Cast & Crew
When the plane carrying Richard Lancing and his family crashes over the African jungle, the lone survivor is Lancing's infant son, whom jungle inhabitants Tarzan and Jane find and rear as their own. Five years after they find the child, whom they call "Boy," Jane is just beginning to realize that the jungle is a dangerous place in which to rear a mischevious boy when a safari led by Sir Thomas Lancing arrives in search of his missing relatives. After finding the plane wreckage, Sir Thomas insists upon continuing the search, although his greedy cousin Austin, who stands to inherit half the vast Lancing estate once Richard is declared dead, is content to accept Jane's explanation that Richard, his wife and child perished in the crash. Sir Thomas is unconvinced, however, and when he notices the resemblance between Boy and the Lancing family, Austin and his snooty wife propose that they take the boy as their ward, thus ensuring their control over the Lancing estate. When Thomas objects, Austin orders him held prisoner and convinces Jane to give the boy up. Going against Tarzan's wishes, Jane traps him in a grotto and brings the boy to the Lancings. As Jane leads the expedition through the jungle, Thomas warns Jane of Boy's danger, but Austin kills him before he can go for help. Soon after, the expedition is captured by a band of savage cannibals and Jane risks her own life so that Boy can escape. Boy survives the perils of the jungle to free Tarzan, and they return with an army of elephants to trample the cannibal village. Tarzan then forgives Jane, and the reunited family returns home.
J. D. Jewkes
Tarzan Finds a Son
While Burroughs' tales had no moral viewpoint on Tarzan and Jane having a son of their own, Hollywood's Production Code was more leery of their somewhat nontraditional family arrangement. As a result, the screenplay of Tarzan Finds a Son! opens with a fateful plane ride to Cape Town for the little family of Richard Lancing (Morton Lowry), the heir apparent to the title and fortunes of the earl of Greystoke. (This would be the only time that the MGM Tarzan films would make a reference to Tarzan's aristocratic roots, a detail from Burroughs' novels.) The aircraft crashes in the proximity of Tarzan and Jane's jungle abode, leaving Lancing's infant son as the sole survivor. After the ape-man retrieves the foundling, the immediately smitten Jane urges his adoption.
In the five years that pass, the child develops his adoptive father's facility at swinging through the trees and giving out with the familiar jungle call, as well as a penchant for getting himself into danger. The idyll is eventually interrupted by a safari mounted by Lancing's uncle Thomas (Henry Stephenson), desperate for some clue as to the survival of his nephew's family. Along for the trip is the conniving Austin Lancing (Ian Hunter) and his wife (Frieda Inescort), who stand to inherit the Greystoke fortune. Thomas wears down Jane's effort to conceal Boy's identity; Austin, with control of the estate as his motive, wheedles her into believing that a return to civilization would be in his best interests. His machinations lead to a betrayal of Tarzan by Jane, and the departing safari's capture by a savage tribe, setting up a rousing rescue attempt courtesy of Tarzan & Son.
While a handsome-looking production, the costs of Tarzan Finds a Son! were kept at a tidy $880,000, thanks to the extensive use of stock footage from earlier series entries as well as from Trader Horn (1931). Sheffield, seven years old at the time of filming, won the role - with Weissmuller's approval - that over 300 youngsters had tested for. Their rapport was evident in the striking underwater sequences shot in Silver Springs, Florida, as they frolicked with a baby elephant and sea turtle. "Big John developed a strong affection for Little John (as he would be called), and they were close during the decade in which they filmed their eight Tarzan pictures together," David Fury recounted in his comprehensive Kings of the Jungle: An Illustrated Reference to Tarzan on Screen and Television (McFarland & Company).
As originally conceived, Tarzan Finds a Son! was supposed to mark O'Sullivan's departure from the series, with Jane sustaining a lethal spear wound in the climactic sequence. The beautiful actress was prepped to put her career on hiatus for family; she was pregnant with her first child by director John Farrow during production, and she was frequently shot above the waist or holding a conveniently placed prop in order to conceal her impending motherhood. It didn't take many test screenings for MGM to feel the swell of fan outrage, however, and a happy ending with a recovered Jane was substituted. O'Sullivan would ultimately team twice more with Weissmuller and Sheffield, in Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) and Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), before abandoning the role for good.
Producer: Sam Zimbalist
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Cyril Hume
Cinematography: Leonard Smith
Film Editing: Gene Ruggiero, Frank Sullivan
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: William Axt, Sol Levy
Cast: Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Ian Hunter (Mr. Austin Lancing), Laraine Day (Mrs. Richard Lancing), Henry Stephenson (Sir Thomas Lancing).
by Jay S. Steinberg
Tarzan Finds a Son
The Tarzan Collection on DVD - Tarzan on DVD
George Feltenstein, WHV's VP Classic Catalog, notes, "Olympic gold medallist Johnny Weissmuller and the incredibly beautiful and talented Maureen O'Sullivan are certainly the definitive Tarzan and Jane. They were also the most popular and most memorable to portray Edgar Rice Burroughs' jungle hero and heroine, paving the way for future interpretations like Hugh Hudson's and Bo Derek's."
All six of their M-G-M movies are being offered on this four-disc set which will arrive just in time to commemorate the anniversary of Johnny Weissmuller's 100th Birthday. The six features are presented on three discs, with a fourth disc exclusively devoted to the bonus features.
Tarzan The Ape Man - In their first film, Tarzan meets Jane when she arrives in Africa to join her father's ivory hunting expedition. Smitten, Tarzan kidnaps Jane. After she manages to escape she can't stop thinking about the "Lord of the Apes." When a tribe of pygmies traps the expedition, Jane sends Cheetah to bring Tarzan, who rescues them with the help of his elephants. This time he captures her heart and as the film ends, she chooses to stay.
Tarzan And His Mate - Recently inducted by the Library of Congress into the National Film Registry, Tarzan And His Mate is considered one of the few Hollywood sequels that surpassed the original. In this adventure, Jane's father returns to Africa to continue his search for the elephant burial grounds, hoping that Tarzan will help him. When Tarzan refuses, Jane's father decides to continue anyway and the members of the expedition soon find themselves in grave peril. The popular crocodile battle sequence is used here for the first time and many fans of Tarzan agree this is the best film ever made about the "Lord of the Jungle." The DVD release contains the original uncensored "pre-code" version of the film, containing the notorious nude swimming scene which was deleted prior to theatrical release.
Tarzan Escapes - Jane's cousins try to convince her to claim a fortune bequeathed to her back in England. The action accelerates when their unscrupulous guide attempts to capture Tarzan and turn him into a sideshow attraction to entertain the public.
Tarzan Finds A Son! - Cheetah finds an infant left alone after his parents die in a plane crash and brings the baby home to Tarzan and Jane. They are delighted to take him in and raise him. Five years later a search party comes looking for "Boy" who happens to be an heir to a multi-million dollar fortune. The tree house is rocked when Jane defies Tarzan to lead the search party and "Boy" back to civilization. On the way they are captured by hostile natives and after a breathtaking escape by "Boy," Tarzan and the elephants rescue everyone.
Tarzan's Secret Treasure - Jane and "Boy" are kidnapped by evil villains who want Tarzan to lead them to a treasure in gold. Jane, "Boy" and the villains are then captured by wicked natives and once again Tarzan and his elephants show up to save the day!
Tarzan's New York Adventure - A circus owner smuggles "Boy" out of the jungle and brings him to New York to perform in a show. Jane and Tarzan follow to get their son back. A custody trial is held during which Tarzan is jailed after becoming violent in the courtroom. He escapes, finds the circus and rescues his son with the help of the circus elephants.
The bonus features on this disc will include:
- Silver Screen: King of the Jungle, an all-new feature length documentary about Tarzan on screen, featuring interviews with Maureen O'Sullivan and Johnny Weissmuller, Jr., as well as several noted film historians and "Tarzan experts."
- Vintage vault treasure: Jimmy Durante as Schnarzan the Conqueror (from Hollywood Party)
- Two shorts featuring Johnny Weissmuller
- MGM on Location: Johnny Weissmuller (The filming of Tarzan Finds a Son!)
- Rough Dough
- Theatrical trailers of all six Weissmuller/O'Sullivan films
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of The Apes
* All-new 20th Anniversary Digital Transfer Edition
This extraordinary saga explores the dual nature of Tarzan as he struggles to repress his wild jungle instincts and become the civilized heir to an Earldom. Called "enthralling and gloriously beautiful," by Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times, the film stars Christopher Lambert as the darkly intense Tarzan and Andie MacDowell (Green Card, Four Weddings and A Funeral) who made her movie debut as Jane Porter in this lavish production directed by Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire). The film also stars Sir Ralph Richardson (Watership Down, Dr. Zhivago) in one of his final performances along with Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings Trilogy).
The bonus content on this disc includes:
- 20th Anniversary digital transfer
- Commentary by director Hugh Hudson and associate producer Garth Thomas
- Theatrical trailer
- Soundtrack re-mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1
- Widescreen version dual-layer format
- Languages: English & French with Subtitles in English, French & Spanish
Tarzan The Ape Man (1981)
This highly provocative version of the original Tarzan story is told from Jane's point of view. This time, when Jane (Bo Derek) arrives in Africa to visit her father (Richard Harris) and repeatedly finds herself in peril, the relationship which develops between Jane and her heroic Tarzan (Miles O'Keeffe) steams up the screen in ways the previous films left to viewers' imaginations. While Maureen O'Sullivan, Andie MacDowell, and other "Janes" were certainly considered beautiful and sexy, Bo Derek's portrayal is perhaps the most famously erotic. John Derek, Bo's husband, directed this sexually charged expedition through the wilds of Africa with that specific goal in mind.
The DVD will include the following extra content:
- Theatrical trailer
- Widescreen version dual-layer format
- English: Dolby surround stereo
- Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
The Tarzan Collection on DVD - Tarzan on DVD
In the original script Jane was to have died (Maureen O'Sullivan wanted out of the Tarzan series). Fan protest forced a last-minute rewrite in which Jane recovers from her near-fatal wound, admitting she had been wrong to disobey Tarzan.
The working title of this film was Tarzan in Exile. It was also reviewed as Tarzan Finds A Son! According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, the underwater scenes were shot at Crystal Springs and Silver Springs, Florida, and additional location shots were filmed at Ocala, Florida. Other items in Hollywood Reporter note that the elephants featured in the stampede scene were provided by the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus and the film's shooting schedule was modified to allow star Maureen O'Sullivan, who was pregnant at the time, to finish shooting before her condition prevented her from doing so. The studio originally wanted to replace O'Sullivan because of her pregnancy, but exhibitors insisted that she reprise her role as "Jane." Also, according to studio records, in the original screenplay for the film, "Jane" is hit in the back by a spear while rescuing "Boy", and she dies soon after Tarzan finds her. In a letter to an M-G-M official dated January 6, 1939, Edgar Rice Burroughs stated that he regretted the killing of Jane in the screenplay and feared that the ending would have a bad result at the box-office. An "alternate ending," which corresponds to the ending used in the final film, is included in a screenplay dated January 31, 1939. Modern sources state that the first ending was shot and previewed, and that audiences disapproved of "Jane's" death. For additional information on M-G-M's "Tarzan" series, consult the Series Index and see the entry below for Tarzan, the Ape Man.