Tarzan's Greatest Adventure

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Tarzan's Greatest Adventure
Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (movie poster).jpg
Directed by John Guillermin
Produced by Sy Weintraub
Harvey Hayutin
Written by Les Crutchfield
Based on Characters created
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Starring Gordon Scott
Anthony Quayle
Sara Shane
Sean Connery
Al Mulock
Scilla Gabel
Niall MacGinnis
Music by Douglas Gamley
Cinematography Ted Scaife
Solar Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • 1959 (1959)
Running time
Language English
Box office $1 million (est. US/Canada rentals)[1]

Tarzan's Greatest Adventure is a 1959 adventure film directed by John Guillermin, produced by Sy Weintraub and Harvey Hayutin, and written by Les Crutchfield, based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. With a strong supporting cast that included Anthony Quayle and Sean Connery, and a focus on action and suspense, the movie won critical praise as a Tarzan film that appealed to adults as well as children.

The film features a literate Tarzan portrayed by Gordon Scott. The character of Jane, Tarzan's wife, does not appear and is not mentioned. At one point, Tarzan briefly romances a female character, suggesting that he is a loner, not a family man. Cheeta, Tarzan's chimp companion in many movies, appears only a few times near the start of the film, and the kind of comic relief that Cheeta represents is generally absent from the movie.[2]


In the opening scenes, an African native village is robbed during the night, supposedly by natives, who kill two men with guns. Before a man dies, he mentions the name "Slade" over the shortwave radio. Black colouring is found on his hand so they know it is white people who did it, disguised as Africans. Tarzan arrives the next morning and learns about the raid from Sanchez, a local inspector. Tarzan hears about the name Slade and remembers him as a man who Tarzan let three of his men die during a hunt for a rogue elephant and has a grudge against him. A woman (Angie) turns up, Sanchez' latest woman, flying one of his planes. Later she buzzes Tarzan in his canoe, and crashes the plane so now Tarzan is stuck with her as he goes after Slade. Slade has six henchmen and a girlfriend with him. He knows where a diamond mine is and has got his supplies for his trip by stealing them from the village. Tensions run high amongst his men; Kruger is a near-sighted ex-Nazi and a diamond expert. O'Bannion is an Irish rebel, a drunk and a trouble maker. Dino is a thug who decides to kill O'Bannion but falls foul of a wild animal and quicksand.

Tarzan and Angie lose their canoe but take an overland short cut where he fells some trees into the water to stop Slade's boat. Tarzan attacks them with arrows but they respond with (stolen) dynamite and Tarzan is injured. He later kills O'Bannion but collapses, needing Angie's help. Angie is captured trying to get penicillin for Tarzan and the group continue in their boat. Tarzan recovers and follows them to the diamond mine. Toni (Slade's girlfriend) dies after falling into a trap meant for Tarzan. In the cave, Kruger realizes that Slade is more interested in danger than diamonds and tries to kill him but is in turn killed when he is thrown down a well. Slade then goes out to wait for Tarzan with his prepared weapon: a metal noose for garrotting him. There is a final fight between the two on a cliff top which ends when Tarzan gets the upper hand and throws Slade off the cliff to his death. In the final shot, Tarzan watches from a distance as Angie takes Slade's motorboat away to return to civilization.


Production notes[edit]

This film portrayed a grittier, more realistic Tarzan who could be as savage as his opponents but could also speak eloquently and politely to a woman (Sara Shane) who gets involved in the plot (he also makes love to her in the jungle at one point, without making any reference to Jane). A fair bit of library film of animals was used.

It heralded a whole new direction for Tarzan films under the leadership of producer Sy Weintraub (who soon bought out partner Hayutin), who continued to portray the Ape man as literate in the follow-up Tarzan the Magnificent, and in the films in the 1960s starring Jock Mahoney and Mike Henry as Tarzan. Considered one of the best of the Tarzan films by many.[who?]


  1. ^ "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
  2. ^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:..Tarzan's Greatest Adventure Retrieved March 13, 2016
  • Essoe, Gabe, Tarzan of the Movies, 1968, The Citadel Press
  • Fury, David, Kings of the jungle : an illustrated reference to "Tarzan" on screen and television, 1994, McFarland & Co.

External links[edit]