As TCM continues to offer viewers a chronological look at the ever-popular Tarzan franchise as part of their Saturday morning schedule, they’ll present 1958’s Tarzan and the Trappers at 12noon/11c on Saturday, September 17.
In the previous Tarzan film, 1957’s Tarzan and the Lost Safari, viewers saw the Ape Man as they’d never seen him before…in living color. When TCM airs Tarzan and the Trappers, viewers will no doubt notice he’s back in black and white. The reason for this technological step back is simple. Tarzan and the Trappers is made up of what was intended to be a three-episode story arch of a proposed late-1950s Tarzan TV series. When the project never made it to air, the three episodes were edited into a feature-length film.
Once again, Gordon Scott, who starred in the previous two films, Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle and Tarzan and the Lost Safari, is back as our jungle hero, albeit with a haircut and a more domesticated look. Speaking of being domesticated. Jane and Boy are back on the scene as well. Jane hadn’t been seen in a Tarzan film since 1953’s Tarzan and the She-Devil, while Boy last appeared in 1947’s Tarzan and the Huntress.
Brent, a gorgeous blonde is all but wasted in her screen debut as Jane, when she basically sees Tarzan off on his adventure and is rarely seen again. The same goes for Rickie Sorensen, who makes his first of only two appearances as the loin-clothed Boy, now called Tartu.
Also on hand, character actress, Madame Sul-Te-Wan as the Witch Woman. For years it was rumored that Madame Sul-Te-Wan (born Nellie Conley in Louisville, KY) was the grandmother of Dorothy Dandridge, but that rumor has since been proven untrue.
As for the plot of Tarzan and the Trappers, Tarzan encounters Schroeder (Leslie Bradley) an evil trapper who’s in the jungle to illegally trap exotic animals to then be sold to zoos. Among those animals is one of the film’s technical flubs when a Lemur is seen in the jungles of Africa. Lemurs are native to Madagascar, not it’s former mainland of Africa.
Back to the film: When Tarzan hears a jungle drum message warning of the hunters, he manages to foil their plan and frees a baby elephant. In retaliation, Schroeder and his co-hort Rene (Maurice Marsac) kidnapTartu and Cheeta.
In a plot point reminiscent of 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game starring Leslie Banks, Fay Wray and Joel McCrea, Tarzan becomes the hunted when Schroeder‘s brother, Sikes (Sol Gorss) and another trader, Lapin (William Keene), decide to hunt our hero and his native friend, Tyana (Sherman Crothers) instead of animals. There’s also the typical sub-plot of the jungle visitors hoping to steal great treasure from the natives, which is thwarted, thanks to Tarzan, Cheeta and the gang.
Scott, Brent, Sorensen and Cheeta will all return next week for 1958’s Tarzan’s Fight for Life.
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