obituary at the Washington Post, retrieved 2nd July 2007
- BBC: The New Adventures of Tarzan, retrieved 25th June 2007
- All Movie Guide, retrieved 2nd July 2007
- ERBZine: The Tarzan Yell, retrieved 25th June 2007
- Pressbook material from ERBZine: New Adventures of Tarzan, retrieved 25th June 2007
- Ashton Dearholt biography at the Internet Movie Database, retrieved 25th June 2007
- Template:Imdb title
- Template:Imdb title
- ERBZine #0584: New Adventures of Tarzan
Downloads & online viewing
- The complete film serial at Google Video
- Public Domain version of New Adventures of Tarzan in MPEG format
- Public Domain version of Tarzan and the Green Goddess in MPEG format