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TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934)

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Discussion before

In his sole outing as a director, MGM’s legendary art director, Cedric Gibbons, created the most pictorially beautiful, sexy and romantic of all the Tarzan films. When it was released 85 years ago, the picture drew attacks from censors because of Tarzan and Jane’s abbreviated costumes and a lengthy nude swimming scene (with Olympic gold medalist Josephine McKim joining Johnny Weissmuller underwater in place of series star Maureen O’Sullivan). The latter was eventually cut from the film, not to be restored until archivists found it in the MGM vaults in the 1990s. Gibbons actually had to be replaced by Jack Conway, because he was too busy supervising the studio’s art department. O’Sullivan would later state many scenes were shot by the film’s animal supervisor, James C. McKay. The second film in MGM’s Tarzan series focused on the relationship between the title characters now that Jane was living with him in the jungle (without benefit of marriage, since she’s listed in the credits as Jane Parker, her maiden name). Their jungle paradise is threatened by the arrival of hunters in search of a legendary elephant burial ground, leading to some impressive action scenes, including a fight between an elephant herd and a pack of lions. (d. Cedric Gibbons, 104m, 35mm)

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