Tarzan's New York Adventure

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Tarzan's New York Adventure
Tarzan's New York Adventure movie poster.jpg
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Produced by Frederick Stephani
Written by William R. Lipman
Myles Connolly
Based on Characters created
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Maureen O'Sullivan
Johnny Sheffield
Music by David Snell
Cinematography Sidney Wagner
Edited by Gene Ruggiero
Distributed by Loew's Inc.
Release date
  • May 1942 (1942-05)
Running time
71 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $707,000[1]
Box office $2,729,000[1]

Tarzan's New York Adventure (also known as Tarzan Against the World) is a 1942 film, the sixth Tarzan film to feature actors Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. This film was the sixth and final film in MGM's Tarzan series and was the studio's last Tarzan film until their 1958 release, Tarzan's Fight for Life, Tarzan's New York Adventure was directed by Richard Thorpe, and although it included New York scenes, as well as the customary jungle sequences, it was another Tarzan production primarily shot on MGM backlots.[2]


Circus workers land an aircraft in the jungles of Africa in search of lions for their show. While trapping lions, the three men meet up with Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) and their adopted son Boy (Johnny Sheffield). Watching Boy's tricks with the elephants, the head of the circus, Buck Rand (Charles Bickford), realizes that Boy would be a great act for the circus. The group is attacked by natives, and it appears that Tarzan and Jane have perished in a jungle fire. The men take Boy on an aircraft back to the United States. Tarzan's loyal chimp Cheeta wakes Tarzan and Jane before they are burned by the fire. Then Cheeta tells Tarzan that Boy has left with the men on the plane.

Tarzan, Jane and the chimp track across the jungle and flying across the Atlantic, eventually end up in New York City where Tarzan is befuddled by the lifestyle and gadgetry of "civilization". Tarzan displays his quaint, "noble savage" ways by complaining about the necessity of wearing clothing, commenting that an opera singer that he hears on a "noisy box" is "Woman sick! Scream for witch doctor!", and expressing his childlike wonderment at taxi cabs. It is noteworthy that Tarzan comments that various African-Americans he sees making a living throughout New York City are from this or that tribe back in their jungle home.

Tarzan and Jane attempt to get Boy back first by legal means. This leads to a moving sequence where the judge asks Tarzan what the fishing is like back in Africa and what he considers to be important things that he needs to teach his adopted son. Unfortunately, the circus retains an unscrupulous lawyer (Charles Lane), who tricks Jane into admitting that Boy was not born in the jungle and is not her actual child, provoking Tarzan into attacking him in the courtroom. Tarzan makes a daring escape out the courtroom windows and after a rooftop chase by the police ends up doing a high dive off the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River.

Tarzan somehow finds the circus where Boy is being held and enlists the aid of circus elephants who are chained to stakes. He calls to them with his "jungle speak" and they take their revenge on their tormentors by tearing free from the chains and destroying the circus. In the ensuing bedlam, Tarzan is able to rescue Boy, and before the family returns to Africa, the judge grants Tarzan and Jane full custody of Boy.



Production with the working title of Tarzan Against the World, began on December 17, 1941, continuing to January 28, 1942, mainly on the MGM backlot/ranch. Additional scenes were shot in early February 1942.[3]

Although popular mythology claims that Johnny Weissmuller did his own stunt in Tarzan's New York Adventure and, as an escaping Tarzan, actually jumped 250 feet from the Brooklyn Bridge. According to the ERBzine research on Edgar Rice Burroughs, the shot was filmed by cameraman Jack Smith on top of the MGM scenic tower on lot 3 and used a dummy plunging into a tank.[4]

Tarzan's New York Adventure was the last in the series for MGM, and Maureen O'Sullivan's last picture until 1948. She wanted to devote more time to her seven children. Of interest is the uncredited appearance as a circus roustabout by Elmo Lincoln who in 1918 was the first actor to star as Tarzan.[5]

Two aircraft are prominently featured in Tarzan's New York Adventure: "G-AECT", a mock-up of a Lockheed 12A with a single tail, that is used to fly in the Africa scenes, and a Boeing 314 Clipper (daytime) and a Martin M-130 (nighttime) that the characters of Tarzan and Jane use to cross the Atlantic Ocean.[6]


Box Office[edit]

Tarzan's New York Adventure earned $1,404,000 in the US and Canada and $1,315,000 elsewhere during its initial theatrical run, making MGM a profit of $985,000.[1][7]

Critical reception[edit]

Film critic Theodore Strauss at The New York Times said the change of outfit did nothing to change the obvious. "With an African yodel and a tailor-made suit, our old jungle friend is back in Tarzan's New York Adventure, currently chilling the veins of reviewers and 12-year-olds at the Capitol. Although we're not quite certain that the small-fry approved of Tarzan's temporary conversion to decidedly dapper duds of the sort more commonly seen at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, he probably will be forgiven. In Tarzan's case, clothes do not make the man."[8]

In a recent appraisal of Tarzan's New York Adventure, Leonard Maltin noted some redeeming factors; "... an amusing entry. Tarzan's first encounter with indoor plumbing is truly memorable."[9] Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 100%, based on 5 reviews, with a rating average of 7/10.[10]



  1. ^ a b c "The Eddie Mannix Ledger". Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study (Los Angeles).
  2. ^ "Notes: Tarzan's New York Adventure." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: January 7, 2015.
  3. ^ "Original print information: Tarzan's New York Adventure." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: January 7, 2015.
  4. ^ Hillman, Bill. "Tarzan's New York Adventure." Erbzine.com Homepage, Issue 0622. Retrieved: January 7, 2015.
  5. ^ LeVoit, Violet. "Articles: Tarzan's New York Adventure." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: January 7, 2015.
  6. ^ "G-AECT." Airport-data.com. Retrieved: January 7, 2015.
  7. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  8. ^ Strauss, Theodore (T.S.) "Movie Review: Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942); 'Tarzan's New York Adventure' proves clothes do not make the man, at the Capitol." The New York Times, August 7, 1942.
  9. ^ Maltin 2009, p. 1369.
  10. ^ "Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 


  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. New York: New American Library, 2009 (originally published as TV Movies, then Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide), First edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.

External links[edit]