» » Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950)

Short summary

The Lionians are a tribe dying of a mysterious disease. Their Chief decides to kidnap Jane and Lola, a half-breed nurse, in order to help repopulate his civilization. Tarzan must rescue them while fending off blowgun attacks from people called the Waddies who are disguised as bushes.

Hurd Hatfield, who plays the prince of the Lionian tribe, had his two best roles at the very beginning of his career, debuting opposite Katharine Hepburn in Dragonseed, followed by his "big break," playing the title role in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). The fact that, five years later, he didn't even have billing on the poster for an RKO Tarzan film is indicative of how quickly his fortunes diminished. Hatfield continued working into the early 1990s, mostly in B movies and on television, but was never again to achieve the promise of those first two roles.

At the time this film was made, third-billed Robert Alta was best known for having played the lead role of George Gershwin in the biopic Rhapsody in Blue. Today, his main claim to fame is having fathered M*A*S*H star Alan Alda.

French born Denise Darcel, seen here as the feisty Lola, later enjoyed a brief vogue as an "exotic" leading lady in the mid-50s, appearing in such flms as Flame of Calcutta, Westward the Women and Vera Cruz.

Two years after making this film, Vanessa Brown (who plays Jane here) originated the role of "The Girl" in the initial stage production of The Seven Year Itch (the role played by Marilyn Monroe in the classic movie version).

Normally quite hairy-chested, Barker was forced to submit to a full body wax in order to play the buffed version of Tarzan demanded by the producers. It was not until he abandoned the Tarzan role and went to Europe to film that his fans were finally allowed to see him as nature intended, with his chest hair intact.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Pedar
    Watching this Tarzan movie can be a multi-cultural experience. Tarzan and Jane are of English extraction living in Africa, which as usual looks more like a South American rain forest. One of the native tribes here is black, but others look more like South Pacific islanders, or just bronzed Caucasians. There's an Irish doctor who is assisted by a feisty Latin nurse. The tribe that's capturing slaves has a culture that looks vaguely Egyptian, but they're building a temple that is more Mayan with the help of Indian elephants, which respond to Tarzan's famous yell just like the African ones. Finally, the captured slave girls resemble Veronica Lake or Linda Darnell and dress like Dorothy Lamour.

    Of course, everyone knows what they're getting with a Tarzan movie, which are not examples of cultural, geographical or political correctness. Lex Barker in the title role is almost interchangeable with Johnny Weissmuller. Vanessa Brown, in her only appearance as Jane, is lovely but might seem a bit too young and dainty for some tastes, though she does handle herself pretty well in a fight with Lola the nurse. If you're ever overcome with a wave of nostalgia you may want to watch this.
  • comment
    • Author: anneli
    Many people regard Lex Barker as Tarzan lite. I always thought he did a fine job. "Tarzan and the slave girl" presents two things that I really like in a Tarzan movie. 1. A lost civilization with a mysterious (although card-bord) temple. 2. Women with a lot of OOMPH! The actress that plays Lola is a real find. She has the shoulders of a line-backer, a hair-trigger temper and a French accent so thick you could spread it like jam. I like her. All in all, a fun little picture that delivers genuine All-American cheesy thrills.
  • comment
    • Author: Sermak Light
    I've seen the begining of this film and I've seen the ending of this film but not both at the same time, due to its presentation at unusual time schedules on tv. Nonetheless, I've seen enough to know that it's a pretty fair "Tarzan" low-budget action film.

    Lex Barker plays Tarzan with Johnny Weismuller's pidgin English, but with a California accent. Vanessa Brown plays Jane with a lot of spirit, just the way Jane should be played. Let's face it, if a woman is going to be running around the jungle with an ape man and chasing slave hunters, she better have her wits about her, and Brown's Jane certainly does.

    The story opens with Barker and Brown riding their elephants through a Hollywood jungle when they hear screams. Ever-alert to danger, Tarzan swings down off of the elephant and runs to a local village, thinking that the screams came from there, with Jane and the monkey sidekick Cheetah close behind. When they get to the village (inhabited by people who look more Middle Eastern than Central African), they find the witch doctor performing a ceremony, but the chief says that they did not scream, so Tarzan darts back to the river to check on the local village girls who were there gathering water. When they get there, they find a bowl one of the girls was using and Tarzan gets hot on the trail. Tarzan catches up to a group of three slavers, who look vaguely Egyptian. He subdues one, but the other two escape after conking Tarzan on the head.

    The villagers take the captured slaver back to the village to make him talk, but he's infected with a disease and can't stand up, grabbing his knees and falling to the ground. Soon, other villagers are grabbing their knees and falling to the ground, so Jane tells Tarzan to go to a mission to get a doctor. Tarzan goes and brings back the doctor and his voluptuous assistant, who looks very European and speaks with a French accent but wears a sarong.

    At some point in the story, Jane and the voluptuous assistant Lola are captured by the slavers and taken to a lost city, along with the other village girls. Presented to the ruler of the city, the girls are informed that they are to be either sold as slave girls or will join the harem. Naturally, Jane and Lola resist and must be punished, eventually being sealed inside a pyramid to die. Tarzan learns where they are and he tries to save them. I won't go into too much detail here because I don't want to ruin the drama, but essentially Jane comes through at Tarzan's darkest hour and together they free the slave girls and escape from the city.

    Now, even though the title has "slave girl" in it, don't think for a second that there's going to be nudity or anything prurient like that. However, we do get to see Vanessa Brown in a two-piece leather outfit (rare for a Jane character, it seems) that reminds me of a cheerleader costume - full cut shoulder straps, V-shaped neckline, longer top gathered in the middle with a mid-thigh cut skirt. This has the effect of making Brown look very athletic (which she is) and really shows off her perky figure well. And, as I mentioned earlier, Lola comes in a sarong and has the full figure to pull it off (nowadays, she'd never make it as a B-movie actress but back in the 50s I'm sure she was a ticket). The other actresses look quite lovely in their sarongs and, later, in their harem costumes, too. Some of them look like they could've modeled for Vargas paintings or nose art on WW2 bombers.

    This film certainly isn't a high point of modern art, but fans of "Tarzan" and cheap weekend movies will appreciate it for what it is: a piece of 1950s nostalgia and good, clean fun.
  • comment
    • Author: Zyangup
    Copyright 8 March 1950 by Sol Lesser Productions, Inc. Released through RKO Radio Pictures. New York opening at the Criterion: 23 June 1950. U.S. release: 18 March 1950. U.K. release: 18 September 1950. Australian release: 25 May 1950. 6,754 feet. 75 minutes.

    Alternative title: TARZAN AND THE JUNGLE QUEEN.

    SYNOPSIS: Tarzan frees a group of kidnapped girls and brings medical aid to villagers suffering from a strange disease.

    NOTES: Number 26 of the 46-picture "Tarzan" series. Lex Barker's second of five outings as Tarzan. Vanessa Brown's only appearance as Jane.

    COMMENT: This entry has good elements and bad. For instance, it's great to see Hurd Hatfield, even though his entrance is delayed and his part pans out as not all that large. What's worse, it's sad to hear him struggling with the film's ridiculous dialogue.

    Oddly enough, it's way-down-in-the-cast Denise Darcel who seems to be most at home, — despite (or maybe because of) a sarong that seems about as suitable for jungle wear as a Panama hat in Alaska.

    Vanessa Brown emerges as a poor man's Jane in every respect. Her strident voice is especially unsuitable for fans used to the soft diction of Maureen O'Sullivan. Arthur Shields over-acts atrociously; the villain is not much chop; and Robert Warwick cuts an unintentionally risible figure as the high priest.

    Perhaps we shouldn't come down too hard on the actors. After all, the writers make no attempt to induce credibility in their juvenile plot which remains from go to whoa on a strictly comic-book level. Fortunately, it does introduce a fair amount of fast-moving action, though the climax itself is not as exciting as the earlier scenes with the sinister, foliage-disguised Wadi.

    Though obviously cramped by the demands of Lesser's tight budget, Harry Horner's sets appear mildly attractive. True, the compositions are more stylish than Lesser usual, obviously reflecting the skill of ace cameraman Russell Harlan. Lee Sholem's direction reaches its zenith in the action spots, thanks to Tarzan's jumping over the camera and at least one neat, if short, tracking shot through the undergrowth.

    A few stock shots from earlier Tarzan entries pop up occasionally, but not as many as you might expect.
  • comment
    • Author: Granijurus
    Lex Barker dons the Tarzan trunks for the second time in what is a fun Tarzan adventure, even if it's just a bit too crammed with intentions for its own good. Vanessa Brown slips into Jane's short jungle skirt and Denise Darcel is also on hand to provide some extra sex pheromones; and to indulge in a girl on girl scrap with Jane! Cool!

    Plot is basically Tarzan out to rescue a bunch of femme natives from the clutches of some mad culty tribesmen led by Hurd Hatfield. There's a jungle disease issue to take care of as well, Cheetah's (owning the movie unsurprisingly) alcohol problem, and of course there's some baddies to be dispensed with which allows Barker to use his athleticism to great effect.

    Tarzan gets to be vocal, well more a case of muffled utterances really, and Lee Sholem directs it with economical assuredness. Come the end, baddies vanquished, Jane and Cheetah are smiling, and this Greystoke bloke is a hero again. Hooray! Good solid wholesome Tarzan froth. 6/10
  • comment
    • Author: nailer
    This may not be a great film by anyone's standards. But apart from Tarzan speaking in short words, this film I suggest, after more than fifty years of reading and considering Tarzan properties, is the closest any filmmaker has come to capturing the essence of Tarzan as Edgar Rice Burroughs created him. Consider this unpretentious little film's many assets. It features a very attractive and ethical young Tarzan and Jane in the persons of Lex Barker and Vanessa Brown. The feel of the film is jungle, outdoors, hot, humid, on the fringes of a rather rough civilization at best, a zone on the edge of danger. There are very fine supporting performances by a cast that includes Arthur Shields, Robert Alda, Denise Darcel, Anthony Caruso, Robert Warwick and Hurd Hatfield, Mary Ellen Kaye, Peter Mamakos and others. The storyline involves Tarzan and the others with a somewhat alien civilization whose desperate servants, ethically-challenged leader and villains put the whole surrounding group of tribes as well as Tarzan and the others at risk by their illegal actions. The script is well-above average; the characters are quite well-developed and often multi-dimensional; and the climactic escape from living death in a temple engineered by Tarzan I found to be at once exciting, important and decently filmed. The plot line in "Tarzan and the Slave Girl" is at first sight unusually rich for an adventure story. The Lionians and their king have grown desperate. They are not producing children. Under the bad advice of Sengo, played by Caruso, they have begun capturing young women from surrounding peoples in order to solve their dilemma, instead of seeking help through other means. Tarzan becomes involved with the problem when he tries to single-handedly stop a raiding party from carrying off yet another victim. Finally, it becomes necessary to try to reach the Lionians' capital city via an expedition through a country populated by people who disguise themselves as trees and fire blow-darts as weapons. The disease attacking the Lionians is discovered by a doctor, Arthur Shields; fending off amorous advances from his nurse, a sexy half-caste played by Darcel, Tarzan and his trusty, brave but drink-prone helper Alda,and Shields reach the city of the Lionians and find the imprisoned girls there--and also Jane and the nurse, who have also been captured during their roundabout journey to the city. They fail to move the king, Hatfield; and Caruso convinces him to seal Tarzan and Jane in their temple as dangerous enemies to his rule. Tarzan climbs to the top of the structure and overturns the idol sealing the aperture there, thus escaping the trap. Meanwhile, the High Priest of the civilization, Warwick, is being fed to the lions for daring to speak out against the King's unethical scheme. Trazan's prowess in battle with help from his friends wins the day, and Caruso falls into the lions' den, Warwick being freed. Shields finds a cure for the malady and the King embraces amicable relations with all once more. The enslaved girls are returned to their homes; and Alda convinces Darcel to take care of him alone and forget about seducing Tarzan. Having said so many good things about the film, it is necessary to report that apart from some good action scenes, especially those involving boats emerging from or reentering a swamp with islands in it, a very Burroughsian touch, and the city's palace interiors, the production by Sol Lesser's production company in B/W suffers from lack of richness. The tribes involved in the danger mostly resemble Mexican villagers with strange wigs inflicted upon them; and director Lee Sholem, who does well with his very fine cast of actors, has no means of overcoming the budgetary handicaps under which he labors. Lesser was able to produce several much-richer-looking later Tarzan efforts, to his great credit; but this transitional film introduced a post-Johnny- Weismuller Tarzan in Lex Barker, solved some of the problems that needed solving in order to improve the MGM-family-oriented domestic barriers that kept Tarzan from seeking out important adventures; and incidentally the film provided an attractive and very-Burroughsian realization of the original adventure vision the author had dreamed up, as an anti-Communist argument for genetic human worth as against conditioned obedience, four decades earlier. Nearly a very-good film.
  • comment
    • Author: Bladebringer
    I was 10 when i saw this movie. It was the first Tarzan movie I had ever seen.I fell in love with Vanessa Brown. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I would go home and pretend I was Tarzan, defending her from lions and crocodiles. Unfortunately, I seem be the only one who remembers her so fondly. I wish I knew where I could get a copy of this movie or even a photograph of her in her Jane outfit.This actress indeed brings back fond memories of my childhood.
  • comment
    • Author: JoJogar
    Out of all the Lex Barker Tarzan movies, I love this one the best because of Denise Darcel. She plays Lola, a feisty, buxom beauty who steals every scene she's in! Her sassy ways and sharp tongue gets her in a lot of trouble, but she doesn't care. She sets her sights on any handsome man she sees and isn't reluctant to let them know she's interested. Darcel's character is funny, too. She gets into a fight with Jane and gets tossed around the room! Too funny! It was nice to see a Jane who could handle herself, but there was no chemistry between this Jane and hunky Tarzan. The jungle trip to the secret city is also very good because it's creepy and full of suspense. In my opinion, it's one of the best!
  • comment
    • Author: Shadowredeemer
    In Tarzan And The Slave Girl, Tarzan discovers yet another ancient civilization lost in the jungle, this one looks like some ancient Egyptians got lost in the jungle and took to worshiping lions. In one of the RKO Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan he was dealing with a group that worshiped leopards. The plots were getting sillier and sillier.

    In this one however a mysterious disease is killing off these Egyptian types and the answer for these folks who have no modern medicine is bring in women to replenish the population. But among the women they bring are Vanessa Brown playing Jane in this film and Denise Darcel who is nurse to jungle doctor Arthur Shields.

    Anthony Caruso here is the villain who wants to keep his crowd without knowledge of the outside world as he is planning a palace coup against Prince Hurd Hatfield. He's also got a score to settle with Tarzan who gave him a nasty scar while he was on his Pontipee mission.

    The Lex Barker films and the Weissmuller films for RKO were the worst of the Tarzan series. King Solomon's Mines and The African Queen would be coming out soon and these adventures done on a studio back lot weren't going to cut it with the movie-going public.

    Two things Tarzan And The Slave Girl does have going for it. The first is a dandy chick fight between Vanessa and Denise. The fight was a draw, but I'm surprised the two of them got in a face to face profile shot. Denise definitely won the rack contest, in fact I doubt those lost Egyptians saw anything built like her.

    The second was a neat running jungle fight between Tarzan and the group bringing medicine and looking for the captured women and a tribe that acted as a buffer between the Egyptians and the outside world. This tribe used poison blow gun darts and quite effectively. Very nicely staged.

    Still this was an Africa that never existed outside Hollywood sound stages.
  • comment
    • Author: Yozshugore
    Watching these movies as an adult, they seem so ridiculous: slave girls, tribes...pretty much run by white people with customs that are cliche and match a lot of the native american cliches of the day (chieftains speaking some silly babble, medicine men, etc.). The white slave girls with some tanning makeup all having 1950s hairdos and makeup...pure fantasy land. A few years later there would be some color films actually made in Africa with real natives and more authentic customs.
  • comment
    • Author: Lynnak
    Lord of the jungle Lex Barker (as Tarzan) and leggy mate Vanessa Brown (as Jane) are riding the elephant when they happen upon a damsel in distress. As it turns out, she's been kidnapped by a tribe of "Lionians" who like to make slaves of attractive women. When a mysterious disease threatens everyone in the area, Mr. Barker brings doctor Arthur Shields (as E.E. Campbell) into the picture. Tagging along are his full-figured blonde nurse Denise Darcel (as Lola) and her boozy boyfriend Robert Alda (as Neil). The former does everything she can to get into Barker's loincloth, and the latter provides Cheeta with another drunk scene...

    Eventually, Ms. Brown and Ms. Darcel are abducted into the slave harem, which is run by handsome Hurd Hatfield, the Prince of the Lionians. Again, Darcel indicates her readiness for a good-looking male. Former silent screen star Robert Warwick is the tribe's high priest. But the lead villain is Anthony "Tony" Caruso (as Sengo), who keeps stroking his scar and dreaming of Brown. Fortunately for romantics, Barker and Brown remain true to each other. This was Brown's only appearance as "Jane" in the series, with rotating mates becoming the norm. She, Darcel, and the scantily-clad harem girls provide a lot fodder for sexual fantasy.

    ***** Tarzan and the Slave Girl (6/21/50) Lee Sholem ~ Lex Barker, Vanessa Brown, Denise Darcel, Anthony Caruso
  • comment
    • Author: Braned
    I miss the first Tarzan hero, Johnny Weissmuller and the story line was too phoney. The portrayal of the natives were not african. What happened to the Tarzan holler? A thumbs down to this movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Otrytrerl
    Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950)

    ** (out of 4)

    Incredibly flat entry was Lex Barker's second stint as Tarzan. This time out he must do battle with some weird lion-worshipers who are kidnapping women from local tribes because they are dying of a mysterious disease. Instead of getting proper medication, the tribe instead plans to repopulate their village with new women including Jane (Vanessa Brown). This second entry in the "new" RKO series is a pretty boring and uninteresting affair because the silly story could have worked as camp but sadly the material is just so poorly directed that you can't even laugh at it. I think the film gets off to a rather good start but this all goes down the tubes as soon as you see one of the men dying of some sort of fit. I'm not sure if the director could only film this scene once and they were stuck with whatever they got but the acting by this person is just so bad and his flopping around on the group so laughable that you can't help but wonder why no one ordered a second take. Things don't get much better from this point on as we see Tarzan and his friends (including Cheetah) walking down one trail after another trying to locate this mysterious tribe. This is part of the problem because this little adventure contains no excitement, no energy and certainly doesn't make for a very good time. The entire story involving the lion-worshipers is rather silly but I don't fault the film for this. After all, most of the plot lines in this series were rather silly but what really kills the picture is that the director simply doesn't add any life to what's going on. Baxter is just so-so in his role of Tarzan, which really isn't good considering he's the star. In an introduction I saw to the film it was said that Brown had an I.Q. of 165 but you certainly couldn't tell that by her performance. She comes off incredibly dumb like as Jane and it's easy to see why she wasn't brought back for a second picture. Hurd Hatfield is pretty forgettable as the main worshiper but Denise Darcel does bring some life and fight to the picture as the doctor's assistant who falls for Tarzan. TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL runs a sluggish 74-minutes and sadly there's very little to be found here.
  • comment
    • Author: Era
    This Tarzan installment seemed particularly goofy, with Tarzan, Lex Barker in his second outing as the Lord of the Jungle, finding himself at odds with a pointy hat wearing cult who capture Tarzan's slave girl friends. The silly looking costumes, the strange temples, the scantily clad women made this installment feel more like a Flash Gordon serial than it did a Tarzan jungle adventure film. It's not bad and I'm sure it would still appeal to kids and adults who enjoy the other Tarzan films, but the story and action here seemed incongruous and far afield from prior films or the Edgar Rice Burroughs source material. At least this one did not prominently feature racist stereotypes of African native people.
  • comment
    • Author: Minha
    Actually, the second Lex Barker outing as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord of the Apes should have been called "Tarzan and the Slave Girls" rather than "Tarzan and the Slave Girl." Of course, the action unfolds in darkest Africa and it has a largely incidental quality. Tarzan and Jane are riding an elephant through the jungle with Cheetah following close behind them on a smaller elephant. They enter the land of the Nagasi , natives that Tarzan is friendly with just as some intruders abduct one of the village girls out picking fruit. The villains are the Lionians and they are led by Sengo (Anthony Caruso) and capturing one village maiden is not enough for them so they try to snatch Jane as a prize. Predictably, Tarzan thwarts them. Along the way our heroes discover that the Lionians are afflicted with some deadly disease. Tarzan has to fetch a doctor to save the day. Barker makes a hard charging Tarzan and "Superman and the Mole People" director Lee Sholem likes to show Barker scrambling through the foliage like a linebacker on the prowl. Indeed, Sholem prefers to have Barker run toward the camera and leap over it and uses this set-up on several occasions. Fans of the NBC-TV show "The A-Team" may remember how all kinds of vehicles used to drive over the camera. Well, Sholem constantly has Tarzan jumping over the camera running toward it or leaping over it from a reverse angle. Clocking in at 79 minutes, "Tarzan and the Slave-Girl" follows the Ape man as he plunges into the jungle and follows the Lionians to their stomping grounds. Along the way, Tarzan and company encounter some creepy natives that used poisonous blow darts and disguise themselves like the bush around them. Anthony Caruso is the chief villain and all his efforts are aimed at usurping the High Priest so he can take over. This "Tarzan" outing has future sex-pot Denise Darcel as a native girl who wants to make out with Tarzan. At one point, Darcel tangles with Tarzan's mate Jane (Vanessa Brown in a two-piece outfit) over Tarzan. The feverish action, Barker's straightforward but muscular performance and a solid supporting cast bolsters this predictable fare. Yes, Tarzan belts out his signature yell at the end when he gets trapped in a tomb and he needs an elephant to knock the walls down. Cheetah has a couple of good scenes. One of them has the chimp guzzling liquor while in the second one he is knocking out Lionian guards during the finale.
  • comment
    • Author: Balladolbine
    This film offers some special treats: poison darts, a mysterious tribe of camouflaged warriors known as the Whati, Denise Darcel as Lola the Nurse, a man-eating lion pit, Vanessa Brown and a slave girl dog pile on one of the fat guards. The darts are particularly pungent and drop victims in their tracks. The Whati are foreboding and could have been used more throughout the film. The lion pit shows a continuity problem where one of Tarzan's adversaries is thrown in to be devoured only to reappear thirty seconds later to get thrown in a second time with same result. Vanessa Brown is fun to watch and feels "girl next door". She leaves the tree house in pursuit of rogue warriors with her bow and arrow - would have been great for her to show archery skills and get one of the bad guys - if this film were made today would surely have given Jane an opportunity to shine this way with an arrow to one or two of the kidnappers thorax or esophagus. Denise Darcel exudes sexuality and you can see her longing to have her way with Tarzan. She surely must have been the inspiration for Charro's hoochie coochie bumps and grinds made famous 15 years later on 60's TV variety shows. The dog pile scene occurs when Tarzan breaks into the palace and the slave girls on cue immobilize one of the lucky(er...)unlucky accomplices and block the door momentarily long enough for Tarzan to get away. Lex Barker looks particularly fit doing most of his fight and climbing scenes(Jock Mahoney doing tough stunts?). Anthony Caruso is the heavy and does his usual great work. Robert Alda, Alan's dad, is also on hand to lend credibility to the story. Chimp antics in this film are not as good as those in Magic Fountain but are still timeless fun for the kid in all of us.
  • comment
    • Author: Zieryn
    TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL (RKO Radio, 1950) directed by Lee Sholem, returns Lex Barker to the role made famous by Johnny Weissmuller in years past. After a promising start with TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949) that introduced Barker as Lord of the Jungle, along with acquiring Weissmuller's very own blonde Jane (Brenda Joyce) in the process, this second edition finds Barker as well as the series going through another period of adjustment, not so much for the stories or character development, but in selecting the right actress to play Tarzan's mate. Although another blonde in the physical resemblance to Brenda Joyce might have helped fit the bill, a darker red-headed type of Vanessa Brown, in two piece attire, in the physical manner of Maureen O'Sullivan's interpretation back in the MGM days (1932-1942). Regardless, Brown is no threat to either O'Sullivan or Joyce.

    Scripted by Hans Jacoby and Arnold Belgard, the writers keep the story going by inventing new tribes and situations for the jungle man to encounter. As Tarzan (Lex Barker) and Jane (Vanessa Brown), accompanied by Cheta and companion, riding down the path on their elephants, their peaceful venture is interrupted by the scream and abduction of one of the tribal Nagasi girls gathered together by the pond. The kidnappers are revealed to be warriors of the Lionian tribe who've been abducting girls throughout the surrounding area. With a deadly disease found among the Nagasi's that could spread and kill within a few hours, Tarzan comes to the village seeking help from Doctor Campbell (Arthur Shields), who happens to carry a special serum that can both vaccinate and cure those infected. Campbell is assisted by Lola (Denise Darcel), a temperamental half-breed nurse with flirtatious intentions on Neil (Robert Alda), a drunken big game hunter. She soon takes an interest in Tarzan, causing Jane to become jealous. As Tarzan, Campbell and others head for the Nagasi village with the serum, Jane and Lola remain behind in the tree house where they are soon taken by the Lionians as their latest slave girl victims. After Lola is whipped brutally for refusing the Prince's (Hurd Hatfield) advances, she and Jane soon break away from their captures. As Tarzan and the safari have their own troubles avoiding poisoned darts from attacking natives, and misplacing the bottled serum in the process, Jane and Lola, discovered hiding in the dead king's mausoleum, become trapped inside as the evil Sengo (Anthony Caruso) gives orders to have the tomb sealed, leaving the girls to be buried alive.

    As the Tarzan formula proved popular enough to resume a new film annually, the story used for TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL, which plays like a chaptered serial or Saturday matinée, is satisfactory enough to hold interest for 74 minutes. What bogs it down is the bad acting by Vanessa Brown. After being accustomed by Brenda Joyce's interpretation, Brown's performance pales in comparison. It's even hard to interpret during the crowd scenes whether she's one of the slave girls or Jane. There's nothing about her Jane that stands out. The only redeeming quality is the blonde Denise Darcel, whose mannerism and voice comes as an instant reminder to Mexican actress Lupe Velez from the "Mexican Spitfire" film series (1939-1943) for RKO Radio. Sporting a revealing sarong, she gets her chance to shine with her hair pulling fighting match with Jane. Guess who wins? Robert Alda, who, a few short years ago played the lead as George Gershwin in RHAPSODY IN BLUE (Warner Brothers, 1945), is sadly wasted as the booze-drinking hunter. His scenes are as limited as Hurd Hatfield, best known for his title role in THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (MGM, 1945). Anthony Caruso as the prince's wicked adviser comes off well, but not enough to rise the script to a different level. Amusements revolving around Cheta, one where she gets drunk, are thrown in for good measure. Robert Warwick as the High Priest and Tito Renaldo playing the chief's son also round up the supporting cast.

    As for its title, it's hard determining which slave girl is actually the key factor, considering how Tarzan spends much of his time with the safari and Jane rather than with any sole slave girl. Maybe this should have been retitled TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRLS, indicating they are the ones he's set out to rescue, but by using that could indicate Tarzan is now husband with harem girls.

    Formerly presented on Tarzan festivals on Cable TV's American Movie Classics (1998-2000), TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL, available on DVD from Turner Home Entertainment, has turned up on Turner Classic Movies where it premiered as part of its weekly "Tarzan" lineup on July 9, 2011. Lex Barker returns for the next installment in TARZAN'S PERIL (1951), but without Vanessa Brown playing Jane. (**)
  • comment
    • Author: Anyshoun
    If it weren't for this little voice that keeps telling me that I am exaggerating, I would give 8 or 9 stars to Lex Barker's second Tarzan film. The truth is that I did not look at my watch in any occasion, and I watched the movie in delight from start to finish. Again RKO added more punch in production values, with top professionals in all key departments; Barker took off the slippers worn in his first incursion in Burroughs' territory, and all the women in the cast are beautiful -although Denise Darcel makes herself a bit ugly, playing her role of Lola as if she were in a vulgar sex comedy, looking out of place in a Tarzan movie. The story (as lineal and easy as usual) is a bit intriguing: when an Egyptian-looking kingdom in the African jungle (or so it seems...) is being affected by a strange disease, Tarzan guides a doctor with a serum to the capital, without knowing that the crown prince has ordered his henchmen to kidnap women from nearby tribes, among whom there is Tarzan's mate, Jane Parker. What Tarzan does is a lot of fun, leading to a satisfactory resolution. As in the first Barker entry, Cheetah steals every scene he is in.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Lex Barker Lex Barker - Tarzan
    Vanessa Brown Vanessa Brown - Jane
    Robert Alda Robert Alda - Neil
    Hurd Hatfield Hurd Hatfield - Prince of the Lionians
    Arthur Shields Arthur Shields - Dr. E.E. Campbell
    Anthony Caruso Anthony Caruso - Sengo (as Tony Caruso)
    Denise Darcel Denise Darcel - Lola
    Robert Warwick Robert Warwick - High Priest
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