Watch Tarzan the Tiger
- 1 Season
Tarzan the Tiger is a 15-chapter movie serial that was released in 1929. This adventure-filled serial was directed by Henry MacRae and written by William Lord Wright, based on the character Tarzan created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was produced by the American film studio National Film Corporation in association with Tarzan, Inc., and it stars the famous Frank Merrill as Tarzan and Natalie Kingston as Jane.
As the title suggests, Tarzan's nemesis in this serial is a fierce tiger, named Igoly, that was once tamed by Tarzan himself, but was eventually set free. The main plot of the story revolves around the kidnapping of young Ramel (Al Ferguson), the brother of the Queen of Palandria (Kithnou), by the corrupt men who wish to take over the throne of the kingdom. Tarzan and Jane vowed to rescue Ramel and restore the rightful ruler back to the throne, and thus begins their journey to the kingdom of Palandria, where they encounter treacherous bandits, crocodiles, monkeys, and other dangers before finally facing off against Igoly, the tiger that poses the biggest threat to their mission.
As Tarzan, Frank Merrill gives an impressive performance that showcases his physical abilities and his ability to capture the essence of the character. He was a trained gymnast, and that helped him pull off some of the most daring stunts in the serial, including several instances where he had to swing from vines, leap across huge gaps, and run across elevated platforms. Merrill's portrayal of Tarzan adds a layer of authenticity to the serial, making it more thrilling and exciting for the audience.
Natalie Kingston, who plays Jane, also delivers an impressive performance. Her character is a strong-willed, independent woman who is not easily intimidated by the dangers they face on their journey. Despite some of the sexist overtones in the dialogue, Kingston manages to inject a sense of agency into Jane, and she stands out as one of the most memorable characters in the serial.
The villains, while not exactly nuanced, are entertaining to watch. The main antagonist, Achmed Abdullah (Al Ferguson), is a stereotypical Arab bad guy, complete with a turban and a sinister, scheming demeanor. Abdullah is one of the most formidable enemies that Tarzan and Jane face in their journey, and his henchmen, including the savage warrior Zagora (Kithno), provide a steady stream of obstacles for our heroes to overcome.
The production value of the Tarzan the Tiger serial is impressive considering its age. The sets are detailed and realistic, and the use of location shooting in California's Topanga Canyon adds to the authenticity of the jungle setting. The visual effects, including the scenes featuring the tiger, are also impressive, especially given the limitations of the technology available at the time.
One of the most exciting aspects of Tarzan the Tiger is the use of action sequences that involved live stunts, and not just special effects. The opening scene, which shows Tarzan and Jane running across the tree branches chased by some of the bandits, is a standout moment that captures the spirit of the adventure genre. Other scenes that feature Merrill's impressive gymnastics skills, including the one where he swings from a vine to a tree branch and back, are also thrilling to watch.
However, it's worth noting that some elements of the serial do not hold up well today. There are instances where the characterization of non-white characters feels offensive and stereotypical. And while the entertainment value of the action sequences makes up for the weak plot, some viewers might find the storytelling unengaging in parts.
Overall, Tarzan the Tiger is a fun, exciting serial that offers a glimpse into the adventure genre and the cultural context of its time. The performances by Frank Merrill and Natalie Kingston are highlights, and the use of real stunts and practical effects makes it a worthwhile watch, even for those who might not be interested in the Tarzan character.