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Film / Tarzan and His Mate

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Tarzan and His Mate is a 1934 film directed by Cedric Gibbons, starring Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane.

It's the second of twelve films in the Weissmüller Tarzan series, and a direct sequel to the first film, Tarzan the Ape Man. In this one, an old suitor of Jane's, Harry Holt, has come back to Africa. Harry has two goals. The first is to try to talk Jane into leaving Tarzan and her idealized jungle existence and coming back to London and civilization with him. The second is to find an elephants' graveyard of ivory and make a lot of money (which was both his and Jane's goal in the first film before encountering Tarzan). Coming along with him and mainly interested in the second goal only is Martin Arlington, a broke British aristocrat who has put the last of his money into the expedition.


Eventually Holt and Arlington are successful in contacting Tarzan and Jane. Holt quickly gives up on his hopes for Jane when she makes it clear that she is not interested in going home and wishes to remain with Tarzan. The second goal also runs into difficulties when Tarzan, once he is told just why Holt and Arlington want to go to the graveyard, refuses to lead them there. Arlington, unwilling to take no for an answer, mortally wounds an elephant so the safari can follow it to the graveyard. When Tarzan intervenes to stop them, Arlington takes even more drastic action.



  • Call-Back: To the death of Jane's father at the same elephant graveyard in the first Tarzan movie, Tarzan, the Ape Man. Jane goes to her father's grave, removes a bracelet that was buried just under the surface next to the grave, and gives it to Tarzan.
  • The Cavalry: The safari is about to get wiped out by hostile apes in the mountains when Tarzan appears and saves it.
  • Clothing Damage: Naturally, when Jane puts on a dress it's only for the skirt to get caught and torn while she's trying to climb a tree to escape from a rhino.
  • Damsel in Distress: Jane tends to serve this role a lot, when she isn't providing Fanservice. Over the course of the film Tarzan has to rescue her from a lion, a cheetah, a crocodile, and a rhino.
  • Darkest Africa: The "Mutia Escarpment" is a ridgeline that marks the boundary of an area where "no white man" has ever been except for Holt, who still needs Tarzan to help him get there. Angry natives try and stop him.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The reason that Holt has to depend on Tarzan in the first place is that two other white explorers, Pierce and Van Ness, steal his map. Holt and Arlington later find the corpses of Pierce and Van Ness hanging from trees. This motivates them to run for the escarpment rather than stand and fight as Pierce and Van Ness did.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Tarzan, as usual, but now Jane joins him in living barefoot (by the next film, Tarzan Escapes, Jane is regularly seen in the films wearing a protective type of shoe).
  • Elephant Graveyard: What Holt and Arlington want to find, for the priceless ivory. Tarzan is appalled when he is told why he's been asked to guide them through the jungle. After he refuses to lead them, Arlington shoots an elephant and the party follows the elephant as it makes its way to the graveyard to die.
  • Evil Poacher: Arlington. We first see this when he murders a reluctant porter, an act that shocks even Holt, who himself seems to regard the porters as little more than pack animals. Later he kills an elephant to find his way to the graveyard, and still later he tries to kill Tarzan.
  • Going Native: It's clear right off the bat that Jane is all-in on living in the jungle when she is introduced answering Tarzan's "ah-aaah aah aah" yodel with one of her own.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: Naturally, Cheeta snatches up Jane's dress while she's skinnydipping with Tarzan, leading to a scene where Jane has to get the dress back. Of course, as the dialogue makes clear, the presence of outsiders is the only reason she cares.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One of the chimps distracts a charging rhino in order to save Jane, and gets stomped to death in the process.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Although all the Weissmüller/O'Sullivan films are loaded to the gills with UST, this installment, when one adds in the Fanservice aspects, is generally considered the sexiest of all the Tarzan films made prior to 1981's R-rated and intentionally erotic Tarzan, the Ape Man starring Bo Derek.
  • Jungle Drums: When the safari hears the beating of jungle drums as they're attempting to leave, it's a sure sign of trouble. Sure enough, just moments later they're attacked by another hostile tribe.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: The Tarzan franchise as a whole was the trope maker, using the kookaburra to suggest African jungle.
  • Loincloth: Tarzan wears one. So does Jane, although she pairs it with a leather halter top. Future installments of the series put more clothing on Jane.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Tarzan as always, Johnny Weissmuller showing off the physique of an Olympic swimmer, but his loincloth would never get smaller than in this edition of the series.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Made at the tail-end of The Pre-Code Era, and they really pushed the limits with Maureen O'Sullivan. Jane spends most of the movie half-naked in a halter top and loincloth, except for when she actually is naked in the skinny-dipping scene, and the one time she puts on a Western-style dress it's a Sexy Backless Outfit. In later films after the Hays Code was enforced, Jane wore a one-piece loincloth.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Arlington shoots a porter who refuses to go on. Holt recoils, saying "A whip would have done just as well."
  • Repeat After Me: Holt introduces Arlington to Tarzan as "Martin, my friend." Tarzan spends the rest of the movie addressing Arlington as "Martin Myfriend."
  • Scenery Censor: Even when filming a skinnydipping scene MGM wasn't willing to show Maureen O'Sullivan naked out of the water, so Jane is hidden by some tall brush when retrieving her dress from Cheeta.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Just a little bit more Fanservice, as the dress that Harry brings for Jane to try on is just such an ensemble.
  • Sexy Silhouette: Jane is fully visible inside the tent when she's changing into the fancy dress. Arlington the slimeball enjoys the view.
  • Silly Simian: Cheeta the chimpanzee provides comic relief, like when she tries on the fancy dresses brought for Jane. She rides an ostrich!
  • Skinnydipping: A film made in 1934 has a scene in which Jane takes a nude swim with Tarzan. And there's an underwater camera. It's shot from a distance, but the viewer can still see everything.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Jane does this after Arlington is wounded by an arrow that turns out to be poison. Arlington enjoys it.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The native porters are slaves. Holt and Arlington are generally unconcerned when eight die along the way. Both of them as well as their foreman Saidi use whips to drive the porters along.
  • Tempting Fate: After fighting off some hostile natives the safari is struggling over a mountain pass. Holt says "Well, I hope we've got the worst behind us" and Arlington answers "We have!" This is immediately followed by a bunch of gorillas appearing at the top of the pass and raining boulders down on their party. The safari appears to be on the verge of total destruction when when Tarzan appears, nearly a half hour into the film, and saves the day.
  • Theiss Titillation Theory: In-Universe. Discussed Trope, as Arlington observes the flimsy dresses Holt has brought for Jane and says "The effect seems to be to promise to show something that is never quite shown."
  • Timmy in a Well: Cheeta does this twice. First, some jumping and hooting and yanking on Jane's arm is enough to get Jane to understand that in fact Tarzan is still alive. Then more hooting and yanking gets Tarzan to understand that Jane needs help.
  • Vapor Wear: How Jane's dressed, as usual.
  • Vine Swing: How Tarzan and Jane get around, with Jane having gotten as good at it as Tarzan has. One acrobatic scene has Tarzan flip Jane to Cheeta, with the chimp then flipping Jane to safety on a tree branch.