Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

About a year after the events of Tarzan the Ape Man, Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) returns to the African jungle with Martin Arlington to go back to the elephant graveyard to gather some ivory.  But Harry isn’t just hoping to go home with some ivory.  He’s still in love with Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) and wants to convince her to come back with him.  In hopes of winning her over, he’s brought along lots of beautiful clothes, stockings, perfume, and records to remind her of all the things she’s missing back in civilization.

Since Harry has made the trip before, he knows one thing for sure — they won’t be able to make it to the elephant graveyard without help from Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller).  They set out on their expedition and naturally, it’s very treacherous.  Eventually they meet up with Tarzan and Jane and despite Jane very firmly insisting that she’ll never leave Tarzan, Harry tries winning her over anyway.  He shows her all the fashionable gowns he brought for her and although they are tempting, Jane has become too fond of jungle life and of Tarzan. The expedition continues and Tarzan is only too happy to help them along the way.  At least he is until he finds out that they’re planning to take ivory from the elephant graveyard.  After that, he wants nothing to do with them. But Martin is determined to get to that elephant graveyard and shoots one of Tarzan’s elephant friends, knowing it would go there to die so they could follow it. 

The plan works, but before they can take any of the ivory, Tarzan and Jane come charging in with a herd of elephants to put a stop to it.  To get him off their case, Martin and Harry say they won’t take any ivory with them when they leave, but the next day, Martin shoots Tarzan and leaves him for dead.  When Jane realizes Tarzan is missing, everyone searches for him, but can’t find him anywhere.  She can’t help but fear the worst when Martin tells her he’s dead.  With no other option, a heartbroken Jane starts to head back with the expedition party.  But along the way, Cheeta comes to tell Jane that Tarzan is still alive after all!  He had been found by some chimpanzees who nursed him back to health.  She goes to find him, but the expedition party is suddenly attacked by a native tribe.  Just when it looks like this is really the end for Jane, sure enough, Tarzan comes swinging in on a vine to rescue her.

Tarzan and His Mate is one of those rare sequels that is just as good, if not better, than the original.  It’s got all the action, adventure, and hilarious rear projection shots that made Tarzan, the Ape Man entertaining, but with even more risqué pre-code stuff.  There’s lots of innuendo between Jane, Harry, and Martin.  Maureen O’Sullivan spends most of the movie wearing next to nothing, or in one memorable scene, nothing at all. Surprisingly, for once, the skimpy outfits and gratuitous undressing aren’t only for the women.  Johnny Weissmuller isn’t wearing very much either and early in the film, there’s a gratuitous shot of a man getting undressed and sitting in a bath.  This is my favorite of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films.  Anything after this one is a little hit or miss, but Tarzan, the Ape Man and Tarzan and His Mate are the two Tarzan movies most worth seeing.

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3 comments

  1. I agree that this is about the best of the Weissmuller Tarzans. Surprisingly, after the Production Code crackdown, Maureen O’Sullivan was all covered up in her costumes, but Weissmuller was still allowed his skimpy loincloth!

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. This is my favorite of all the Tarzan films. TARZAN THE APE MAN coming in second. I’d only seen it without the nude swimming sequence until very recently. When I did see it restored I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. Was that really Maureen O’Sullivan? I wondered. At any rate, love this film. Hate the smarmy villain. Boo! Hiss!!!

    1. It really is a beautifully shot scene. Until you asked, I wasn’t sure if they used a body double for that scene or not, but I checked IMDB and they do list a body double for Maureen O’Sullivan while swimming. Josephine McKim sure made Maureen O’Sullivan look good in that scene!

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