Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ape Man Regained

I've written before about how the character of Tarzan was a big part of my life when I was a kid. My mom owned all the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels and she had a big collection of Tarzan comic books, so I've probably been aware of the ape man longer than any other fictional character. I was still a little young in 1966 to recall much about the original airing of the Tarzan TV series starring Ron Ely (I remember it being on, much as I do Batman and Star Trek, but not much beyond that.), but the show went into syndication after 1968, and so I saw quite a bit of it over the next few years. I liked it quite a bit, as Ely's portrayal was much closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs' original conception of Tarzan than the "Me Tarzan, you Jane" version popularized by the films of Johnny Weissmuller. This Tarzan is educated and speaks perfect English and Ely played Tarzan as a confident, compassionate, and likeable character.
Several years back I bought a set of bootleg DVDs of the 1960s Tarzan series. The picture quality was pretty bad, but I enjoyed seeing the series again. I just kept wishing that somebody would release an official DVD set of the series. In an odd coincidence, I learned that Warner Brothers was releasing Tarzan as part of their DVD on Demand line on the day that the DVDs were released. I ordered on the spot and they arrived Wednesday. I just now had a chance to sit down and watch the first episode and I have to congratulate Warner Brothers on a job well done. The image quality on these remastered DVDs is amazingly sharp and clear. In fact this is probably the clearest I've ever seen the show, given television quality in the 1960s-1970s when I last saw them. I'm very very pleased.
I'm a bit less pleased, that Amazon will be offering these same DVDs fifteen dollars cheaper than what I paid WB when they become available on the 27th of this month, but fortunately I only ordered the first half of the set from Warner, so I can get the second half for a better price.
One thing I did notice about the show that had escaped me as a child. Since the show was actually filmed in Mexico, many of the African 'natives' are pretty obviously Hispanic. I guess they figured no one would notice back in 1966.
In any case, I'm just glad the series is available again and in such high quality. Now I need a better set of the1970s Filmation Tarzan Cartoon show. Are you listening, Warner Brothers? (I think Warner has the rights, anyway.)


Keith said...

I saw these in syndication when I was a kid, but I don't remember much about them. The only thing that sticks in my mind was a love scene where the woman Tarzan is in a clinch with tells him he's not only naked but naive and addresses him as "Ape-Man." At least that's the way I remember it.

I didn't know these were out, so I'll have to get them. Thanks for the tip.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Glad I could bring it to your attention, Keith. I think you'll be enjoy the series.