Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There Can Be Only One

and unfortunately for Christopher Lambert, that "one" is Johnny Weissmuller. I refer to our movie of the week: Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. I race ahead though.

I can not tell you how much I love watching old Tarzan movies when they were played as the afternoon matinee on tv after school. There were evil hunters, rampaging elephants, Jane got herself in proposterous trouble, and topping it all off Tarzan calling his trademark cry and swinging through vines. Walt Whitman's barbaric yawp has nothing on Tarzan. There was Johnny Weissmuller diving into the waterfall in glorious black and white.

When Greystoke was released in 1984 I enjoyed it a great deal. Ah, the misleading memories of youth. I recently rewatched it and was appalled at how bad most of the acting was. Lambert, as Tarzan does well in the jungle scenes, when his speaking is minimal. In fact, Lambert's woodenness could be brushed aside as the akwardness of a man finding himself in unfamiliar surroundings but for the fact that he is surrounded by wooden and two dimentional characters with the exception of the superlative Ian Holm. Holm portrays Phillipe D'Arnot, the Belgian explorer who finds him.

There was one scene that remained as wonderful as my memory had recalled it. During Tarzan's first formal dinner at Greystoke he mimics accents around the table and then the sounds of various jungle creatures for Jane.

Jane, played by Andie McDowell (and voiced by Glenn Close!), is the most unbelievable part of the movie. McDowell's Jane seems neither physically attracted to Tarzan nor mentally intrigued by Tarzan's knowelge base or intellectual capabilities. Minnie Driver, as the cartoon version of Jane, emoted more and had a more believable attraction to Tarzan.

If you are a big Tarzan fan, go ahead and rent Greystoke; otherwise you are not missing much.

1 comment:

WhidbeyIslander said...

Ah, Tarzan. I remember every kid on the block would swing from a rope attached to a tree limb and try his best to yodel that famous call.

What is fascinating to me today is that the first two Weissmuller movies were completed and released befor the 1934 implementation of the "Hayes Code," and that the second, "Tarzan and his Mate," had a scene with a fully nude Jane. (Unfortunately for us Maureen O'Sullivan fans, it was a body double.)

What I'll always remember though was a stunt where Jane did a swan dive from the deck of their tree house and was caught in the Big Guy's arms.

Man, I wanted to be Tarzan!