Saturday, February 14, 2009

This Week's Classic Kids' Movie

In this week's classic kids' movie focus, we go with the excellent Tarzan series. These were quite often on television when I was a kid, on Saturday or Sunday mornings, but I can't remember the last time I caught one on TV. What happened to programming great old movies for kids on weekend mornings? My parents would snooze away while my sisters and I watched Tarzan, or Abbott and Costello, or Ma and Pa Kettle (ok, there's some ancient history for you).

There were six MGM Tarzan films made between 1932 and 1942, starring Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane. Having seen a handful of them over the years, I’ll stick to these, although there were more titles to follow (mostly for RKO, and without Maureen O’Sullivan). 1943’s Tarzan Triumphs was the largest grossing of the post-MGM films. No wonder, as Tarzan was fighting Nazis and of course, World War II was in full bloom ... movie fans were desperate for heroes.

What follows is a list of the MGM films, and any one of them should make fine Sunday afternoon viewing (we’re still in bitter cold winter mode here; maybe in your world being inside on Sunday is just wrong).

Remember that there is some violence in these films (a stabbing here and there in particular), menacing bad guys and man-eating crocodiles. And then there’s this trivia tidbit about Tarzan and His Mate, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The infamous scene with Jane skinny dipping (her clothes were snagged on a tree branch and pulled off, as Tarzan threw her playfully into the water) was initially cut by the Production Code Administration when the film was first released but was restored in 1986 by Turner Entertainment for its video release. Maureen O'Sullivan did not play the naked Jane in the scene. Instead she was doubled by Olympic swimmer Josephine McKim, who competed in the 1928 games with Johnny Weissmuller.

(The scene is fairly long and memorable. Also of note, in 2003, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.)

  • Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
  • Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
  • Tarzan Escapes (1936)
  • Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
  • Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941)
  • Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942)

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