A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN

by

R.E. Prindle

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Part III

This Silent River Of Mystery And Death

In our hour of darkness,

In our hour of need…

–Trad.

A.

     Leopard Men is an exceptionally dark novel.  There is nothing about it that isn’t horrific, a sort of Gotterdamerung.  There are probably more people killed in this novel than any other of Burroughs’.  The threat of rape hangs heavy in the air.  Old Timer/Burroughs is going through more major changes trying to burst his chrysalis.

     Through it all runs the thread of religion; and not just one religion but three religious systems.  There is the animistic religion of the Africans; a Semitic style religion of the Leopard Men and an esoteric interpretation  concealed in a gorgeous wealth of symbolism.  I will consider the last in Part B.

      ERB’s life was reaching a crisis, he had the MGM contract to worry about, his ongoing war with the Reds and now his sexual crisis that had been roiling beneath the surface for nearly fifty years and was about to bubble over.  Hence the novel is filled with murky, rasty sexual symbolism welling up from the subconscious disguised as religion.

     For supposedly being an escapist writer without either serious purpose or intellectual content when one parses out any of his stories one is amazed that such serious purpose can be successfully disguised as escapist.  ERB shares this ability with Homer of the Iliad.  Since no one seems to have penetrated beyhond the surface glitter from one hundred years ago to this day I hope I will be pardoned for making the attempt.

     ERB’s style of plotting is so diffuse that it is very difficult to grasp the focal point which unites the various strands of his story.  In some incredible way he has half a dozen stories running concurrently each with a different point  and different conclusion.  One has to follow the bouncing ball.  In Jewels Of Opar the uniting theme is the story of what happens to the Jewels.  In Ant Men one has to follow the trajectory of Tarzan’s locket.  In this one the key is Kali Bwana.  ERB seems to favor this linking approach.

     Leopard Men has two main stories, that of Old Timer and Kali Bwana with its subplots as well as the story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men.  As the story opens Tarzan is in Leopard Men territory far from home.  One wonders what Tarzan is doing in this country?  Naturally Burroughs presents his information on a need to know basis.  We apparently don’t need to know until p. 108 when after Tarzan regains his memory from yet another crushing blow to the skull we are told:

     During the long day Tarzan’s mind was occupied with many thoughts.  He had recalled now why he had come into this country, and he marveled at the coincidence of later events that guided his footsteps along the very paths he had intended on trodding before accident had robbed him of the memory of his purpose.    He knew now that depredations by Leopard Men from a far country had caused him to set forth upon a lonely reconnaissance with only the thought of locating their more or less fabled stronghold and temple.  That he should be successful in both finding these and reducing one of them was gratifying in the extreme, and he felt thankful now for the accident that had been responsible for those results.

     Thus as Tarzan regains his memory he discovers that he had destroyed the stronghold of the Leopard Men.  In rescuing Old Timer and Kali Bwana he will also destroy their temple.  A good day’s work.

     With this story of his quest and triumph we have a second examination of religion, a continuation of the exploration begun in Tarzan Triumphant in the first half of 1931.  The reference to the accident that led to these results may be a reference to the incident in Toronto in 1899.  He and Emma both believed it resulted in his writing career.  Perhaps the signing of the contract with MGM in April may also be inferred to as an ‘accident.’  Much research into his relations with MGM and these critical five or six years of his career is necessary.  Certainly by late July and August as he was writing this story the realization of the meaning of the contract he had signed was seeping in.  By 1933’s Tarzan And The Lion Man he was fully aware.  Subsequent to that discovery he formed an ill advised alliance with his new wife’s ex, Ashton Dearholt, to film the ‘real’ Tarzan.  That in its place.  For now his troubles were not on the laps of the gods but on the desks of Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer.

     If negotiations began on April 4 and were completed and signed on April 15 that means that neither ERB nor Rothmund read the contract very thoughtfully.  They certainly didn’t take it to an attorney.  As in Lion Man ERB complains of the duplicity of men; he was finding out what the terms of the contract meant.  Perhaps in Leopard Men he was getting glimmers of the shape of things to come.

     As in Triumphant the two Midian peoples obviously represent Jews and non-Jews, us meaning the Jews and them meaning the rest of the world as per Rabbi Schneerson’s division of mankind into two different species, us and them.  I will treat the Utengans as us and the Leopard Men as them  which is what ERB intended.  The connection of the Leopard Men to the Jews can be established by two references connecting them to Hollywood:

     Gato Mgungu had never had the advantages of civilization.  (He had never been to Hollywood.)

     And on p. 66:

     Perhaps his reasons might be obvious to a Hollywood publicity agent.

     I’m sure you moved out of the way so ERB’s sarcasm didn’t splash on you.

     His letting his contempt for Hollywood which he had suppressed since 1922’s Girl From Hollywood show now and his associating it with Thalberg, Mayer and MGM is evidence of his frustration.

     When Van Dyke returned from Africa he brought his gun bearer Riano and the actor who played Renchoro, Mutia, with him for the finishing scenes.  It seems likely that ERB would have sought an introduction to these two ‘real’ Africans.  One can only imagine what these two bush Negroes who had never conceived a world larger than their own Jungle thought of the twentieth century in the bizarre world of Tinseltown.  How did these minds that had probably never seen a wheel prior to Van Dyke’s expedition react to what must have seemed to them a parallel universe straight out of Wells.  Place yourself in their position and your head will spin.  One wonders, even, having lived naked all their lives, how they reacted to dressing every morning and wearing Western style clothes all day.  Did Tarzan’s experience in the shower in Tarzan Goes To New York have anything to do with these two noble savages introduction to civilization?  Possibly the reference to Gato Mgungu’s never having been to Hollywood may refer to ERB’s observation of Riano and Mutia.

     There is some wonderful stuff going on here.  If Hollywood wasn’t centered on pornography and its concomitant degraded sadistic violence with a little imagination they might be able to put together a good movie or two from this material.  Do I digress?  Ah, then I digress.  But back to the story.

     As with ‘them’ elsewhere the Utengans are good men going about their business while the ‘us’ or Leopard Men are a destructive force in society.  ERB has displaced the two religious systems to Africa where he presents two rather derogatory versions of Africans.  He is uncharacteristically derogatory of the Blacks.  Perhaps his concentration on so portraying the Africans was the result of his rage at the Scottsboro Boys.  On p. 92 he says of the orgy of the Leopard Men:

     He saw that religious and alcoholic drunkenness were rapidly robbing them of what few brains and little self-control Nature had vouchsafed them, and he trembled to think of what excesses they might commit when they passed beyond even the restraint of their leaders; nor did the fact that the chiefs, the priests, and the priestesses were becoming as drunk as their followers tend but to aggravate his fears.

     ERB in his evolutionary mode had always considered the African to be less evolved but this is subjective observation and not an objective one.  The bold statement ‘what few brains  and little self-control’ may have been his personal opinion but doesn’t look well in print.  I can’t imagine how it got beyond the Ballantine censors.  I think it probable that his anger over the Scottsboro affair caused him to lose his customary discretion.  In doing so he would be giving fuel to his detractors which it is never wise to do.  When it is said that this is his worst novel I believe it is because of passages like this.

     One wonders why the delay in the book issuance until 1936 and why then.  Among other reasons one may have been that by 1936 the Communist campaign to embarrass the United States over the alleged injustice to the Boys was reaching a peak.  Perhaps one intention of ERB was to show by the African example that Negroes were by nature of feeble intelligence and little self-control.  If so, risky business for ERB.  However throughout the novel a series of Black men is slathering at the mouth to rape Kali Bwana, recalling the train incident of the Scottsboro Boys.

     ERB also introduces the concept of religious drunkenness which can exist quite independently of alcohol.  Indeed there are many who can maintain a perpetual religious high.  The bizarre statements of Rabbis Schneerson and Ginsburg can be attributed to religious drunkenness.  In their religious enthusiasm they have certainly set aside reason.  So once again a greater depth of thought is revealed than is usually attributed to Burroughs.  Just two words- religious drunkenness- reveal a fair amount of thought and study.

     During the great storm the Leopard Men catalyze the story by the ritual killing of a Utengan named Nyamwegi.  While the storm is raging Tarzan who has taken refuge beside the bole of a great tree has it blown down with one of its great lower branches landing on his head.  One admires the tensile strength of the Big Bwana’s skull.  Apparently a big eighteen wheeler laden with thirty tons could roll over his head, the only possible result being a temporary loss of memory.  Burroughs is going through another period of great stress so Tarzan does wake up in a world he doesn’t recognize.

     A Utengan passing by notices the Big Bwana pinned to the ground on his back by the tree, not on his head, thank goodness, but somewhere over his body.  No broken bones, luck is still with the Big Guy.  As he had his bow and quiver slung over his back as he was pinned one has to think he’s in a fair amount of discomfort.  Orando, the Utengan, is about to eliminate Tarzan from the story, which would have left a gap, when he has the suspicion that this might be his Muzimo.  Orando had just been praying to his Muzimo to aid him in his hunting, perhaps Muzimo is the hunter after whom this chapter is named, and lo, he now appears.  ERB goes to some lengths to demonstrate the superstitious nature of African religion.  He really seems to be making an effort to belittle the African in this novel.  Orando’s suspicion is confirmed a few moments later when by a series of coincidences  Tarzan seems to answer when Orando  calls him Muzimo.  As Tarzan has no memory of another identity he assumes the role of Orando’s Muzimo.  This is really quite well done.

     A Muzimo is a sort of guardian angel, a spirit of an ancestor who looks after you.  Tarzan really fills the role performing natural- for him- feats that Orando believes are supernatural.  Tarzan, or Muzimo, directs the entire successful attack on the Leopard Men’s stronghold.

     Tarzan’s role of Muzimo is a story within the story within the story which based on Trader Horn.  If one keeps diving we might even find another story within the story.  The story of Tarzan as Muzimo is quite independent of the story of Old Timer, the Kid and Kali Bwana.  As we will learn when his role of Muzimo ends, Tarzan’s reason for coming to Utenga was to search out the Leopard Men.  The fact that Old Timer, Kali Bwana and the Kid are there is mere coincidence.  Their stories only become meshed at the Leopard Men’s temple which inadvertantly brings all together.  Even then, after regaining his memory, as Burroughs explains, they are of little interest to Tarzan.  The connection is only racial which is very weak.  Really the devil is in the details; a whole lot of devils.

     ERB has established the conflict between the superstition based animistic religion of the majority  culture and the horrific satanic religion of his minority culture.  He may be ‘fictionizing’ here the real life situation between the Western dominant culture of Christiantity, which he would still believe superstitious, and its recessive Jewish sub-culture.  I’m not clear how closely he intends the comparison.  At first sight Orando’s mistaking Tarzan for his Muzimo or guardian angel seems ridiculous yet even at this moment seventy percent of Americans believe in guardian angels.  The figure would probably have been a few percentage points higher at that time.

     Also, the Scopes Monkley Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was as recent as 1925-26, so the conflict between science and superstition in the US was by no means a settled matter.  The analogy between African and American culture may be sardonic.

     Just as the Utengans probably represent the Christian culture of the West so the Leopard Men may represent the minority Jewish Culture.  Just as the Leopard Men had adherents functioning secretly within the majority culture directing affairs so did the Jewish Culture in the West.  Just as the Leopard men had organizatonal representatives distributred amongst all the tribes across Africa functioning toward a common goal so Jewish Culture was represented in every culture of the Western world.  Just as the witch doctor Sobito manipulated the affairs of the Utengans from within for the benefit of the Leopard Men so the Jewish Culture through the ADL/AJC  manipulated Western Culture for its own benefit.

     In the twenties and thirties the International Jewish Conspiracy phase of Jewish manipulation was the prevailing fear.  The struggle to deny the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion had not yet been effected although well along.

     It seems clear to me that Burroughs always has ulterior motives in his novels.  He is not simply telling a story for entertainment.  Burroughs must have been puzzled by the attitude of the majority culture.  While Science was daily discrediting the supernatural yet the majority of the majority clung to, not so much outmoded religious beliefs, as a religious cast of mind.  The belief in Christianity was being steadily eroded as based on superstition yet rather than abandoning religion Americans frantically tried to incorporate science into religion.  Thus one has the strong religious quality of Liberalism that encourages the defamation of Christianity yet pursues a religious agenda based on wishful thinking.

     It is very strange, more than passing strange, that while Westerners reject Christianity they have reverence for Judaism and Moslemism.  While Christianity represents an anterior stage in the psychological development of mankind, the former two are even more primitive, magical and superstitious.  One has to laugh out loud at Rabbi Schneerson’s attempt to incorporate genetics into his religious system while the Moslem clerics are unfathomable by both Scientific and Liberal ideas and notions.  Yet Liberals attack Christianity while endorsing Judaism and Moslemism.

     Burroughs pits his alter-ego Tarzan and the majority against the minority religion launching an all out attack.  Tarzan, whose memory is gone, accepts his role as Orando’s Muzimo.  Curiously Burroughs describes Tarzan’s tan as so deep that he is the same skin color as Orando yet retains his status as ‘White.’  Possibly Orando was better able to accept Tarzan as his Muzimo because of the skin color.  Tarzan becomes Muzimo being in fact Orando’s guardian angel until he regains his memory at which point he becomes again his own man pursuing his own interests.  While he is Orando’s Muzimo he is a spectacular guardian angel directing Orando’s quarrel with the Leopard Men to a successful conclusion which as we are told his original intention was the suppression of the Leopard Men.

     Tarzan foils the Leopard Men’s advantage in Utenga by exposing the witch doctor Sobito as a Leopard Man as well as the spy Lupingu.  He is instrument in the deaths of both.  His task is made easier because Orando believes implicitly in whatever his Muzimo says.  Thus, while there is a natural explanation for what happens the results appear as genuinely supernatural to Orando and his tribesmen.

     This is all handled very cleverly by Burroughs as he lets the reader see what is happening as he also shows Orando’s superstitious interpretation.  It’s actually pretty funny.

     By following Tarzan/ Muzimo’s advice the Utengans catch the Leopard Men coming back from a ritual orgy while hung over and either kill or scatter them, men, women and children.  There was no one left alive in their village.  Thus the majority expel their troublesome minority or sub-culture from their midst, perhaps as ERB wished the majority culture of the United States might do with its troublesome minority culture.  He may have used Africa as a metaphor for the United States.  In any event Leopard Men seems to be a continuation of Triumphant on the religious level while being perhaps the most detailed examination of religion that ERB ever did.  But you can see why his Liberal detractors would call this his worst novel.

     At the time of writing Leopard Men the most recently issued story was Tarzan The Invincible.  Tarzan Triumphant had been written and probably submitted to Blue Book but it wouldn’t be published until 1932-33 while the book edition was published in 1932 so there couldn’t as yet have been a reaction to his portrayal of the two Midian cultures and Abraham son of Abraham and his followers of Paul.

     Perhaps ERB found his religious portrayal of Triumphant too clumsy so he refined it in Leopard Men.

B.

The Goddess Kali

Riders On The Storm

     If  you don’t enter as an initiate you won’t get the story.  The symbolism in this story is so strong and complete that it should be a standard psychological textbook.  Burroughs writes as though he had just come from a course in esoteric symbolism.  He continues this throughout the story too.  I don’t know if I can do this justice but I will try.

     Burroughs has entered the defining crisis of his life, thus the novel is full of symbols of life, death, sex and regeneration.  ERB feels that he is being born again, the butterfly emerging from the cocoon.  The very name Kali Bwana is the primary symbol.  Kali is the Hindu symbol of life, death and regeneration.  Her image is as dark as this story.  This story, as it were, emerges from the very bowels of the pit, the viscera of frustrated desires and hopes of their fulfillment.  Very frightening actually.  I can see how on one level so many people would consider it ERB’s worst.  It isn’t easily understandable..  The story deals with primal needs and desires that would drive a man insane.  Indeed, Kali Bwana considers Old Timer insane.  He himself says that maybe he is crazy.  He makes psychotic statements and is on the verge of criminal sexual behavior throughout the book until the very end when he is reformed.  This is an extremely violent but regenerative story.  Sort of like Walt Disney on steroids.

     Kali Bwana is the joy of man’s desiring.  A platinum blonde, her beauty apparently disintegrates all men’s self control as she inspires dreams of rape rather than courting.  Old Timer himself has rape in mind all through the book.  No man or animal in the story every thinks of honoring her femininity; their only thoughts are to violate her beauty to gratify their illicit lustful desires or, perhaps, to cannibalize her beauty and make it their own possession.  This is serious stuff.

     As Kali she is the mate of Shiva.  while Shiva is usually depicted as a handsome young man serenely playing the flute while all goes to hell around him Burroughs represents him as the Leopard god of the cannibalistic, criminal animist or nature cult.  Thus, Kali Bwana is captured by the Leopard Men to serve as high priestess to their Leopard god thus forming an Anima and Animus.  Burroughs does an excellent job of presenting both the barbaric splendor and degradation of the cult or religion.

     The story is set by the book’s opening,  one of attempted rape and violence set amidst a terrific storm  in a sort of swamp like atmosphere.  One feels this is not an ordinary storm but one fraught with significance and meaning.  It is a life changing storm.

     The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols which I use here for reference is readily available.  It discusses storms on p. 941:

     The storm is a symbol of a theophany, the manifestation of the awesome and mighty power of God.  While it may herald a revelation, it can also be a manifestation of divine anger and sometimes of punishment. 

     Creative activity is also unleashed in a storm.  In a cosmic upheaval beyond the power of words, life itself was born. 

     And then Burroughs refers to the storm as a hurricane.  The Penguin dictionary says this of that, p. 533:

     Hurricanes are almost Dionysiac orgies of cosmic energy.  They symbolize the ending of one period of time and the beginning of another as tireless Earth repairs the damage.

     So now we have the figure of the eternal female, the symbol of birth, death and regeneration coupled with storm and hurricane symbols also denoting major epochal changes.  The impact is increased by the whole being expressed in a half dozen pages, very compressed.

     It should be noted that Florence Gilbert represents Kali Bwana and Old Timer is obviously ERB.  the changes are happening to him.  Florence/Kali is both repelled and passive.  Perhaps because of the ripening romance between his wife and ERB Ashton Dearholt had taken her on a motor tour removing her from the scene probably hoping separation would end the affir.  According to the ERBzine 30s Bio Timeline the Dearholts returned to LA in May just as ERB was completing Triumphant and before he began Leopard Men.  If he had been fighting his feelings for Florence her return was obviously more than he could deal with hence this terrific storm and the overwhelming number of female symbols in the novel.

     At the same time as the rape attempt the Leopard Men corner Nyamwegi, a Utgengan returning from a date with his girl friend.  Amidst the multiple bolts of lightning which illuminate the entire sky and tremendous crashes of thunder the Leopard Men gruesomely and bloodily murder the boy removing body parts.

     ERB accentuates the ferocity of the storm and hurricane by saying that the lightning bolts were numerous and continuous, filling the entire sky.  The Penguin dictionary, p. 606:

     Lightning symbolizes the spark of life and powers of fertilization.  It is fire from Heaven, vastly powerful and terrifyingly swift, which may be either life giving or death dealing.

     And on p. 607:

     As the weapon of Zeus, forged in FIRE (symbol of the intellect) by the Cyclops, lightning is the symbol of intentive and spiritual enlightenment  or the sudden flash of inspiration.  However, while it enlightens and stirs the spirit, lightning strikes down the drive of unsatisfied and uncontrolled desire…

     So after this storm all will be changed; there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  Kali Bwana has averted personal disaster while Nyamwegi has met his end.  Nearby in another part of the forest Tarzan and Nkima crouch beside a forest giant to wait out the storm.  Here the hurricane topples the tree uprooting it.  Tarzan tosses Nkima out of the way but is himself struck by a branch, one assumes one of the big ones of the lower terrace.  Once again the Big Fella is given a case of amnesia so that he is not aware of his racial affinity to the Whites aligning himself with the Blacks.

     In another part of the forest, not too far away, Old Timer and the Kid are discussing their fortunes apparently unaware of this massive storm.  As Old Timer sets out on the trail of ivory on the morrow he hears a shot which leads him to Kali Bwana.  All the elements of the New Day are in place.

     The action takes place not only in the forest but in the Ituri Rain Forest, the forest of forests.  In Western symolism the forest is where the lost man wanders in search of his redemption.  One has to find one’s way out of the forest for personal redemption.  Thus Old Timer and Kali lose their way wandering around in the forest hopelessly lost.  At one point Old Timer can’t see the constellations to navigate at night.  At another the forest is so dark he can’t see the sun to navigate by it.  Both he and Kali have to be rescued by Tarzan after he regains his memory.

     As David Adams has pointed out Sheeta the panther is always associated with the Anima or female.  Usually Sheeta is described as a panther but in this novel Sheeta is the Leopard.  The smell of Sheeta is overwhelming throughout this novel.  In this case I think we may be sure that Sheeta represents the fear of the feminine.  Tarzan and Nkima are inseparable in this novel.  Throughout the entire novel Nkima complains about the small of Sheeta who wishes to devour him, in other words, to emasculate him.  So Burroughs is afraid of what is happening to him in regards of Florence.  When Tarzan recovers consciousness after the battle with the Leopard Men the first thing he does is call Nkima.  The little monkey in his place on Tarzan’s shoulder reminds one of the Egypian Ka or double.  Tarzan the fearless and Nkima the fearful.  Burroughs as a child confronted by John the Bully.

     As an aspect of Tarzan’s- and Burroughs’- character Nkima probably represents his more chicken livered side.  There is no record of Tarzan ever having fear, he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word, but Burroughs did hence Nkima who knows nothing but fear.  Neither Tarzan nor Burroughs have ever been what one would call ladies men hence if not fear of the feminine at least an apprehension of it.  As Burroughs is now reaching a major crisis of his life having now to choose either Emma or Florence it is not to be wondered that the forest reeks of Sheeta.  Indeed, the Leopard Men themselves are symbols of the feminine and they intend to sacrifice Old Timer.  Thus one has the leopard as Leopard god and Kali Bwana as his Leopard goddess.

     The tremendous rainfall, itself a symbol of regeneration and fertility from the male sky god would create a steaming swamplike atmosphere as it fell on Mother Earth while the temple of the Leopard God itself was in a crocodile infested swamp.

     First the Crocodile as symbol, Penguin p. 244:

     The crocodile which carries the Earth on its back, is a divinity of darkness and the Moon, whose greed is like that of the NIGHT which each evening devours the Sun.  From civilization to civilization and from age to age the crododile exhibits a high proportion of the countless links in that basic symbolic chain which belongs to the controlling forces of death and rebirth.  The crocodile may be a formidable figure, but this is because like all expression of the power of fate, what he displays is inevitable- darkness falling so that daylight may return, death striking so that life may be reborn.

     In other words, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.  Poor Emma.  Obviously for ERB he is killing his past so that his future may be born.

     The temple is in the center of a swamp so deep withing the forest that the sun never shines on it.  The swamp is the quintessential female symbol.  It is in the Lernean swamp where Heracles has to battle with the Hydra.  Hydra=the water of the feminine and the irrational.  Each time Heracles cuts off one of the seven heads another grows in its place until he cauterizes each severance with fire, that is the power of the male intellect.

     Thus, one has crocodiles, leopards, water, swamp, the river and Stygian darkness.  if you can’t rise above the fear of the feminine, you will be swamped, drowned in her waters.  The only entrance and exit is this slow moving river is obscured by the forest.  This river of mystery and death, this impenentrable forest.  The River is the last of the great symbols we will consider, Penguin p. 808:

     The symbolism of rivers and running water is simultaneously that of the ‘universal potentiality’ and that of the ‘fluidity of forms’ (Schuan) of fertility, death and revewal.  The stream is that of life and death.  It may be regarded as flowing down to the sea; as a current against which one swims; or as something to be crossed from one bank to another.  Flowing into the sea it is the the gathering of the waters, the return to an undifferentiated state, attaining Nirvana.  Swimming against the stream is clearly returning to the divine source, the First Cause.  Crossing the river is overcoming an obstacle, separating two realms or conditions, the phenomenal world and the unconditioned state, the world of the senses and the state of non-attachment.

     Then this from Burroughs, p. 191:

     The sun was sinking behind the western forest, its light playing on the surging current of the great river that rolled past the village of Bobolo.  A man and a woman stood looking out across the water that was plunging westward in its long journey to the sea down to the trading posts and the towns and the ships, which are the frail links that connect the dark forest with civilization.

     If one looks at this novel from an esoteric symbolic point of view the symbols tell their own story.

     As Old Timer says Kali means Woman.  At the beginning we have Woman and the Shaggy Man.

     I haven’t given the symbolism of the Shaggy Man yet so using the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols again under the heading Rags and Tatters, p. 782:

     (Rags And Tatters) are the symbol of anxiety and lesions of the psyche as well as that material poverty which, in folktale, is sometimes adopted as a disguise by princes, princesses and wizards.  It denotes simultaneously poverty and anxiety or cloaks inner riches under an appearance of wretchedness, thus displaying the superiority of the inner over the outer self.

     Thus Kali- the Woman- the symbol of death, birth and regeneration, and The Shaggy Man or the Frog Prince, the Hero in disguise, waiting to be regenerated by the kiss of the ultimate Woman.  A classic fairy tale, actually, with a tip of the hat to David Adams for insisting on the fairy tale connection.

     The Man, the Woman, the Storm with a tremendous display of  Lightning, Thunder, Wind and Rain completely transforming both the physical and psychic landscapes bringing the Man and the Woman together.

     The Woman is then captured by the repressed sexual desire of the Leopard Men who wish to install her as their Goddess.  The Woman or Kali is stripped Naked and then adorned with various attributes of the Leopard Cult.

     As in various myths, fairytale and folklore stories the Man and the Woman (the Anima and Animus) have been separated by Fate and must fight through all obstacles to be reunited.

     Kali (Woman) is led through the teeming, steaming forest with a rope around her neck to the big river down which she is canoed to a smaller stream, ‘the silent river of mystery and death’ in the darkest, swampiest, most crocodile infested part of the darkest of dark forests.

     Abandoning all other concerns the Shaggy Man pursues Kali to the village of the Leopard Men where he is taken prisoner, then taken down the silent river (the Styx?) to be sacrificed.  By a miracle the two escape only to be separated again while the Shaggy Man is taken back to the temple of the Leopard Men.  Kali, Woman, is captured by a Black chief to serve his sexual needs.  Rape again.  White=Light, Black= Darkness.  Thus the ever present threat of rape seems to be about to be fulfilled.  But no, the elder wife of the Black chief objects to the White Woman.  Out of the pot and into the fire.  The Woman is left with Pygmies who are even more vile than the Blacks.

      But now a Deus ex-machina, Tarzan, has released the Shaggy Man.  Hot in pursuit he follows Woman to the Pygmy camp.  He madly attempts rescue which is successful once again because of the Deus ex machina.

     It’s not over yet folks.  ERB can make any 192 page story go on for a near eternity.  Together again Kali and the Shaggy Man are once more torn assunder when the Deus ex machina sends an ape who captures the Shaggy Man.  Makes you breathless, doesn’t it?  Deus once again reunites the Woman and Shaggy Man.  Now, if you will notice the Shaggy Man forces a kiss on Woman.  His act of violence shames him so that he finds redemption in his remorse.  Thus the kiss of Woman has returned the Frog Prince to his rightful form.

     As the story ends the two are about to leave the dark forest for the light of civilization down river.

     Thus one has the classic myths- Psyche and Eros, Perseus and Andromeda and many others, numerous fairy tales -Cinderella, one which ERB has used before, and much folklore.  It is done very well, too, if you’re following the bouncing ball.

     It is noteworthy that the work of another great author is misunderstood too.  I refer to the ancient poet Homer.  While Homer’s reputation is very great no one understands the Iliad.  The adventures of the Gods and Goddesses are beyond the comprehension of classical scholars.  Thus they prefer the Odyssey which is written in a more comprehensible if pedestrian style.  If I remember correctly the Five Foot Shelf excludes the Iliad while containing the Odyssey.  While both are attributed to Homer they must have been written by two different mind sets.  The psychology of each is too different to have been written by one mind.  Besides the Iliad concerns the middle part of the Siege of Troy while the Odyssey skips all the way to the story of only one of the Returns.

     There are similarities in the way Burroughs and Homer tell their stories but to avoid argument Homer is incomparably the greater.

     Nevertheless Burroughs has masterfully used a set of symbols to supply a very rich subtext to this story and he has done it intentionally.  He does know whereof he speaks.  I don’t think there is any doubt that he has studied Esoterica.  Probably the topic was of life long interest both in the old kook capitol Chicago and the new kook capitol of Los Angeles.  (Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb.)

     There was a lot of esoterica going on in LA.  The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley was out in the desert at Barstow, Manly Hall was advising the movies on estoteric matters, the Vedantists were established and the Theosophists had a terrific college in LA.

     Anybody who thinks ERB wasn’t interested in such things doesn’t know how to spell Edgar Rice Burroughs.

     While ERB wouldn’t touch a religious theme unless ‘highly fictionized’ he managed to highly fictionize all manner of religion in this great novel of his mature period.  He was working at break neck pace too.

     Love this stuff.

     On to Part IV which will deal with the cast of characters.  Inevitably there’s a certain amount of repitition but I try to cast the stuff in different highlights, crosslights and aspects.  This stuff deserves a thorough examination.

 

 

A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 10 of 10 parts

by

R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

Tarzan’s Excellent New York Adventure

 

     Sound movies were a unique cultural addition.  The Studios had little or nothing to do with ‘artists.’  The Studios were entertainment factories organized along the same lines as Ford’s assembly plants.  Like Ford’s factories their interest was mass production.  There was a tremendous investment in theatres and distribution.  The theatres could not sit idle waiting for the next picture hence a studio’s goal was to porduce fifty-two A movies a year, or one a week to change the marquee.

     Unlike Broadway theatres where the production and performance would hopefully last a year, two, or three or publishing where a bestseller would take a writer quite some time to compose, usually, and would take a year or two to sell through, the writers, actors, directors and such were merely employees.  ‘Workers’ in Communist terminology.  This was a major departure in the ‘arts.’

     The only entity taking a risk was the Studio or corporation hence each and every film was organized and supervised from the top down.  Once the executives determined on a project the necesary ‘workers’ were assembled.  With the amount of money involved in each production the Studio could ill afford to let projects originate in any other way.

     Thus as industrial units writers were not allowed sole authorship of any movies.  One writer might work up the idea which was then assigned to other writers to add to, change and polish until the executives thought they had a money maker.  And then the movie was taken for a test  drive for audience reaction and underwent other changes.  Few original ideas were used.  Usually a project was based on a a proven entity like a novel, old play or tried and true plot line.

     Naturally in such a situation any group could be disciplined to follow one of any number of tacks.  The jobs were highly paid and desirable.  To not go with the flow, to not follow orders was to lose a very lucrative employment.

     The executives were in control.  When Burroughs was in the employ of MGM for those five weeks he had a chance to view the system in operation.  As he observed in Lion Man, p. 8:

     “There ain’t no tigers in Africa, Milt,”  explained the director.

     “Who says there ain’t?”

     “I do.”  replied Orman, grinning.

     ‘How about it, Joe?”  Smith turned toward the scenarist.  (Writer)

     “Well, Chief, you said you wanted a tiger sequence.”

     “Oh, what’s the difference?  We’ll make it a crocodile sequence.”

     Quite clearly the writer is not an originator but an employee who works up material to order.  This quite natural consequence of mass production, then, played into Communist hands.

     The Communists arrived in Hollywood almost simultaneously with sound while Communism was already the normal way of Jewish collective thinking.

     Thus the collective mindset of Judaism and Communism was already in place.  It remained only for the Communists to organize the ‘cultural workers’ as in any other indistry which they immediately set to do.  The cultural clash between individualistic actors and writers as ‘artists’ was already undermined by the studio system but some ‘cultural workers’ were still offended by becoming mere ciphers in an industrial machine.  Nonetheless the Communists organized the culural workers into units such as the Screen Actors Guild- SAG-and Screen Writers Guild-SWG.  IATSE covered the technical people.

     Once a collective is formed, whether a guild, a religion, a corporation or political party, an executive committee is necessary to handle affairs and set policy.  Anyone who doesn’t accept policy must be disciplined until he does or he is expelled, denied work, blacklisted or in the extreme case of  Stalin’s USSR, eliminated.

     So the Communists set their ideals against those of the studios.  In a few years this would create a conflict between the Communists and the Studio heads when HUAC came to Hollywood.  The Communists denied guilt acccording to John Howard Lawson, one of the leaders.  (Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund: The Inquisition In Hollywood:  Politics In The Film Community, 1930-1960, University Of California Press, 1983.)

(Ceplair and Englund speaking)

      Communist screenwriters could not themselves, directly improve or change content through political inserts- whistling the “Internationale”, speeches about democracy- or by writing Communist films stressing the importance of collectivity over the individual and graphically depicting the plight of the dispossessed, the nature of their struggle, and their inevitable class triumph, or by imitating Russian Marxists aethetics.  (John Howard) Larson, for one, was very forthright about the lack of success in those directors:

     Ceplair, Englund quote Lawson:

     As a matter of undeviating practice in the motion picture industry it is impossible for any screen writer to put anything into a motion picture to which the executive producers object.  The content of motion pictures is controlled exclusively by producers; {all aspects of  a film] are carefully studied, checked, edited and filtered by executive producers and persons acting directly under their supervision.

     While I would disagree with Lawson that a clever writer couldn’t slip quite a few items past any censor or censors I think the point has been clearly made that the final film product reflects the wishes and attitudes of the Studio executives.  Thus whatever the process, the content and apparent meaning of the six MGM Tarzan films reflect the intent of the MGM executives from Lous B. Mayer on down.  Thus Judaeo-Communists are forming the popular image of Tarzan to reflect their own ends.  The chief caveat is that the films must make money so any motives on the screen must be ulterior so as not to destroy the entertainment value.  Ceplair and Englund’s idea of making bloated politial speeches as the only way of injecting political or social content is absurd.

     Perhaps in those days people weren’t as yet so sensitive to multi-culturalism and Diversity as society is today.  For that reason I am reevaluating the era in terms of modern Multi-Culturalism  and Diversity.  It’s like hitting the Saturation button, if you know what I mean.

     Before moving on from the background of the situation to the actual analysis of MGM’s last Tarzan effort it will be necessary to update the Jewish Cain and Abel play to the United States.

     As mentioned previously the thirties brought a tremendous influx of Central European Jews to Hollywood.  While Freud himself remained in Vienna until well past the last moment then choosing to emigrate to England as his 1909 visit to Clark College in Massachusetts left a worse taste in his mouth than those horrid cigars, huge numbers of psychoanalysts and psychologists found their way to the West as well as a large percentage of the Jewish film colony of Germany.  Accompanying these Europeans west were the Jewish criminals attached to the Outfit of Chicago.  These were all Jews from the Pale born c. 1900-10.

     The earlier German Jews who arrived after the 1848 Revolution were now being absorbed by the Jews from the Pale or dying out.  They had been responsible for establishing the first Jewish occupation when they aligned themselves with the Woodrow Wilson Administration of 1913-21.  There they established the classic Abelite relationship with higher authority.  President Wilson gave them pretty much the same latitude as the Spanish kings of the pre-Inquisition or any number or early rulers.  This has gone unnoticed but they established their traditional role of ‘tax farmers’ or overseers of the goyim cattle under Wilson.

     The WIB or War Industries Board, was a key instrument in the attempt to subordinate the goyim.  Wilson himself was a self-absorbed simpleton who was easily manipulated; I doubt if he had any idea of what was really going on.  He placed the Jewish speculator and financier, Bernard Baruch, at the head of the WIB.

     Baruch then under the guise of the ‘war emergency’ required each and every business of each and every industry to submit their confidential data so they could be reorganized as a component of the war effort.

     This sounds reasonable enough but there was no war emergency in the United States.  War hysteria perhaps, but no emergency.  Wilson himelf, beneath his outward calm, was an hysteric.  He was not emotionally qualified for the presidency.  Interestingly Teddy Roosevelt perceived this without any difficulty.  The stringency of the measures taken to ensure uniformity were not based on war necessities but on a socialistic program to render everyone ‘equal’ or the same while at the same time bringing industry under Jewish control.

     Industry protested vigorously against the measures taken by Baruch and his WIB only to be called anti-Semites.  Foremost of these were Henry Ford and the Dodge Brothers.  The Dodge Brothers who were less temperate than Ford in denouncing the WIB and Baruch correctly identified the problem as the Cain and Abel syndrome.  For this they were murdered in 1920.  Ford went into strong reaction buying the Dearborn Independent which ran his series of articles denouncing the syndrome thereby being characterized by the Jews as ‘anti-Semitic.’

      The ‘war emergency’ ended just as some of the more remarkable edicts of the WIB were about to be put into effect.  Wilson was run out of office in 1921, he would have run for a third term had his health permitted, thus the Jewish cultural program was put into abeyance until 1933.

     Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an under Secretary Of The Navy during Wilson’s last term.  Roosevelt became a disciple of Wilson’s so that when he was elected President in 1932 the whole Wilson program was reinstated.  The Jews returned to government in unprecedented numbers under the shelter of the higher authority of Roosevelt.  Punitive income tax rates were established to emasculate men the Jews considered enemies such as W.R. Hearst.

     Twentieth century Amrica was different from fifteenth century Spain in that the executive role was considerably reduced as Governmental functions had become institutionalized.  The executive was now subject to a consitution and the rule of law.  Secure under the wing of the executive it was necessary for the Cain and Able Syndrome, the Culture, to subvert the law.

     Woodrow Wilson had appointed the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis.  He had been canonized by the media as would be his successor to the ‘Jewish’ seat on the Supreme Court, Felix Frankfurter.  These two men were put forward as secular saints although it is difficult to imagine why when one examines their careers in the light of today’s multi-culturalism and diversity.

     The agents of Jewish culture would make many decisions to undermine the British based legal system to convert it to a Semitic based system favoring the culture of the Jews.  Today’s ‘hate’ laws promulgated under the cover of a mistaken version of multi-culturalism and diversity are an impostion of civil disabilites on dissenters and are an example of what evolved.

     Thus working above board legally and below board criminally the Jewish culture sought to realize the age old Cain and Abel dream in the United States.  While Gus Russo in his Supermob concentrates on arch criminals like Sidney Korshak and other crooks looting the American industrial system he passes lightly over the career of one who seems very significant by the name of David Bazelon, also from Chicago’s Lawndale.

     Bazelon functioned as an enabler while being a civil servant.  In this way he was able to direct certain opportunities to his mob contacts in the Chicago Outfit.  All the Jews connected to the Outfit were lawyers.  They used their legal knowledge and skills to circumvent the law rather than applying it.

     Bazelon later almost made the Supreme Court.  In the year or so following the confiscation of Japanese property in California in 1942 he used his position in the Office Of Alien Properties disposing of that property.  In a very corrupt manner he sold the properties at bargain prices to his associates in the Outfit, both Jewish and Sicilian.  Thus they were not only able to utilize the immense proceeds from their criminal activities but were able to bilk from the upper world legal profits from these properties.

     Thus Bazelon violated the trust placed in him by the American government but at the same time was able to sabotage that same government.

     To return to Mr. Netanyahu’s complaint about the Jews in Spain.  A Spaniard by the name of Marcos Garcia who was a leader of the insurrection against the Jews felt that the crimes of the (Jews) embrace all spheres of life.  They are manifest in religion, economy, government, and of course in all personal relationships between the (Jews) and the (Spanish.)  Thus they gnaw at (Spanish) society from all angles and undermine all its institutions.

     Thus Mr. Netanyahu unconsciously states how ‘anti-Semitism’ comes into existence.  He doesn’t seem to be aware of the Cain-Abel Syndrome but that is what he is explaining.  From the origins of the Hebrews through Spain to the contemporary situation in the Central and Eastern Europe and the United States of then and today the story is always the same.

     Just as the Spaniards he is describing were attempting to exterminate the Jews, so as in Burroughs’ time both Nazis and Communists were doing the same.  That is the inevitable programmed result of the Cain-Able Syndrome.  Mr. Netanyahu should diligently study Sigmund Freud’s The Future Of An Illusion.

     In the multi-cultural sense the Jews then and now were trying to establish their cultural supremacy.  I do not argue against this per se as the inevitable result of the clash of cultures is and must be the dominance of one.  The inevitble result of diversity is the destruction of all cultures but one.  I have demonstrated this in the Darwinian evolutionary sense repeatedly.  The point is there is no reason for me or anyone else to supinely allow their culture to be destroyed for the benefit of another.  Or course, if a culture doesn’t have the backbone to defeat another then so be it.

     I have also quoted Rabbi Schneerson’s ‘scientific’ argument for the innate superiority of the Jews.  In Spanish times a religious argument demonstrating such superiority was used.  Quoting Juan de Torquemada, the uncle of the Inquisitor, Mr Netanyahu argurs thusly, pp. 481-82:

     …it is a fact that the gentiles, to elevate their status, had to be “grafted” onto the “tree” of the Jews.  As the Apostle said, “You gentiles, (this word is added to Torquemada), who are an oleaster” (namely a wild olive tree which cannot bear good fruit), you had neither the Law nor the Prophets, or even the worship of God, as you were dedicated to idolatry, ought to remember that you “were grafted among them”- that is, among the standing branches (ramis stantibus), which are the apostles and the other faithful Jews, “and with them you aprtake of the root”- that is the faith of the Patriarchs and the Prophets, “and the fatness of the olive tree”- that is, of the doctrine and grace of Christ which came from the Jews.

      So, the context changes but the argument always remains the same.  As George Santayana said:  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Since the Illusion has not changed the result must ever be the same whether Spain, Europe or the United States.  Mr. Russo in his Supermob without realizing it was replicating the description in the United States of Mr. Netanyahu’s description in Spain.

     So now, with a grasp of the underlying strategies we can return to Burroughs and MGM.  The purpose of MGM was to discipline a ‘loose cannon’ like Burroughs.

     There had been recent renewed activity in Tarzan films after a hiatus of several years, however MGM’s interest seems to have been catalyzed by their interest in Trader Horn.  Perhaps the story showed them the way.  All the MGM Tarzans would bear the imprint of Trader Horn.  It appears that MGM first considered a Trader Horn series with Tarzan as a subsidiary character.  Cyril Hume’s first script was a Trader Horn sequel in which Tarzan appeared only as a supporting character having little or no relationship to the literary Tarzan.  There wasn’t even a Jane as Tarzan was paired up with a female scientist.  That’s an interesting subliminal association.  As Hume was undoubtedly trying to fulfill suggestions from the executives we don’t know why the screenplay was scrapped.  As Burroughs got his paychecks for those five weeks probably attending planning sessions in Thalberg’s office it may be that he objected.

     The finished product clearly reflects the first script although the emphasis is changed to make Tarzan more prominent but not clearly the central character.  Jane actually is the more dominant personality.

     The entire series takes place on the MGM invented Mutia escarpment which would have been above the Murchison Falls of the Nile.  As is well known the name Mutia comes from the first name of the actor playing Renchoro in Trader Horn. 

     The first two movies which were either pre-Lion Man or unaffected by the novel don’t seem to refer to any of Burroughs’ works being a free interpretation of the character.  The last four movies have references to Lion Man while Tarzan’s Secret Treasure reflects the Opar theme, Tarzan And The Leopard Men as well as Lion Man.  Both the latter novels make reference to Trader Horn as MGM seems to date the beginning of Tarzan to the post-Trader Horn period.  Tarzan is introduced as a grown man in the movies whle as an infant in the novels.

     The movies attempted to denigrate and belittle the character which if you’re familiar with the literary Tarzan they do.  The magnificence and appeal of the character is so great that even the MGM Tarzan defeats their efforts remaining an entrancing character for the movie going public.

     As a boy I can’t be sure which movies I saw other than Tarzan Triumphs although I must have seen all the Lesser films.  On reviewing the MGM Tarzans they don’t ring any bells.  Perhaps the movies were forgettable but Tarzan wasn’t.  As a young boy I was entranced seeing nothing negative in the ape man’s portrayal so perhaps most of the audience didn’t either.  Of course neither they nor I knew what to look for.

     After five profitable successes MGM decided to abandon the series which must be unique In Movieland.  For the final film the location was moved to New York City.  In Trader Horn the location was moved from the US to Africa; in the final Tarzan episode Africa came to the US.  In this episode Tarzan is subordinated to civilization and stripped of his jungle mystique.

     By this time Burroughs himself had been exiled from Hollywood to Hawaii.  There he separated from his young wife while sinking into alcoholism.  His son had to go to Hawaii in an attempt to win ERB from the bottle.  I don’t mean to be unkind but it is true.  From MGM’s point of view he may have appeared a shattered wreck of a man who no longer merited their attention.  As they were done with the Lion Man so they were done with his alter ego.  ERB might have drunk himself to death if the war hadn’t intervened.  The movie obviously has a lot of references directed at Burroughs; some I picked up but I may not have interpreted correctly while many have probably gone over my head but I’m sure that as ERB sat watching they didn’t go over his.

     The reference to the Mutia Escarpment immediately refers to the Trader Horn connection.  I can’t get the exact relationship between Trader Horn and Tarzan but it obviously existed to MGM.  The Escarpment is said to be so high that it reaches to the stars.  Stars may be a reference to MGM which boasted ‘more stars than there are in Heaven.’  Thus the reference would be mocking ERB.

     One of the key goals of both the Reds and Jews would be to subordinate Tarzan.  One has to keep Freudian concepts in mind at all times.  A culture is a group and must obey the laws of its group psychology.  That group psychology can be scientifically analyzed just as individual psychology can.  There is no escaping the evidence of your behavior or its consequences.

     Both groups, the Jews and Reds were into collectivism.  Independent thought is not allowed.  Tarzan was the supreme individualist.  He is in fact a loner among humans although on very good terms with the animals.  Tarzan was a law unto himself; he was not subject to any external law.  thus he had to have his independence destroyed and brought within the Law and the collectivity.  Let’s deal with jewish aspects first.

     The movies were made in 1932, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941 and 1942.  The New York adventure was conceived and finished before Pearl Harbor so that event had no effect on the movie.  So the spacing is two, two, three, two and one in years.  Burroughs lamented that MGM wasn’t producing at least one movie a year.  MGM might have chosen to have done this.  As the Charlie Chan movies, on which ERB commented were being popped out at the rate of three or four a year to a profitable tune it is obvious that the same could have been done with Tarzan.  One imagines that ERB urged MGM to do so.  MGM chose to pass on the profits.  One asks why?

     As the decade wore on ERB became more and more dependent on the movies for income.  Book sales must have lagged overall while he had no major successes after Tarzan And The City Of Gold.  Lion Man’s sales were disappointing while it is difficult to see its successors doing any better.  He was off the radio after 1935 while the comic strip was not a major contributor to his income.  Thus MGM controlled his purse strings.

     ERB’s finances were desperate after his movie venture if 1935-36.  He had those notes oming due.  MGM might have helped him along by putting out two or three quick Tarzans, instead at this crucial moment there was the long hiatus from 1936 to 1939.  With no movie money coming in for three long years the spendthrift writer must have been driven to the wall contributing to his decision to exile himself to Hawaii where he lived on a pittance.

     The appearance in Hawaii is that he was a broken man seeking solace in alchohol.  In ’41 and ’42 in quick succession Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, note the mocking tone of the title, and Tarzan’s New York Adventure were made.  As they intended to drop the series, the release of one per year for those two years may have been a calculated insult, both could be viewed as mocking films.  A great deal of work has to be done to determine how Burroughs was perceived in Hollywood.  I suspect as somewhat of a joke. 

     In the early novles when Tarzan needed money he made another run on the gold of Opar.  Now living in actual poverty in Hawaii MGM made a movie where large gold nuggets lay at the bottom of a pool while Tarzan knew of a place where gold could be scooped out of veins by the bucketful.  But ERB’s ability to turn a buck now depended on MGM, so the notion could be viewed as a mockery, especially as the mine was Tarzan’s but it was to be exploited by others i.e. MGM.

     As it is possible that MGM now saw ERB as a wreck, totally defeated, they decided to wrap thier involvement up with the succeeding movie.  Their object of the destruction of Burroughs having been realized, they lost interest abandoning the series.

      They certainly had not exhausted the possibilities of story lines.  Nor had the series become unprofitable as Sol Lesser proved for a decade or more.  The probable reason is simply that with Burroughs out of the  picture their intent was realized.  So as a farewell gesture they lectured Tarzan on his attitude toward the Law by which I mean to say the Jewish Law.

     As the New York Adventure begins some circus types abduct Boy to perform as an animal trainer in their circus.  As I watch the picture from this vantage point it is easy to see how MGM is ridiculing the ape man.

     After ten years of living with Jane, during which her good cooking has fattened the feral boy up Tarzan still can’t put together a complete sentence.  He’s still at the Me Tarzan, you Jane stage or the even simpler, Tarzan, Jane.  Boy, who was found in the jungle two years previously, has learned a great deal from the very literate Jane, even being able to write cursively although weak in orthography, But then the kid’s big for his age of three.

     So if Boy could learn to speak intelligently from Jane why after ten years of living with Jane is Tarzan still grunting?  Not only grunting but he appears to be simple minded, purely a natural savage.  He doesn’t even act like he knows his way around the jungle.

     But Jane and Tarzan set out to find Boy in the big wide world with a twenty-five or fifty pound bag of nuggets slung over the Big Fella’s shoulder.  Let me say here that the average viewer is not nearly as critical as I am here.  The animal scenes are actually pretty thrilling while Boy’s fight with the lion using a stick must have bowled the kids over.  So, while my point of view here is to understand how MGM mocked Burroughs and disparaged Tarzan, as a theatre experience New York Adventure is not a bad movie.

     MGM’s attempt to ridicule Tarzan in the first film was not nearly so successful as in this one.  Tarzan and Jane in clothes lose all their charm.  Jane although dressed stylishly becomes just an ordinary looking woman.  A little on the frumpy side, actually.  Although Maureen O’ Sullivan was a beautiful woman in any circumstances the insouciance and verve of her jungle raiment and demeanor is completely gone in a suit and hat.  Not the same.

     Tarzan, or Weissmuller in a double breasted suit while handsome is not commanding.  So, right away Tarzan and Jane are demi-gods brought to earth.  The scene in the tailor’s shop with the Chinese tailors might also be a joke on Burroughs bringing to mind Charlie Chan.  Tarzan’s primitive manner of speech just becomes ludicrous and oafish in New York city.  You can take the feral boy out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the feral boy.  Here the contest becomes one of Tarzan’s law versus the law of the legal system and by extension the Jewish Law.  Tarzan fights the law and the law wins just as the Jewish Law did over Burroughs.

     Thus the crucial part of the movie begins in the ludicrous scene in the courtroom.  The trial is being held for the custody of Boy.  On the one side are Buck and his circus associate who have kidnapped and actually enslaved Boy; they have no claim on him legitimate or otherwise.  On the other side are his apparent parents, Tarzan and Jane.  Tarzan had wanted to handle the situation  according to his own law but Jane, as usual in the movie version , dissuaded him, telling him to rely on the law of the legal system and by inference the Jewish Law.  I hope Tarzan hadn’t forgotten how vilely Jane betrayed him just the previous year.

     Jane lets slip that she and Tarzan ‘found’ Boy in the jungle.  Boy is not the issue of Tarzan or Jane.  In this zany courtroom scene the ‘ownership’ of Boy thus becomes unclear.  It seems that the kidnappers and enslavers who are about to sell Boy to a Brazilian circus have as much claim to the kid as his ostensible parents.  This is apparently ‘law.’

     Tarzan reacting in the tried and true jungle manner grabs the opposing attorney and dumps him bodily into the jury box.  The act of violence proves him an unfit parent.  The trial is interrupted.  Waiting for the trial to resume Jane concedes to Tarzan that as usual she was wrong, his law is better than the Law.  Coming to life Tarzan announces in amazing pidgin English:  Tarzan find Boy.  Slightly obscene in its application actually, but why nitpick?  Tarzan crashes through a twelfth story or so window which luckily has an ample ledge.  If logic isn’t essential to your enjoyment of an ‘action’ film the next few sequences are quite thrilling.

     The end result is that Tarzan is taken into custody and delivered before the kindliest judge who ever graced the bench.  Now, there can be no doubt that Tarzan offended the Majesty of the Law by rioting in court.  Under Jewish Law the accused is guilty until proven innocent but is supposed to gratefully accept any verdict just or not.

     He is then duly convicted of what is apparently considered a misdemeanor or even an offense rather than a felony as his crime only carried a sentence of thirty days and sentenced as guilty, which he was.  It is important to remember at this point that Tarzan has been convicted as a criminal.  He has a criminal record from this point on.  The judge generously suspends the sentence but remember Tarzan is still guilty.

     Tarzan mutters some more memorable pidgin English to the effect of ‘Tarzan bad, law good.’  Thus Tarzan is subsumed to the collective culture giving up his independence.  No longer as the Invincible or Triumphant will he pass judgment on jungle offenders or Stalinites.

     The judge even invades his territory up there on the Escarpment as a right and as the Law assuming paramountcy in Tarzan’s former Jungletopia.  The judge advises Tarzan that he will visit him on a fishing trip.  Tarzan says something like: ‘Judge come’, rather than ‘Bring money.  Tarzan bailiwick.  No license, no fishee.’  Or he could simply have arrested the judge, convicted him of the offence of fishing wihout a license, make him a criminal, and then suspend the sentence, appropriating the fish and iviting the criminal to a fish fry.

     Tarzan wasn’t that quick and from this point on he has a criminal record in Tinseltown.  MGM successfully emasculated Burroughs and his Big Bwana.  After ten years  MGM succeeded in its goal.  It is probably for that reason they abaondoned this profitable series.  It wasn’t that they had run out of ideas which is an absurd supposition with a couple hundred writers on the lot but that they had said what they meant to say.

     It would seem that this part of the series was the primary concern of the MGM executives.  If as John Howard Lawson said, that nothing found its way into a movie unless it was approved by the executives, then this long ten-year persecution of both Burroughs and Tarzan must have come from the top- that is Louis B. Mayer.  Mayer who undoubtedly to the ADL/AJC would then be acting as an agent of the Jewish people, religion, race, species or however they would have it.

     While it is true that 50-60% of the US Communist Party was Jewish the remaining 40-50% weren’t.  Thus the Jewish supremacy was not part of their goal.  Even in the Socialist Homeland of the USSR where anti-Semitism was an actual crime, the Jews were systematically slaughtered by the Central Committee under the direction of Stalin.  Thus the goy Communists had a program of their own differing from that of the Jews.  This became clear and obvious after the establishment of Israel in 1948 when the two factions began to drift apart.  The Left is also immune to charges of anti-Semitism.

     Communism was nothing new in the nineteenth century, it was merely a reformulation of ideals that can be traced back to the dawn of consciousness.  The great Swiss mythologist, J.J. Bachofen, on whom too much praise cannot be heaped, is the earliest student of human consciousness known to me.  Unfortunately with the exception of a volume of excerpts his work has not been translated into English.  The excerpts speak volumes, however.

     Bachofen, very likely the first, recognized that the Matriarchal Age preceeded the Patriarchal Age and the developing Scientific Age but he also discerned an age preceeding the Matiarchal that he called the Hetaeric.  A large number of modern minds have never made it past the Hetaeric.  Thus all four ages of consciousness exist side by side with the five different human species.

     Once again the Top Dog enters the picture.  Which consciousness will prevail?  It will readily be seen that the highest form of consciousness’ the Scienfific- is in the most danger.  One only has to look at the developments in France and Belgium to shudder.

     The modern form of the Hetaeric developed in Medieval Europe with such groups as the Beghards and Bequines, the Anabaptists and the Free Spirits.  These beliefs were incorporated into those of the LIbertines and Jacobins and thence into Communism.  The program may be sloganized as Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.  Like all such organizations the slogan is developed with more malice toward the established order as one moves up the ladder of initiation.

     In many ways the ideas of Edgar Rice Burroughs are not in conflict with the Communists whole ideals do reflect universal longings in one form or another.  Like them he sees civilization as an imposition on the individual.  One of the charms of New York Adventure is the contrast between the natural ‘good’ ideals of the Mutia Escarpment and corruption of civilization.  One’s heart aches for the lost paradise.  Louis Prima humorously summed it up in a post-war comic song:  Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo.  It may be coincidence but then it’s possible the songwriter at least had Tarzan’s New York Adventure in the back of his mind.

     Actually New York Adventure may have had the largest audience of all Tarzan movies.  According to IMDb: Trivia this was the first film shown free to servicemen overseas.  So there’s a good chance that a few millions of all those men in uniform saw the movie for nothing plus the theatre distribution on the home front.

     Now, when the Communists say equality they mean just that, they don’t mean equal rights but no evidences of distinction whatsoever.  Race (or species), income, sex, education or anything else.  The ideal is a page full of rows of zeroes.  Communism is the rule of pure envy, a terror that one may not be able to compete on an equal basis.  On a practical level this translates into the Soviet and Chinese models where the brutal seize power and follow a program of to the victors belong the spoils.  This is because the human mind cannot function in an equal manner.  The Scientific model is beyond the capabilities of the untutored mind.  Hence one has the deplorable state of affairs of today where the scientific  demands of society crumble before the stunted religious expression of the human mind whether it be Moslemism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or whatever.  Freudianism has allowed the basic criminality of the human consciousness to dominate.  There is today no criminal attitude that is not dominant or in the process of becoming dominant.  The dormancy of resistance to criminal develpements is nothing less than startling.  The human consciousness seems to be paralyzed.  This naturally would be the end result of equality to the Communist mind.

     The movie Tarzan fits this ideal.  MGM’s Tarzan is quite frankly, stupid.  He is not a commanding figure, but a lovable clown.  His love for Jane allows him to be led by the nose until her counsels become disastrous at which point Tarzan beats her out by mindless violence, never with any planning, always an impulsive knee jerk reaction.  Thus this duncelike Tarzan is always correct over the educated civilized Jane.  There is a subtle message there that Communist writers say they weren’t clever enough to get past the executive censors who we are led to believe wanted such sentiments censored.  I doubt both posits.

     We then get to Communist notions of sex, sexuality and family.  There can be no doubt that Tarzan and Jane were doing what was then known as ‘shacking up.’  Their romance was a version of ‘free love.’  A common access to women is the Communist ideal.  They were opposed to marriage and the ideal of the family, preferring communal living with free access to every woman.  Any notion of female ‘liberation’ always gets down to the notion that every woman should make herself available on demand to any man after the homosexual manner; a guick bang and we’ll see you around.

     Had Cyril Hume had his way there would have been no movie Jane.  He had already written her out in his first draft.  If he had had his way Tarzan would have had a succession of brief affairs.  Wham! Bam! Thank-you Ma’am! and off swinging into the jungle again .  Thus the movie Tarzan would have realized the Communist ideal completely but for reasons that remain unknown.

     One should note that Hume tried to kill Jane off in Tarzan Finds A Son so that Tarzan could live a more libertine existence.  By then the family role of Tarzan, Jane and Boy became established but the writers were always trying to break it up going so far as having a court award Boy to his kidnappers and enslavers.

     As I say, it isn’t clear why the Studio made the decision to include Jane from the beginning.  the Jewish attitude toward women was and is as brutal as that of the goy Communists.  From the White Slavery days to the present Jews have exploited the women of Central and Eastern Europe without either shame or mercy, whether goy or Jewish.  Prostitution of women on the Lower East Side of NYC showed a psychology of complete lack of self respect.

     On the other hand, as intermediaries between God and mankind, Jews feel they are entitled to whatever they want which includes free access to women.  Thus one has the sexual morality of Hollywood.  That morality has been propagated around the world by movies, such as for instance, the Tarzan series.  While you can talk women into any fashion, the women are always the losers, the victims; as Yoko One said- the niggers of the world.

     The psychological damage being inflicted on humans by the brutal approach to living is astounding.  No matter what you tell yourself the effects of evil living are murderous.  You cannot lie to yourself.

     Consider the words of one of Stalin’s mass executioners, G.G. Yagoda as he himself was about to be executed.  Simon Sebag Montefiori: Stalin: The Court Of The Red Czar, pp. 220-223:

     Yagoda told his interrogator:  “You can put down in your report to Yezhof that I said there must be a God after all.  From Stalin I deserved nothing but gratitude for my faithful service; from God, I deserved the most severe punishment for having violated his commandments thousands of times.  Now look where I am and judge for yourself; is there a God or not?”

     Yagod’as plight doesn’t prove the existence of God nor does his ‘punishment’ which was so richly merited and for which deeds he shows no remorse do anything for his victims, but his attitude does indicate the conflict in his mind as he carried out his orders.  The conflict found expression in his need for pornography and violating the innocence of very young prepubescent girls.  Unhealthy mental states always find expression in sexual obsessions.  Once again, look at the world today.  Such perversions male and female are rampant.  And don’t think they aren’t perversions.  The propaganda today that would make you think they’re normal is just the sort of denial Yagoda experienced.

     Some say the Victorian role of woman was negative but I’d rather have a mother who had self-respect than one who was at the beck and call of any scuzbag with a hard-on.

     So, in their subtle way the Tarzan films were anti-marriage and anti-family while being for female promiscuity.

     These ideals were placed in an African utopia, a place that appears on no map, the Mutia Escarpment.  the place is such a parallel universe pilots can’t even see it until they apparently pass through an interface and are suddenlyconfronted by it.  Using what appears to be identical footage the scene is replicated in both Finds A Son and New York Adventure.

     Both Burroughs and Communists are aligned in their views of the evils of civlilization.  Civilization, but not science or technology.  It seems that Tarzan has some Rube Goldberg genius for inventing 1930s technological items like dishwashers, fans, etc.  In fact, for being an inarticulate boob without the ability to use verbs his inventive genius is nothing less than startling.  I don’t believe the MGM Tarzan had even seen a wheel, yet astoundingly he has mastered the concepts of wheels, pulleys and leverage from scratch.  That’s as good as the literary Tarzan teaching himself to read.  Well, Henry Ford was nearly inarticulate too and look how he changed the world.

     Further, the screenwriters, once Boy is introduced, try to break up the familiy.  In Finds A Son one has the bizarre situation where Jane lures Tarzan into an inescapable pit while she, supposedly a mother, gives Boy to the adventurers.

     One may wonder at Hume’s own childhood and upbringing.  Not only is Hume sending Boy off to England, but he attempts to kill Jane off thus completely destroying the family leaving Tarzan alone in the jungle.  Jane takes a spear in the back, square on the spine.  IN the original script she was then dead.  Burroughs politely, even apologetically, explained to MGM that eliminating Jane was not wise as he himself had discovered when he tried to kill Jane off.  After consideration MGM agreed, so that when Tarzan forgives Jane for her betrayal she miraculously recovers.

     Bear in mind that as John Howard Lawson says, nothing went into the script that was not either suggested from above or approved by them.  Compare ERB’s scene with the producer Milt Smith/Thalberg and his scenarist.  That writer was Cyril Hume.  So it is reasonable to assume that the scene was dictated to him.  For whatever reason then, Mayer and his executives wanted the family broken up.

     In Tarzan’s New York Adventure not only is there a threatened abduction but an actual one.  Boy is taken to New York City by his kidnappers.  This time not only is Jane near death but the script leads us to believe that both Tarzan and Jane have died from a hundred foot or so fall when the vine they are swinging on is severed by a Jaconi native.  Thre grass around them is set afire so that they will be burned beyond recognition much as Jane was in Tarzan The Untamed.  Just as Burroughs had a death wish for Jane so, it appears, do the MGM execs for both she and Tarzan.  Fortunately displaying superb equality with his human counterprts the chimp has more brains than anyone else involved rather miraculously rescuing the pair.

     You may argue that this is the story.  Yes, but it doesn’t have to be the story.  Lesser’s stories were quite different.  the stories of each represent subliminal values.  Dream wish fulfillments a la Sigmund Freud.  If I have been the script writer at MGM able to do my own writing the stories would have been completely different reflecting my own psychological interests and needs.  The point is both MGM and the Reds wished Tarzan and Burroughs dead.  Of course, if they had died they wouldn’t have had a movie.

     Now, whenever Tarzan and Jane are visited up there on the Escarpment they are invariably visited by greedy capitalists seeking ivory, gold or riches of one sort or another.  One may take the Escarpment as the Socialist Homeland where everything is equal, simple and perfect.  Anarchy of the highest order.  Civilization is represented by New York City and the circus as the Capitalist Homeland.

     This contrasts the Communist version of a time of human perfection when the need for government will disappear and a perfected anarchy will come into existence.  Freud touched on this problem somewhat in his Civilization And Its Discontents.  Before Freud J.G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough went into the problem extensively while Burroughs dwells on the problem throughout the corpus.  Indeed, in this scene, ERB and the Communists are in agreement, as were many, many people who were discontented with civilization.  Tarzan, Jane and Boy are actually living out the Communist ideal up there in Cloud Cuckooland on the Escarpment.  This fact causes a problem for both executives and Communists, where they don’t coincide, as they are in love with Tarzan ideal also as, indeed, who wouldn’t be?

     While their original intent may have been to ridicule Tarzan into extinction his powerful appeal to the ‘masses’ undoubtedly prevented this.  No kidding, folks, the NO. 1 Commissar in the entire free or enslaved world loved the character.  That must have counted for something in Hollywood.

     So, in a way, the movie Tarzan was a symbol of Communism for the Party faithful, in contrast to the greedy capitalists who invaded Cloud Cuckooland up on the Escarpment much as the Reds invaded ERB’s dreamland of Opar.  There are many conflicts in life as we wander through this lonesome valley.

     It follows then that Communists had no problem injecting Red ideals into whatever movie they chose whether the executives approved each and every scene, as we are told by Lawson, or not.  The Studios themselves were fashioned after the USSR government with the Party leader on top surrounded by a Central Committee that ruled with an iron fist.  The jobs paid so well that rather than lose them one constantly looked to the top for direction.  To err was to be cast into relative poverty blacklisted by every studio.  HUAC didn’t invent the Hollywood blacklist, the studios did.

     Burroughs was essentially blacklisted while MGM played cat and mouse with him until they tired of it in late 1941 or early 1942.

     The War then changed the direction of the game as ERB finally became the war correspondent he had always wanted to be.  No matter what MGM might do, he would always be Edgar Rice Burroughs to his public.

 

RECAPITULATION

1. Communist oppostion probably forced ERB into self-publication.

2.  Tarzan The Invincible his first self-published title attacked the Communists.

3.  The sequel Tarzan Triumphant did the same with a probable covert criticism of the Jews.

4.Trader Horn was released by MGM which somehow led to their signing Burroughs and Tarzan to avenge imagined wrongs.

5.  Completely taken by Trader Horn Burroughs wrote Tarzan And The Leopard Men.  He had premonitions of error in signing away the movie rights to Tarzan.

6.  MGM released Tarzan, The Ape Man turning a cosmopolitan Tarzan into a feral boy.

7.  ERB countered with Tarzan And The Lion Man ridiculing MGM

8.MGM continuing on its program released Tarzan And His Mate but seemed to let the contract lapse.

9.  In this hiatus Ashton Dearholt lured Burroughs into producing his own Tarzan movie.

10.  Driven deep into debt by Dearholt Burroughs was all but bankrupt, now dependent almost entirely on MGM for income.

11.  Burroughs was relieved suspiciously by a man who was most certainly associated with ERB’s enemies.

12.  ERB continued to live at the limit or beyond the limit of his income which was now derived largely from MGM.

13.  Unable to sustain hs life style Burroughs exiled himself to Hawaii where he became a heavy drinker.

14.  MGM released Tarzan’s New York Adventure in which Tarzan is brought within the Law losing his independence much as Burroughs lost his.

15.  MGM sells its contract to Lesser abandoning the series and its interest in Burroughs.

16.  Beginning in 1943 Lesser’s movies are very successful restoring Burroughs’ prosperity.

17.  Burroughs becomes a war correspondent for the duration all but abandoning his literary career as he returned from exile in post-war years dying shortly thereafter.

 

 

A Review

Themes And Variation

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18  Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 3 of 10 parts

by

R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine- ERBzine

 

Part 3: The Source

 

     Unlike the rest of Burroughs’ novels you don’t have to look very far for the main source of this one.  While Tarzan And  The Leopard Men was heavily influenced by the MGM movie Trader Horn Lion Man is the story of the famed MGM expedition to Africa to film it.

     In Chapter 1 ERB provides  a fictional account of the decision to make the expedition.  In the next few chapters he gives a fictional account of the safari.  Excising the story within the story Burroughs’ account is reasonably accurate, allowing for a little authorial license that is.

     The safare was active for seven months in 1929.  The safari was a cause celebre in Hollywood as the expedition ran up what were enormous costs for the time.  While they were in Africa Black Friday, the collapse of the stock market, occured plunging the nation into depression so that money became of more consequence to MGM.  There was speculation that the dirctor, W.S. Van Dyke would bankrupt the company.  Like Howard Hughes’ famous difficulties with Hell’s Angels of 1930 the bills kept rolling in but when the receipts were counted like Hughes’ movie there was a tidy profit left over.  If nothing else the hullabaloo was mere advance publicity and cheap at the price.

     MGM even liked the movie so much they did it again in 1953’s Mogambo.  While I see Mogambo as a remake of Trader Horn the movie site lists its antecedents as Red Dust, 1932 and Congo Maisie of 1940.  Haven’t seen either. 

     The 1929 expedition was incredibly audacious.  On the liner notes of my VCR copy of Trader Horn MGM describes the expedition like this:

     When this landmark film ws made, parts of Africa were still uncharted.  The savannahs teemed with big game, the rivers with crocodiles and snakes.  Few Europeans or Americans dared enter what was then called the Congo.

     That was true and still is, MGM rushed in where few Europeans and Americans dared to tread.  Africa was to transit from the stone age to the age of science in the blink of an eye.  As Van Dyke noted, barely pacified, already the Kikiyu or Kukuas as Van Dyke called them were organizing resistance.  A mere savage like Jomo Kenyatta was attending Oxford University in England.  Truly astonishing that a stone age African with no familiarity with either techonology or science could be listened to attentively by the most highly educated Europeans.  What could Kenyatta actually understand?  Would they have given equal attention to the mutterings of an Appalachian farm boy?  The mind boggles.

     It had been a mere forty years since Henry Morton Stanley had covered the same ground to relieve Emin Pasha.  Only Forty years earlier Stanley had been the first Euro-American to penetrate the Ituri Rain Forest  Only forty years earlier Stanley could claim the discovery of the fabled Mountains Of The Moon.  In the interim few Euro-Americans had been there.  Gosh, even the great beast the Okapi had just been discovered in the Ituri..

     Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda were now occupied by British governors.  The ancient kings of Uganda and Unyoro were no more.  As Van Dyke states, the Africans were held down by the few Europeans with an Iron Hand.  Ah, you say, the European Iron hand.  Abominable.  But when weren’t the African tribesmen held down by an Iron Hand.  But then it was Black or Moslem and not White.  The venerable ancient kings of Uganda wanted to hold a funeral for some distant relative during the time of Stanley so they selected a couple thousand Ugandans, slit their throats and dumped them in the grave as company for their dead relative.  The Ugandan king slaughtered a few of his own people in an attempt to amuse Stanley.  TV had not reached Uganda back then.

     King Mteses’ gangs roamed the countryside after dark murdering any citizens they met.  Well, that was normal.  Now White Bwanas arrested troublesome tribesmen and threw them in jail for a period rather than killing them.  That wasn’t normal.  Dead men file no complaints.

     So a benign rule in White hands was less desirable than a malign rule in Black hands.  Such is the way the human mind works.  In the African case the native king owns everything including oneself and that is acceptable.  In another invaders occupy a few thousand acres producing food that makes you better fed than ever you were on your own and that is bad.  Better savagery among equals than civilization as an inferior.

     Africa was not yet familiar with the wheel when a guy with the nickname ‘Woody’ shows up with nine-ton genearator trucks.  Sound trucks!  The talkies had been around only two years and they already had sound trucks.

     Van Dyke in his justification of himself to MGM in his Horning  Into Africa has this to say.  p. 212:

    On the screen we had over thirty-five varieties of African big game, with our actors working in the scenes with them.  We had the dances, the songs, the native life of over fifteen African tribes, and on our film was a thin dark strip running down the edge which constituted the sound they made in all their different activities.

     …on our film we had a thin dark strip running down the edge which constituted the sound they made in all their different activities….  Think of it.  Stone age Africans captured as stone age people by equipment of which the Africans could have no concept, no possible way of accounting for, let alone understanding it, that might have as well have been the work of aliens beamed down from outer space or one of Bertie Well’ visitors slipped through the plane of a parallel universe.  Was there any difference between Wells’ English visitors to his utopia of 1923 when he viewed the men of a parallel universe as gods and the Hollywood Mutia and Riano saw when transported from or ‘beamed’ down from Africa?  Not much I would say.

     If the Africans thought Henry Morton Stanley was supernatural what in the world did they think of Woody Van Dyke, his cameras and fleet of trucks.

     What did Van Dyke think about, talk about, such an excellent adventure?  p. 26:

     I did not realize what he meant by the adjective “amazing”.  It made me think of certain American film producers.  The only thing about it that had been amazing, to my mind, was its inception.  After all, for a Hollywood producer (Irving Thalberg) to conceive the idea of sending twenty-five or thirty Hollywood motion picture actors with ninety-two tons of equipment into the center of Africa, to go prancing around over the thorn bush terrain, considering the great cost in dollars and cents involved was a rather amazing idea.  Nobody but an adventurer would have thought of it, no one but a goof would have tried to do it, and no but a clown could have gotten away with it.

     Van Dyke considering the term ‘amazing’ further:

     Previous to our debut the largest safari to enter Africa had been that of Prince Edward, a stupendous undertaking with about a dozen whites, fifty blacks, ten or twelve cars, and possibly seven or eight tons of equipment.  His safari had not been underway many days when his Royal Highness was called home by the illness of his fathr, King George, but the fact that the white hunters had maneuvered such a large safari over several miles of Africa without a casualty and with no one dying from fever was considered remarkable.

     We had been in Africa more than seven months with thirty-five whites, one hundred ninety-two blacks, thirty-four cars, one generator truck and two sound wagons.  The speedometers on the cars showed that we had traveled over nine thousand miles of African soil, to say nothing of rail, lake and river travel and distances covered on foot, and we had brought everyone back- black and white.

     And furthermore they not only had it on a film strip, which was old technology by white standards but unimaginable by African standards and running down that strip of film was a thin black line indicating sound.  What would a stone age African think seeing and hearing himself on film going around and around on reels like wheels which in themselves had been but recently seen in Africa.  Jomo Kenyatta was at university in England.  They would have laughed at that Appalachian farm boy if he showed up for registration.

     So, MGM and Van Dyke provided ERB with a readymade story of epic proportions.

     We know he read the book.  The question is did Van Dyke regale him with other stories and details during ERB’s five week stint on the MGM lot, a little additional color not found in the book.

     Now we can turn to Burroughs’ story and align it with that of Van Dyke.  ERB is writing a novel so he doesn’t have to stay too close to the facts, he can play fast and loose with them.  Let’s see how he does.

     In the first place he converts the story from that of Trader Horn to Tarzan, The Ape Man.  Rather than filming Trader Horn they are filming the story of a feral boy who was raised among the lions.  p. 9

     “Joe’s written a great story- it’s going to be a knock-out.  You see this fellow’s born in the jungle and brought up by a lioness.  He pals around with the lions all his life- doesn’t know any other friends.  The lion is king of beasts; when the boy grows up he’s king of the lions; so he bosses the whole menagerie.  See?  Big shot of the jungle.”

     “Sounds familiar.”  Commented Orman.

     Yes, it does sound familiar, ERB says with tongue in cheek and a wink at we readers.  It sounds familiar to us too.  As the Lion Man the studio has picked Stanley Obroski, a giant cowardly fellow.

     As Harry Carey, a bete noire of ERB, played Trader Horn Burroughs may be projecting a little Carey into Obroski’s cowardice as vengeance although one assumes that Johnny Weissmuller is the model but Obroski isn’t that similar to him either.

     As a leading lady ERB creates Naomi Madison.  I’m sure there are a lot of insults and jokes about MGM in the book.  A lot or most of them may be lost on us today.  However Naomi may have been modeled on Irving Thalberg’s wife Norma Shearer.  Naomi=Norma.

     Some say Shearer made it on her own while there are those backbiters who say she got all those plum roles because she was married to the producer, Irving Thalberg.  I’m not too hep on early thirties films but it is possible a little favoritism may have been involved.  In the novel Burroughs casts Naomi in a rather unfavorable light as the lover of Director Orman.  Perhaps Thalberg saws such things in a negative light.

     It may be possible that Shearer was or was reported to be seeing someone on the side.  If so, ERB was taking some chances.

     He does have her down as having been a hash slinger before becoming The Madison.  There was a period in New York when the Shearer family was down at the heels when Norma was seeking theatrical work that she waited tables.  Bringing up that fact would not have endeared ERB to the Thalbergs or MGM.  Norma would probably have been more dangerous than Irving.

     The Thalbergs wouldn’t have mattered too much because Irving had a heart attack in 1933.  When he returned to work several months later Mayer had stripped him of his position.  He became just another producer for a couple years before he died in 1936.  Shearer got no more roles, plums or otherwise.  So as it turned out ERB wouldn’t have had to worry about either.

     ERB doubles Naomi with a stunt woman named Rhonda Terry.  As no comparable figure was on the safarie she must have been only necessary for the story.

     Van Dyke organized and led the expedition being the supreme authority, the actual Big Bwana.  As might be expected of a safari of this size and complexity there were numerous problems naturally occurrring while Van Dyke himself as a Hollywood director trying to realize his vision of the movie was rather cavalier with the landscape.  The native hierarchy was in disarray from the time of Stanley now having a Birtish hierarchy overlain on the native.  But the British had only been there for a couple decades while the native revolt led by Kenyatta and his Kikiyu was already underway.  As Burroughs indicates Leopard Men were roaming Africa while the Kikiyu would erupt as the Mau Mau only twenty years hence.

     The African chiefs considered every human, every animal, every stick or tree on their territory as their personal private property.  There hadn’t been enough time as yet for that understanding to die out.  And now we have a real muilti-cultural conflict brewing.  Van Dyke shows up with a fleet of cars and trucks such as was new to the sight of the Africans.  Van Dyke proceeds to drive these trucks all over Kenya, Uganda, the Congo and Tanganyika as they were then known.  Along the way he chops down trees that don’t belong to him, if you see what I mean, as though he was the sovereign of the land and not the chiefs.

     From the African point of view the man was contemptuous of Africans and disrespectful.  Van Dyke, in what we must assume was his innocence, was completely unaware of his desecrations.  His culture was not only White American, which would have been insult enough to the Africans, but he was of the fiilm capitol of the world, Hollywood, which respects no man or mountain in making a movie.  Van Dyke’s mind functioned on one premise alone- make this movie.

     At one point he wanted to shoot a scene near Lake Albert, probably didn’t even make the final cut.  At that point of the lake a volcanic dyke serveral feet high formed a barrier preventing access.  There was no way to get the trucks and equipment over the barrier.   The solution seemed rational to Van Dyke.  When no one was looking he got some dynamite and blew a big hole in this barrier.  Problem solved from Woody’s point of view.  I don’t know what the Africans thought about this desecration of the landscape but Van Dyke does report what seems to be a fair amount of unrest among the African bearers.

     In Burroughs’ story the movie company goes directly to the Ituri Rain Forest but Van Dyke began his filming at Murchison Falls where the  Nile flows from Lake Victoria.  After having brought his crew and equipment to the railhead at Jinja he crossed the lake to Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda.

     He wanted to film at Murchison Falls where, as he says, the entire flood of the Nile passing from Lake Victoria passes through a gorge only fifteen feet wide.  As he said a good broad jumper could leap the Nile at that point.  If he wanted to take the chance.

     Now, the British had determined the area at the foot of the falls to be so infested with the sleeping sickness bearing Tsetse flies that they had made it off limits to man and beast.  Well, Woody had a movie to make and wanted to make it in that exact spot.  In fact several scenes in Trader Horn are filmed there.

     Disregarding what we must assume were the real dangers of the place Van Dyke cajoled an exception for this safari taking his cast and bearers into this Tsetse infested area.  It will be remembered that Edwina Booth, the female star, was incapacitated for life because of diseases contracted in Africa.

     What seems normal to a movie maker may seem bizarre to a less interested observer.  Van Dyke wanted a crocodile scene involving an island.  There was no island where he wanted so he loaded the spot with fill until there was one.  Another neat job of problem solving.  Then he wanted a large nuber of crocodiles around the island so he slaughered game as lure for the crocs.  They came, they saw, the ate, but they wouldn’t spend the night as Woody wanted.

     So now Woody shoots some more wild life to lure the crocs to the island while he built a large barrier.  Once the crocs were within he closed the gate.  Well and good from Woody’s point of view but from the multi-cultural point of view of the crocs they either just broke through or climbed the six foot barrier.  Wasn’t high enough.

     W.S. Van Dyke was one determined guy.  He had a movie to make.  His next step was once the crocs got inside and they wanted out at, oh say, 2:00 AM, Woody got his whole crew of actors armed with torches and poles to place themselves between the crocs and freedom to force them to stay inside.  In a quite thrilling description he tells of stuffing burning torches down the throats of crocodiles.  When he said stay, he meant it.  Harry Carey, apparently some sort of testosterone driven madman, was a stalwart but Van Dyke even had Edwina Booth on the barrier torch in hand.  Van Dyke lauds his crew as well he should have but one is struck by a certain degree of lunacy.  Or, perhaps, Scotch.

     Burroughs draws inference away from Van Dyke by making Tom Orman a different physical type but as ERB was working from Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa and possibly personal communication from Van Dyke, or members of his crew it is impossible for Orman not to reflect W.W. ‘One Shot’ Woody Van Dyke.

     Burroughs makes Orman a drunk or at least a real tyrant when he has been drinking.  Van Dyke records some heavy drinking of his own.  He slipped right into the colonial practice of’Sundowners’, that is when the sun went down the bottle came out.  There may be some factual basis then for Orman’s behavior.

     Orman heads for the Ituri through an area he has been warned not to go that would correspond to Van Dyke’s insistence on filming at the Murchison Falls where he ws forbidden to go but overcame the injunction.

     The attack of the Bansutos is ERB’s invention however there were a couple serious native disaffections in the safari.  Late in the expedition the Kikiyu show up, which I would think meant that they were unhappy with the expedition while Van Dyke describes them as a surly lot.

     In Burroughs’ story the safari falls apart after the Bansuto attack but then at the end of the story he reforms the safari at the Omwami Falls in the story or Murchison Falls in fact.  The party atmosphere at the Falls may reflect his impression of Van Dyke’s account.

     It was probably with a sigh of relief that the British bid farewell to this troublemaking Hollywood film crew.  Or perhaps, just perhaps, they wired MGM to get these people out of here.  I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised.

     So far as I know the only two accounts of Van Dyke’s excellent African adventure are his own and that of Burroughs.

     It is a pity MGM didn’t have the foresight to compile an extended account of the safari with hundreds of pictures.  In the liner notes to my VCR copy they say:

…director W.S. Van Dyke and his heroic cast and crew camped there for a year, hauling eighty tons of equipment through the equatorial jungle.  They battled disease and predators, to risk their lives to film this story of two men- legendary trader Alfred Aloysius Horn (Harry Carey) and his naive protoge Peru (Cisco Kid Duncan Renaldo)- and their struggle to reclaim a beautiful woman (Edwina Booth) who was lost in the jungle as a baby and raised by indigenous tribes.

     True enough as far as it goes.  Van Dyke’s obviously sanitized narrative takes it a little further, Burroughs’ fiction may reveal a little more, but Edwina Booth who was never able to work again adds another detail.  She petitioned MGM for compensation but MGM refused to consider it for this heroic, crocodile battling member of the cast who battled predators and disease and lost.

     What a fabulouss story.  ERB had a lot to work with and turned out a fabulous effort.

Next Part four of ten parts: The Safari To The Capture Of Stanley Obroski

 

    

 

     

A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part one of ten parts

by

R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine-ERBzine

Preface

     As has been seen 1931 was a very eventful year for ERB.  The viewing of Trader Horn was a seminal event in his life.  The movie became a major influence on his next Tarzan novel- Tarzan And The Leopard Men.  As has been noted, in April he signed the contract with MGM.

     Reports vary but it appears that he may have sold the movie rights for the first film for twenty-two thousand dollars plus a five week employment contract at a thousand dollars a week.  It is fair to assume that ERB spent his five weeks on the MGM lot in Culver City.

     During that period of time he obviously attended conferences with Irving Thalberg so his descriptions of the ‘Boy Wonder’ are taken first hand.  One imagines that he became acquainted with the Director Woody ‘One Take’ Van Dyke.  I like to think they hit off with ERB getting some first hand accounts of Africa that showed up in Lion Man.  As he had a copy of Van Dyke’s privately printed Horning Into Africa in his library it would seem obvious that Van Dyke presented him with a copy.  Thus ERB had a fund of first hand information lacking in his earlier novels.

     One also imagines he met the African stars Mutia and Riano when they visited Hollywood.  They would have been the first Africans he had met.  There is a world of difference between Africans and American Negroes.  Perhaps for these reasons his Leopard Men varies somewhat from his usual hidden civilizations formula.

     And also he would have met his script writing counterpart Cyril Hume.  His new partner one might say.  And coincidentally Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’ Sullivan.

     One is astonished at the speed with which MGM signed Burroughs, developed a script, found actors for Tarzan and Jane, made a movie and released it a bare ten months later.  What orgzainization.!

     We know that ERB watched the result with sinking heart and bitter remorse for signing the contract.  The MGM version of his creation was the antithesis of his own.  Rather than a literate, cosmopolitan Tarzan at home both in the jungle and the capitols of Europe and cities of America the MGM Tarzan was a feral boy who wasn’t even a lord, let alone  the lord of the jungle.

     Our Man had just finished Tarzan And The City Of Gold  when he viewed the movie.  Now with his brain reeling in shock it would be a year before he got out his reply.

     In my estimation it would be his last great Tarzan novel.  The Big Bwana had been emasculated.  But the greatest of the Tarzan novels was the result.

     ERB also made it a Hollywood novel, perhaps as trenchant a criticism of the film capitol as his 1922 effort The Girl From Hollywood.   He ridiculed the whole thing.  MGM, Thalberg, the African expedition, the movie Tarzan and in a closing chapter Hollywood itself.  In his pain and hurt he drove himself to heights he had never before attained.

     Stunned by the duplicity of MGM his novel is a story of duplicity, of doubles and more doubles until one has doubles coming out one’s ears.  The story within the story, the double of the story itself, of God in Heaven but all wrong with the world is a masterpiece of imaginative fiction that transcends even the exploits of his Martian creation, Ras Thavas.

     As Leopard Men was permeated with sexual desire with a hint of madness, Lion Man is deeply involved with madness, insanity and a complete feeling of unreality.  As Tarzan says:  Sometimes I think I must be dreaming.  Yea, verily, brothers and sisters.  This story is one of dreams and nightmares but a dream of a story.

1.

     In the novel Burroughs had two major objectives: 1.  To ridicule and humiliate MGM and 2.  To show them how to use all new material in a much more imaginative way than Cyril Hume had.  Hume is probably ridiculed as both the writer Joe in the foreword and the scenarist Pluant in the Hollywood afterword.

     There can be no mistake that the introductory story refers to the Trader Horn expedition while Burroughs includes a planning session with Milt Smith/Irving Thalberg in his MGM/BO office.  Let us look at the introductory chapter carefully.

     There can be no doubt that Burroughs was included in such sessions concerning the movie Tarzan, The Ape Man so that the chapter ‘In Conference’ is an authentic snapshot of how business was conducted.

     The opening sentence is:  Mr. Milton Smith, Executive Vice President In Charge Of Productions was in conference.  There is no doubt that here Burroughs is referring to Irving Thalberg.  Burroughs goes on to describe Thalberg’s actions which were considered peculiar by everyone in Hollywood.

     Mr. Smith had a chair behind a big desk, but he seldom occupied it.  He was an imaginative dynamic person.  He required freedom and space in which to express himself.  His large chair was too small; so he paced about his office more often than he occupied the chair, and his hands interpreted his thoughts quite as fluently as his tongue.

p9.  Smith was walking around the room, acting out the scente.  He was the girl bathing in the pool in one corner of the room, and then he went to the opposite corner and was the Lion Man.

     That doesn’t sound unfriendly or hostile to me but as ERB has already identified MGM as BO (Body Odor) or Stinky Pictures Louis B. Mayer, MGM’s president, may have taken all ERB’s comments from then on as intended insults.

     In point of fact ERB’s descriptions of Smith/Thalberg seem to be accurate.  Thalberg was the subject of Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished final book The Last Tycoon.  The novel was made into a movie of the same name in 1976, the last movie directed by Elia Kazan.  Thalberg is portrayed exactly as Burroughs depicted him.

      The conventional mind seems to be unable to grasp the idiosyncrasies of genius.  The genius of Thalberg was that he was able to visualize the film in the manner Burroughs describes, alsmost as the author.  Had he failed he would have been merely weird but as he was the greatest and surest producer of the studio era the seeming eccentricity becomes an attribute of his genius.  As a writer of genius I think ERB saw Thalberg that way; how the latter of MGM interpreted ERB’s remarks may have been less generous.

     The director, Tom Orman’s character is quite similar to that of Woody Van Dyke although as the physique of Orman is opposite that of Van Dyke it is clear that Orman is intended to be more fictional.  The name Or-man can interpreted as Gold-man from the French Or which translates as gold.  As Goldman ERB may have been slamming the Jews.  ERB was less than careful in that respect in the novel.  In the last chapter ERB definitely characterized Abe Potkin as a Jew placing his conversation in dialect.  By Abe Potkin ERB may have been referring to Louis B. Mayer.  The introduction of Clayton to Abe leaves this open to conjecture.  p. 186:

     This is Mr. Potkin, John Clayton, Abe Potkin, you know,  (italics mine)

     If ERB did ridicule both Thalberg and Mayer or was perceived as doing so then he was definitely asking for trouble.  Fighting the Law in Hollywood as it were.

     Like Van Dyke who had been called in to relieve director Robert J. Flaherty on a behind schedule film White Shadows On The South Seas in which Van Dyke was successful so Orman had been called in to complete a picture being shot in Borneo.

     Just as Van Dyke was then assigned Trader Horn on location in Africa so now Orman is assigned to make the biggest African picture ever in the Ituri Rain Forest.

     ERB probably met Van Dyke in the summer of ’31 on the MGM lot.  It would seem that the two men hit it off as Orman is as well treated as Lion Man allows.  It  is to be presumed that Van Dyke presented ERB with a copy of his privately printed Horning Into Africa  at that time.

      The rest of the chapter is joshing around in a light hearted banter that was characteristic of this type of conference and introducing the members of the cast thus establishing the nature of their characters.

     A detail of interest is the following quote.  p. 8:

     “And are we going to shoot:” inquired Orman, “fifty miles from Hollywood?”

     ‘No, sir!  We’re going to send a company right to the heart of Africa to the -er-ah- what’s the name of that forest, Joe?’

     “The Ituri Forest.”

      “Yes, right to the Ituri Forest with sound equipment and everything.  Think of it, Tom!  You get the real stuff, the real natives, the jungle, the animals, the sounds.  You ‘shoot’ a giraffe and at the same time you record the actual sound of his voice.”

     “You won’t need much sound equipment for that, Milt.”

     “Why?”

     “Giraffes don’t make sounds; they’re not supposed to have any vocal organs.”

     “Well, what of it?  That was just an illustration.  But take the other animals for instance; Lions, elephants, tigers- Joe’s written a gret tiger sequence.  It’s going to yank them right out of their seats.”

     “There ain’t any tigers in Africa, Milt,”  explained the director.

     “Who says there ain’t?”    

     “I do,”  replied Orman grinning.

     “How about it, Joe?”  Smith turned toward the scenarist.

     “Well, Chief, you said you wanted a tiger sequence.”

     “Oh, what’s the difference?  We’ll make it a crocodile sequence.”

     In this instance ERB is spoofing himself.  Over the years he had all kinds of complaints for faunal inaccuracies.  The tiger bit probably hurt him the worst.  He had written a great tiger scene for the first Tarzan novel that had to be changed from the All Story magazine version to the book version.  ERB finally gets a chance to exorcise his frustration over that one.  He was also criticized for having deer in Africa, Bara the deer, of which there are none.  He first tried to bull his way through by saying he just wanted Bara the deer there.  He gave in by Tarzan The Invincible  and spoke of Bara the antelope.  This also apparently proved unacceptable as in Leopard Men he speaks of Wappi the antelope, while the name Bara disappears completely.  In the joke about the giraffe voice he is showing off knowledge while venting a little steam.

     Thus he sets the scene for the first stage of the novel, the penetration of the film company into the Ituri Rain Forest.  I found this sequence as well handled as any movie version might have been.  ERB doesn’t try to follow Van Dyke’s narrative but creates his own story based on Van Dyke’s.

     I have no doubt that there are references in this introduction and throughout the book to real people and real incidents that have gone over my head.  I have located what I can with my present knowledge but I’m sure the novel is loaded with many others.

Go to:  Part 2:  Doubles And Insanity