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Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968)



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This last entry in the (by far) longest running of the different Tarzan series is hardly a resonant note to go out on. It's instantly forgettable, certainly the weakest of star Mike Henry's three outings, and much of it is rehashed from the previous film, Tarzan and the Great River.

It starts promisingly, however, with a dangerous and exciting contest between a tribal chief's two sons, competing for succession rights. But that plot thread fizzles when it runs into the other plot thread, a search for an infant who was lost in the jungle (much like Tarzan himself) six years before this movie takes place. Yes, this movie makes yet another attempt to fill the long-vacated shoes of Johnny Sheffield, who played Boy opposite Johnny Weissmuller back in the forties. Few of the various Tarzan films that have made such attempts even produced a tolerable young jungle sidekick, let alone a satisfying one, and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy is no exception.

Curiously, Mike Henry shot all three of his Tarzan films before even the first (Tarzan and the Valley of Gold) was released to theaters. They were all shot back-to-back on location, and Henry was increasingly displeased with the work pace. In addition, during his tenure as Tarzan, Henry had been bitten in the face by a chimp and had his chin sewn up with twenty stitches, was plagued by food poisoning and dysentery (as were many others in the crew), contracted an ear infection, and stricken with a virus infection of his liver, all related to shooting on location. After completion of his third film, Mike Henry refused to do more films, turned down a proposed Tarzan television show, and sued producer Sy Weintraub for $800,000 for "maltreatment, abuse, and working conditions detrimental to [his] health and welfare."

Thus ended both Weintraub's and Henry's involvement with Tarzan. The proposed television series, which Weintraub helped launch but was not otherwise involved in, starred Ron Ely and was moderately successful. Four feature films were made from editing multi-part episodes of the show together, and now and then the odd independent Tarzan film gets made, albeit with far less frequency than at any time since the very first Tarzan film in 1918. Tarzan is a modern myth, immortalized by Edgar Rice Burroughs' books and the plethora of films made by the various directors and producers over the years. His legend will never die, but it's unlikely that his popularity will ever equal the phenomenal highs the character saw back in the twenties and thirties.

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