Tarzan 101 | Tarzan of the Films: Miscellaneous

Celebrating Tarzan’s 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin’s Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Griffin actually calls this chapter, “Contemporary Films,” but since the first film discussed was contemporary with the start of Sy Weintraub’s era, I feel like “Miscellaneous” is a better description.

Tarzan the Ape Man (1959)

As the official Tarzan films were transitioning from Sol Lesser to Weintraub, MGM realized that there was a clause in their original contract that allowed them to remake 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man. So they did, casting Denny Miller as a wholesome, blonde Tarzan and Joanna Barnes as Jane.

Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)

MGM remade Tarzan the Ape Man again in 1981, this time with Bo Derek (who’d become a pop icon the previous year in 10) and her husband John. Thanks to the success of 10, MGM had signed the Dereks to a three-picture contract with Tarzan being the first of them. True to the plot of the ’32 film, the movie’s told from Jane’s perspective, but Miles O’Keeffe’s Tarzan is even less verbal than Weissmuller’s. Knowing what the attraction was for Bo Derek fans, the film focuses on the steamy romance between Jane and the silent Tarzan.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1983)

Though Greystoke was released two years after the Dereks’ movie, it had been in the works since 1971, a few years after Weintraub’s last Tarzan film. Producer Stanley S. Canter picked up the option, but had a hard time getting the film made. The original version of the screenplay was an extremely faithful adaptation of the first Tarzan novel, but it was rewritten to keep elements of Burroughs’ story, but ultimately go its own way.

Christopher Lambert played Tarzan, though he’s never called that in the movie (he’s John Clayton instead). Andie MacDowell played Jane, but famously had her lines dubbed by Glenn Close. Ian Holm plays D’Arnot, which makes me want to watch it again right now. Rick Baker created the ape costumes.

Tarzan and the Lost City (1998)

It’s impossible to tell from watching it that Lost City is a sequel to Greystoke, but that’s how it was born. Canter immediately started planning it after the success of Greystoke, wanting this time to combine elements from Burroughs’ novels, The Return of Tarzan and Tarzan the Untamed, where Tarzan tracks a kidnapped Jane through the war-torn jungle.

Like with Greystoke though, it took over a decade to get it off the ground and neither Christopher Lambert nor director Hugh Hudson cared to be involved. Eventually, Canter signed on Carl Schenkel to direct and Casper Van Dien played Tarzan. Jane March played Jane and – true to the original intention for the plot – got abducted so that Tarzan could pursue her.

This was the first – and so far, only – Tarzan film shot entirely on location in Africa (South Africa, to be precise).

Tarzan (1999)

Just kidding. For some reason, Griffin gives a whole, separate chapter to Disney’s adaptation, so we’ll look at that next week.

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan of the Films: The Sy Weintraub Era

Celebrating Tarzan’s 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin’s Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Sol Lesser’s inability to get a Tarzan TV show going may have contributed to his weariness with the series, or maybe it was just that after 25 years and 16 films it was time to be done. Whatever the reason, he sold his option to Sy Weintraub in 1958, including the last two films on Gordon Scott’s contract.

Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959)

Weintraub wasn’t interested in Tarzan as a kiddie series. The first thing he did was get rid of Jane and Boy and relaunch as a gritty, realistic adventure: sort of a Western, but set in the jungle. He also saw how difficult chimpanzees can be to work with when surrounded by the distractions of filming in the wild, so he lost Cheeta too.

The plot is standard Tarzan fare – wicked treasure hunters come to the jungle and cause trouble – but the new Tarzan, though played by a familiar actor, was much more serious and dangerous in the way he handled them. Besides just being a really excellent Tarzan movie, Greatest Adventure is probably best known as one of Sean Connery’s earliest roles as one of the villains.

Tarzan the Magnificent (1960)

Weintraub liked to reuse good actors, so he apparently asked Connery back for Magnificent, but the actor had to turn him down because he was signed up for “some spy picture.” It wouldn’t be the last time James Bond had an effect on the ape man’s films.

Magnificent really made good on the “jungle Western” idea with a plot right out of 3:10 to Yuma or Ride Lonesome. The story has Tarzan trying to escort a bad guy to justice while the villain’s family (the Banton Gang, no less) attempt to liberate their kinsman.

Tarzan Goes to India (1962)

Gordon Scott left the series after Magnificent to go star in Italian sword-and-sandal films, so Weintraub replaced him with the bad guy from Magnificent, stuntman Jock Mahoney.

Starting with this film, Tarzan’s adventures go global and Tarzan becomes more of an international troubleshooter. This was probably too early to be a direct ripoff of Dr. No, also released in 1962, but filming in exotic locations around the world was already a trend in the early ’60s thanks to movies like Spartacus, El Cid, Hatari, and Lawrence of Arabia. Don’t worry though, ripping off Bond would come soon enough.

Tarzan’s Three Challenges (1963)

Mahoney plays the ape man again, this time visiting Thailand to escort a young prince to his new throne.

Tarzan in the Valley of Gold (1966)

Like Lesser, Weintraub had visions of television dancing in his head. Unfortunately for Jock Mahoney, Weintraub didn’t think the 44-year-old actor would go over with TV audiences, so the producer hired Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mike Henry to take his place as the ape man.

By now, Bond Fever was in full effect all over the world, and the Tarzan movies reflected this. I reviewed Valley of Gold for Flick Attack a while ago and talk about this some. I can imagine there are some fun-hating purists who take issue with Tazan’s killing villains with hand-grenade bolas and giant bottles of Coke, but they’re probably not reading this blog, so: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tarzan and the Great River (1967)

Mike Henry is back, this time combining Tarzan and James Bond with the African Queen and Heart of Darkness. I loved this one and reviewed it for Flick Attack as well. As I said there, it’s not as over-the-top awesome as Valley of Gold, but makes up for that by having some great characters and interesting relationships.

Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968)

Sadly, I haven’t seen this one yet, but I can’t imagine not liking it. Judging from the first two, the Mike Henry Tarzan films are my favorites. Unfortunately, shooting three of them back-to-back without any breaks exhausted Henry and he gave up the role after this.

Henry’s leaving is bittersweet, because I like him, but it also opened the door for the next Tarzan who would become the one I grew up. Unlike Sol Lesser, Sy Weintraub’s efforts to get Tarzan on television succeeded and the producer gave up making movies. But we’ll save that for next week.

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan of the Films: The Sol Lesser Era

Celebrating Tarzan’s 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin’s Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

I like how Griffin separates the Tarzan movies into chapters for each era, but as I mentioned last week, that format does present a problem with the years when MGM and Sol Lesser were competing with each other. It’s difficult to figure out from Griffin’s book how many times MGM’s option lapsed and for what reasons, but in Griffin’s defense, Internet research doesn’t make the picture much clearer.

We know that MGM’s initial deal with Burroughs was only for two films, concluding with Tarzan and His Mate in 1934. So that’s the first time their option lapsed. Then, in his chapter on Sol Lesser, Griffin says that it happened again after their third movie, 1936’s Tarzan’s Escape. What he doesn’t say is why.

The best information I can find is from an article on the Lesser film Tarzan’s Revenge at Turner Classic Movies: “According to The New York Times, after MGM had so much trouble making the previous Tarzan film, Tarzan Escapes, which starred Johnny Weissmuller, Sol Lesser made Burroughs a better offer than he had with MGM for the rights to use the character. Burroughs, reportedly, was to get a sum at the start of production and also share in the profits.” That doesn’t explain much, but it does suggest that MGM may have had a negative attitude following Tarzan Escapes.

If you’ll remember, Tarzan Escapes was the film where MGM decided partway through to turn the Tarzan films into a kids’ series. There were other production problems too (including a change in director), so it’s easy to imagine MGM’s growing frustrated and deciding to either end the series or put it on pause for a while. I haven’t been able to learn definitively which of those it was or how Sol Lesser’s rights figure into it.

Lesser originally bought options for five films. He made Tarzan the Fearless in 1933 and Tarzan’s Revenge in 1938. The other three he sold to MGM who made Tarzan Finds a Son, Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, and Tarzan’s New York Adventure. So how did MGM get the right to make Tarzan Escapes? Did Burroughs negotiate a one-off contract for them? That’s as close as I can figure, but I can’t confirm it.

The feature film version of Tarzan the Fearless contains the first four chapters of the serial, but they’ve been edited-all-to-hell and are nearly unwatchable, which is too bad, because it looks fun and, hey, Buster Crabbe. Tarzan’s Revenge is almost unwatchable too, but that’s just because it sucks. If you’re interested though, both films can be purchased in a single collection on DVD.

Once we’re past Tarzan’s New York Adventure, figuring out the history of Tarzan films is smooth sailing. With Maureen O’Sullivan interested in leaving the series and MGM’s running out of story ideas, the studio relinquished the rights and Lesser stepped in, picking up Johnny Weissmuller and Johnny Sheffield’s contracts as well. Predictably, Maureen O’Sullivan didn’t return, but Lesser held her spot open for a couple of films and wrote Jane out in a way that could be undone later.

Here’s the rundown of the rest of Lesser’s Tarzan films. The first six with Johnny Weismuller are collected together in a DVD box set:

Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

A propaganda film with Tarzan and Boy helping a lost city fight Nazis. Eventually. There’s some analogy to the U.S.’s wanting to stay out of WWII, which leads to a genuinely thrilling moment when Tarzan finally decides to go to war.

Jane is written out as being in England to visit her sick mother, which makes it creepy when Tarzan flirts with another woman, but all in all, it’s a great adventure film.

Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943)

Jane’s still in England (stuck there because of the war), but the film makes the most of it by having that be the catalyst for the plot. Jane’s working in a hospital that could use a jungle remedy for its patients. Tarzan crosses a desert to find the right plants, but gets pulled into some intrigue surrounding a shiek and a European racketeer. It’s a fun spy movie and a huge change of pace for the series.

Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

By this time, Lesser had given up on O’Sullivan’s ever coming back, so he cast Brenda Joyce as a new, blonde Jane.

Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946)

Acquanetta leads a leopard cult.

Tarzan and the Huntress (1947)

Tarzan vs. unscrupulous trappers.

Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)

Weissmuller’s last time playing Tarzan and Lesser’s first time using location shooting (in Mexico). As you can see from the titles above, Lesser liked having Tarzan team up with or face off against women. This time it’s Linda Christian (who played the Vesper character – renamed Valerie Mathis – in the Barry Nelson Casino Royale on American TV) as a young woman who’s being forced by an oppressive high priest to marry someone she doesn’t want to.

After Mermaids, Lesser decided not to renew Johnny Weissmuller’s contract (Griffin implies that it may have been because of Weissmuller’s age). Johnny Sheffield also left the series to star in the Bomba the Jungle Boy movies, while Weissmuller would go on to play comic strip hero Jungle Jim (who was created by Flash Gordon’s creator, Alex Raymond).

Lesser cast Lex Barker for the next five films, collected in a box set on DVD:

Tarzan’s Magic Fountain (1949)

Inspired by the novel Tarzan’s Quest, Tarzan’s Magic Fountain has the ape man protecting a fountain of youth from outsiders. Though the Tarzan was new, Brenda Joyce played Jane one last time, creating some continuity with the last few Weissmuller films. From this point on, Tarzan would have a different Jane every time. Magic Fountain also features a cameo by silent film Tarzan, Elmo Lincoln, who also played a roustabout in Tarzan’s New York Adventure.

Tarzan and the Slave Girls (1950)

Vanessa Brown plays Jane and gets kidnapped with some other women as “brides” for a villainous tribe.

Tarzan’s Peril (1951)

The first Tarzan film shot on location in East Africa features the ape man fighting some gunrunners. Jane is played by Virginia Huston in this one, but stays offscreen for most of it. Lesser wanted this one to be shown in Technicolor, but some of the location footage was ruined and the film had to be released in black-and-white.

Tarzan’s Savage Fury (1952)

This time Jane is Dorothy Hart as Tarzan battles a couple of treasure hunters. Again.

Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953)

Raymond Burr plays in this as one of a couple of ivory poachers working for a powerful woman. Joyce MacKenzie played Jane.

Lex Barker felt he was getting typecast, so with his contract completed he declined to sign on for any more Tarzan films. Lesser hired bodybuilder Gordon Scott to replace him for the next six films, though Lesser would only produce three of them. The entire Gordon Scott collection is of course available on DVD.

Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955)

Jack Elam is one of a couple of evil animal trappers in the final black-and-white Tarzan film. This one has no Jane, but Vera Miles plays a nurse and potential romantic interest.

Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957)

RKO had distributed Lesser’s Tarzan films up to here, but starting with Lost Safari, MGM agreed to do it. Like Magic Fountain, Lost Safari borrowed elements from Burroughs’ novel, Tarzan’s Quest, specifically the part about Tarzan’s leading a diverse group of travelers through the jungle when their plane crashes. It was shot in color on location in East Africa. Jane is again absent.

Tarzan’s Fight for Life (1958) 

Jane returns to the series, now played by Eve Brent. Lesser also added a new adopted son, named Tantu and played by Ricky Sorensen. Lesser put the family back together in hopes of taking Tarzan to TV. He filmed a pilot, which became the 1958 TV movie, Tarzan and the Trappers (with Sorensen now called Boy), but sadly, no one wanted it.

Disappointed by his inability to get Tarzan on TV, Lesser sold the series – including Scott’s contract – to producers Sy Weintraub and Harvey Hayutin. And that’s where we’ll pick up next week.

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan of the Films: Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises

Celebrating Tarzan’s 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin’s Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

MGM’s Tarzan films did a lot for the character’s popularity, but they were a mixed blessing. While Burroughs had insisted that the studio create an original story for Tarzan of the Apes, he perhaps didn’t count on their also dramatically changing the character and certainly didn’t foresee that theirs would become the more popular version. The MGM films overshadowed the novels in terms of public appeal and Johnny Weissmuller became the Tarzan for most people. Naturally, that irked Burroughs.

To explain what he did about it, I need to clarify something I wrote last week about MGM’s interest in the series. I said that MGM “thought they exhausted themselves after Tarzan Escapes and […] let their rights elapse […], but changed their minds and kept going.” That’s not entirely accurate. Since Griffin separates each film “era” into its own chapter, it’s difficult to see how MGM, Sol Lesser, and Burroughs’ activities affected each other, and some details fall through the cracks between chapters. So I got the information about MGM’s letting its rights lapse from Wikipedia (shame on me), which claims that:

MGM had originally let the film rights elapse after Tarzan Escapes feeling there was little more mileage in the series [emphasis mine]. Independent producer Sol Lesser obtained the rights to make five Tarzan movies, but the first of these, Tarzan’s Revenge, proved to be a flop. The blame was placed on audiences unwilling to accept Glenn Morris in the role made famous by Johnny Weissmuller. (Lesser had been unable to obtain Weissmuller’s services as he remained under contract at MGM.) Ironically, this opened MGM’s eyes to the continuing power of Weissmuller as Tarzan and they bought out Lesser’s interest in the next three films, and restarted their series.

That’s almost entirely crap. It’s much more complicated than that and Wikipedia is combining various events into one story. I’m getting ahead of myself by sharing some of Lesser’s story, but it helps understand what Burroughs did since all of this went on at the same time. Here’s what happened as far as I can reconstruct it.

According to ERBzine, MGM’s initial contract with Burroughs was signed in 1931 and was for just two pictures, starting with 1932’s Tarzan of the Apes. Griffin’s section on Sol Lesser (which we’ll cover next week) adds that Lesser had bought out an old contract from a couple of producers who’d signed a five-picture deal with Burroughs, but never produced any films. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, Lesser was apparently entitled to make his film or films first, but either MGM paid him to delay production or he allowed MGM to go ahead, knowing that their budget and publicity machine would create more interest in Tarzan movies, including – he hoped – his own. No one’s really sure which and possibly it was both.

Lesser’s first film wasn’t 1938’s Tarzan’s Revenge as Wikipedia claims, but a 1933 serial, Tarzan the Fearless starring Buster Crabbe. It did indeed fail, and we’ll look next week at why that was. We’ll also look at Lesser’s second Tarzan film, Tarzan’s Revenge and why it also failed.

In 1934, MGM released its second film, Tarzan and His Mate, completing its contract, and here’s where we get to Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises. Burroughs took advantage of the end of MGM’s contract by forming his own movie studio and releasing a 12-episode Tarzan serial that was more faithful to the literary version. His buddy Ashton Dearholt produced and directed 1935’s The New Adventures of Tarzan and also played the villain. Herman Brix played Tarzan. I reviewed it several years ago in three parts and liked it a lot, especially the character of Ula Vale, a heroic woman who gets pulled into the story, stays involved because it’s the right thing to do, and even rescues Tarzan a few times. Brix makes an excellent Tarzan and while New Adventures isn’t completely faithful to Burroughs’ novels, it gets really close. It’s well worth checking out.

Unfortunately for Burroughs’ new studio, he was in desperate need of cash. Most of New Adventures was shot in Guatemala, which was more expensive than anyone foresaw. Burroughs was also in the process of divorcing his first wife and marrying his second, so he was strapped financially. To get immediate money, he re-optioned MGM’s contract for a third movie, Tarzan Escapes.

He also got some dough ($25-50,000 per film) for approving the sale of some of Sol Lesser’s options to MGM, but I’m not clear on the timeline for that. ERBzine says it was during the production of New Adventures, so around 1934-35, but Turner Classic Movies suggests that it was later, after the failure of Tarzan’s Revenge in 1938. Regardless of when it happened, Lesser sold the three unused films from his original five-picture contract to MGM, who turned them into Tarzan Finds a Son, Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, and Tarzan’s New York Adventure.

Whether or not MGM already had the last three film options when New Adventures came out, it certainly didn’t want want to dilute audience interest in 1936’s Tarzan’s Escape. So, MGM flexed its muscles and kept New Adventures out of the top-tier theaters in the United States. It did well in Europe, but Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises wouldn’t make another Tarzan film and only released three more pictures, all in 1936: a crime drama (The Drag-Net), a Western (The Phantom of Santa Fe), and an Alaskan wilderness adventure (Tundra).

We’ll pick up the MGM-Burroughs-Lesser saga next week with 1938 and a closer look at Tarzan’s Revenge.

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan of the Films: The MGM Era

Celebrating Tarzan’s 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin’s Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Though the silent Tarzan movies were popular and profitable, it wasn’t until MGM stepped in that Tarzan became a bona fide film icon. In 1930, the studio released a wildly (pun intended) popular movie called Trader Horn. It stirred the U.S. public’s interest in Africa in a way not even the Tarzan novels themselves had accomplished and was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, but it also influenced Tarzan in a couple of significant ways. The production of the film inspired Burroughs’ novel Tarzan and the Lion Man, while its success inspired MGM to pursue the film rights for Tarzan movies. After all, MGM had somewhere near a million feet of location footage shot for Trader Horn and needed a way to use it. (Incidentally, the on-location safari filming of Trader Horn also inspired the creation of another movie icon, filmmaker Carl Denham from King Kong.)

MGM of course cast five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. He wasn’t trained as an actor, but that wasn’t a problem. At Burroughs’ suggestion (insistence?) MGM didn’t base their movies on the novels, but came up with a whole new storyline featuring a less intelligent (but no less clever or charming), monosyllabic Tarzan. Newly discovered Maureen O’Sullivan was cast as Jane and the rest is history. Like with the silents, I’ll do a brief rundown of the MGM films, all six of which can be found in The Tarzan Collection, Volume 1.

Tarzan of the Apes (1932)

Departs from the novels in several ways, including telling the whole story from Jane’s point of view. Co-stars Neal Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon from the ’60s Batman TV show) as a friend of Jane’s father and a (not very strong, admittedly) rival for Tarzan’s interest in her. The famous Tarzan yell was created using a human voice (Griffin doesn’t specify whether or not it was Weissmuller’s, but there’s no reason it needed to be) that was sweetened by sound engineers, possibly with the help of some sort of woodwind instrument.

Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Apes‘ success yielded a sequel and continued the story of the first film with the return of Neal Hamilton’s character. It stands up excellently next to the first one (some argue that it’s even better and I won’t fight them on it), but is also infamous for including a scene of Jane skinny dipping (using Olympic swimmer Josephine McKim as O’Sullivan’s body double). The Hays Office’s Motion Picture Production Code was just finding its legs at the time and used Mate to demonstrate and solidify its power. The filmmakers were forced to reshoot the scene with Jane wearing clothes and the Hays Office went on to prohibit onscreen nudity and “suggestiveness”.

Tarzan Escapes (1936)

Originally titled The Capture of Tarzan, this film got toned down during production, including the removal of huge devil-bats that were decided to be too scary for kids. From that point on, the Tarzan movies were considered by the filmmakers as being primarily for kids. This is also the film that introduces Tarzan’s awesome, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, so there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just that there’s a remarkable difference between the first two MGM Tarzan movies and the last four.

Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

Cementing the series’ identity as children’s fare, MGM introduced a young boy character. Since Tarzan and Jane weren’t legally married, the kid couldn’t be theirs by childbirth, so they find him in a crashed airplane. Interestingly, he’s a Greystoke heir, though that part of Tarzan’s heritage is never brought up in the MGM movies. Five-year-old Johnny Sheffield was cast as Boy (Tarzan’s first choice for his name was “Elephant,” but Jane put her foot down). By this time, O’Sullivan was getting tired of playing Jane and wanted out of the series (she was also pregnant at the time and looking forward to starting a family). In order to accommodate her, the filmmakers included a death scene for Jane, but preview audiences hated it and the movie was changed last minute so that Jane survived.

Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941)

Griffin doesn’t mention it and I couldn’t find any information on how MGM got Maureen O’Sullivan back for this film. They were obviously willing to let her go after Tarzan Finds a Son and I don’t know why they couldn’t have just written her out between movies. If anyone knows, please share in the comments. However they did it, she’s back. Other than that, there’s not a lot remarkable about this one. It’s fun, but doesn’t add anything new to the series.

Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942)

You can tell that MGM’s running out of ideas by this time. They’d actually thought they exhausted themselves after Tarzan Escapes and even let their rights elapse at that time, but changed their minds (more on that next week) and kept going. For this one, they uproot Tarzan’s family and transplant them in New York City for a fish-out-of-water adventure. They got this one last appearance out of O’Sullivan by telling her she could wear modern clothing instead of her leather dress.

It wasn’t O’Sullivan’s leaving the series that killed it, but other factors caused MGM to dump Tarzan. First, they truly were out of ideas for what to do next, but probably more important was WWII and the loss of opportunities to show the movies in other countries. But even though MGM was done with Tarzan, Johnnies Weissmuller and Sheffield weren’t.

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan of the Films: Silents

Celebrating Tarzan’s 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin’s Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Griffin’s book covers a lot of ground in the chapters on the movies. He details the deals that led to each picture, interesting facts about their release and publicity, and the backgrounds and later careers of the various actors who played Tarzan and Jane. There’s no way I can do Griffin justice, so I’m opting for a quick checklist with some useful information about each film.

  • The Lad and the Lion (1917; lost): Not really a Tarzan film, but based on a Burroughs story and served as a sort of test run for filming actors with live animals.
  • Tarzan of the Apes (1918): Starring Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan and Enid Markey as Jane. Child actor Gordon Griffith played Tarzan as a boy. The film only covers the first half of Burroughs’ first Tarzan novel and about half the film appears to be lost. The surviving parts have been edited together as a special feature on Tarzan, Lord of the Louisiana Jungle, Al Bohl’s documentary about the making of the film.
  • The Romance of Tarzan (1918; lost): Again starring Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan and Enid Markey as Jane. A direct sequel to Tarzan of the Apes that tells the second half of Burroughs’ first novel. The movie’s production was a shady deal because the studio (National Film Corporation) was only supposed to do one film, but after the success of Tarzan of the Apes used a loophole in the contract to make Romance since it was adapted from the same book they’d bought the rights to.
  • The Revenge of Tarzan (1920; lost): Starring Gene Pollar as Tarzan and Karla Schramm as Jane. Produced by Numa Pictures, this was what Burroughs wanted to be the second Tarzan movie, an adaptation of The Return of Tarzan. It was renamed Revenge when theaters mistook Return as meaning that it was a re-release of Tarzan of the Apes
  • The Son of Tarzan (1920): A 15-chapter serial starring P. Dempsey Tabler as Tarzan, Karla Schramm as Jane, Gordon Griffith as young Korak, and Kamuela Searle as mature Korak. Adapts the novel of the same name.
  • The Adventures of Tarzan (1921; 5 chapters are lost): A 15-chapter serial starring Elmo Lincoln again as Tarzan and Louise Lorraine as Jane. Based on the second half of the novel, The Return of Tarzan. First movie appearance of La of Opar (Lillian Worth).
  • Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927): Starring Jim Pierce (Burroughs’ hand-picked actor who would go on to marry Burroughs’ daughter and also play Tarzan for radio) as Tarzan and Dorothy Dunbar as Jane. Adapts the movie of the same name and features Boris Karloff in one of his earliest roles as a native chief. 
  • Tarzan the Mighty (1929; lost): A 15-chapter serial starring Frank Merrill as Tarzan. It was loosely based on Jungle Tales of Tarzan and didn’t feature Jane. Instead, Natalie Kingston played a love-interest named Mary Trevor.
  • Tarzan the Tiger (1929): A 15-chapter serial again starring Frank Merrill as Tarzan. Natalie Kingston is back, but this time she’s playing Jane in an adaptation of Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. Kithnou plays La of Opar. The last silent Tarzan film, Tiger was released in a semi-sound version with dubbed sound effects, including the first Tarzan yell (not quite the Weissmuller version, but historic nevertheless).