Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Johnny Weissmuller & Maureen Sullivan

All things considered “Tarzan and His Mate” is probably the most entertaining Tarzan film in cinematic history. Of course, one of the things that we are considering here is the celebrated nude swim by Jane. Between Jane’s skimpy jungle outfit and the clear sexual relationship she enjoys with Tarzan, this film bears the burden as much as any other for bringing the Hays Office into being. Ironically, today we would find Tarzan and Jane’s version of jungle love to be relatively tame and it would be all the animals that were hurt making this film that would upset people.

This 1934 film is a sequel to Johnny Weissmuller‘s first effort as the lord of the jungle in 1932’s “Tarzan the Ape Man.” A hunting expedition is moving through the African jungle, searching for the legendary burial ground of the elephants in the Mutia Escarpment. Explorer Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) is serving as the guide for his friend, the British adventurer Marlin Arlington (Paul Cavanaugh). Arlington is after the ivory, but Holt wants to win back Jane and take her away from the jungle back to civilization.

What makes “Tarzan and His Mate” so interesting is that the film is more about Jane and her reasons for living in the jungle. This allows Jane to comment on the troubles of civilization, but her bigger argument is that she loves Tarzan and she knows he would never survive in the civilized world.

Maureen O’Sullivan did not play the underwater naked Jane,  she was doubled by olympic swimmer Josephine MacKim, who competed in the 1928 games with Johnny Weissmuller.

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