Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959)
During the post Johnny Weissmuller years for the famed jungle man created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, there were still plenty of on screen adventures. Perhaps none better during the Gordon Scott era then this the fifth of his six contributions to the long running series that Scott starred in between 1955 and 1960.
The reason for this is simple. Scott is facing off against a formidable group of baddies led by a vicious Anthony Quayle.
Quayle and his cohorts have been raiding villages along the river Tarzan patrols. Taking supplies and weapons as they work their way up river to a hidden diamond mine that only Quayle knows the location of. Quayle’s group consists of a trio of baddies. Al Murlock, Nial MacGinnis and a young Sean Connery. Then of course there is the femme fatale of the group that belongs solely to Quayle played by siren Scilla Gabel.
When two men are left dead in the latest raid, Scott’s Tarzan leaves Cheetah the chimp and seeks vengeance on Quayle and his gang. It seems Scott and Quayle have had a previous run in. Both would like to see the other sleeping the big sleep.
With the use of some mixed in back screen projection shots, Scott hits the river in his canoe and begins his one man journey to catch the killers. Into his world comes Sara Shane as a downed pilot who is more of a party girl then an outdoors type. Looks like he’ll have to take her along on his vengeful ride.
“You sound like he’s something to worry about.” says Mr. Connery to Quayle.
The cat and mouse games begin as Connery and Quayle begin to lay back along the river banks and take out Scott. It’s the classic guns versus bow and arrow battle.
This film was shot in color and directed by the well known John Guillermin. John also was credited as the screenwriter. It should come as no wonder that Guillermin would one day direct the female version of the Tarzan legend. The rather campy Sheena in 1984.
While the action is solid throughout this feature clocking in at just under the ninety minute mark, it’s our quick tempered cutthroats that make it an enjoyable trip up river.
Sporting a nasty facial scar, Quayle is dominating as the leader of the group and is far more interested in the thrill he gets from killing then he is in the riches found in the diamond mine. Slimy bespectacled MacGinnis seems to be playing a displaced Nazi whose greed knows know bounds and isn’t above the classic double cross.
Our future James Bond is along for the ride and seems to be enjoying the adventure without taking his jungle opponent seriously. As for Murlock, he’s quick tempered and as you might expect let’s his own temper get the best of him.
This turned out to be Scott’s second last effort as the King of the Jungle. He would make one more opposite Jock Mahoney titled Tarzan the Magnificent. Ironically Mahoney would move from being the villain in that film to taking over the loin cloth lead in the next two films of the series.
Our screen siren Miss Gabel would also appear with another strong man on screen in 1959. She was cast in The White Warrior opposite Steve Reeves. If Al Murlock looks familiar then like me you are a fan of Once Upon a Time in the West. The Canadian actor along with Jack Elam and Woody Strode are awaiting the arrival of Harmonica in the films classic (dare I say iconic) opening.
Easily one of the best films of the entire series if you care to look beyond the Weissmuller films. And yes, Weissmuller’s famous call can still be heard when dubbed in for Scott’s supposed call while swinging through the trees.
These Tarzan films featuring Scott can be found through the Warner Archive Collection if you feel the need to find a place on your shelf for them like yours’ truly.