how the cinematic tarzans relate
to the wold newton universe
Dennis E Power
Part IV: The Mahoney and Mike Missions
The film Tarzan Goes to
, starring Jock Mahoney, was the first of a series of films that portrayed the exploits of the fourth Tarzan of our article, John Cloamby, Lord Grandrith. Grandrith was the product of a millennia long project by a group of Immortals to create the incarnation of their Undying God, Tharn or Tarzan, the one which had landed in 24,000 B.C. As a result Grandrith's life paralleled to a great degree the exploits of the original Tarzan but there were also great differences. The secret Immortals, the Nine offered their elixir to several hundred candidates asking only that they would obey all dictates of the Nine and enact any task that the Nine commanded them to do without question. India
Although it is likely that Grandrith had been secretly receiving the elixir from birth, he was offered the elixir as an adult and brought into the inner circle of the Nine as one of their most favored servants. All of this was due to a schism inside the Nine. After several millennia of helping to shape history and embarking on a human breeding program, Grandrith should have been the culmination of their project. However, the Nine had heard of the reports of at least two other ape men who resembled Grandrith and more disturbingly, resembled the Undying God much closer than did Grandrith.
Two of the Nine set up a series of tasks designed to challenge Grandrith and make him prove that he was indeed worthy to be known as the Incarnation of their Undying God. These tasks culminated in Grandrith duel to the death with his half brother, Doc Caliban who was the dissident's choice to become their new leader.
As part of their overall plan to discredit Grandrith, Ananna or had one of their servants contact a journalist and possibly showed him excerpts from Grandrith's secret diaries. They wanted the journalist to publish an expose, that would say that Tarzan was real, alive and this was his identity. This way Grandrith would be immediately be under sentence of death by all of the Nine and their servants for exposing the secrets.
However, their chosen journalist knew that the expose would be met with overwhelming skepticism and disbelief. He opted instead for quick cash and turned the material into story outlines for the new series of Tarzan films. He, of course, did not survive the premier of the first film.
The story line of Tarzan Goes to India involves the saving of a herd of elephants on an elephant preserve owned by a friend of Tarzan's. The elephants and their foraging grounds will be flooded when a dam is put into operation. Opposing Tarzan is one of the dam's engineers whose hobby was also hunting elephants. They had previously clashed in
Africa. Tarzan has to kill a rogue elephant and lead the elephant herd out of a mountain pass before the flood waters come.
In reality, the Maharajah was a servant of the Nine, whose special task it was to preserve this particular herd of elephants for they were the only elephants that still carried Mammoth genes. The Nine used them for special ceremonies dating back to the stone age. Yet, the schism among the Nine had already begun. The Dissidents wished the elephant herd destroyed as one step to forever cut their ties with the past. Tarzan and XauXaz won this particular battle and the herd was saved.
The next filmed adaptation of Lord Grandrith's exploits was Tarzan's Three Challenges. The film's story line has Tarzan requested to go the
, to aid a small boy, who is a spiritual leader akin to Thailand 's Dali Lama. The boy's father had been the spiritual leader but had recently died naming his son as his successor. The boy is being opposed in his succession by his uncle, who insists on three physical challenges to determine fitness for the post. Tarzan acts as the boys champion and eventually secures his position. Tibet
Again we can see the inner turmoil of the Nine. The hereditary spiritual leaders, descendants of the Siamese member of the Nine, were going to be replaced by the Dissidents' candidate, who would use his influence to modernize the country side and bring greater wealth and power to the Nine. Once again, XauXaz was opposed to upsetting the status quo and sent Tarzan into to prevent the change over from taking place.
The next series of films, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold, Tarzan and the Big River and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy starred Mike Henry. They at first might appear to be adventures of the Tarzan chronicled by Burroughs. This I do not believe is the case, despite the authorized novel of Tarzan and the Valley Gold by the Burroughs estate. Rather this trilogy of films chronicle the further adventures of Lord Grandrith on his last mission for the Nine and the start of his opposition to them.
Tarzan and the Valley of Gold starts with the story of a boy who wandered out the Mexican jungle and told of a lost Mayan city, rich with gold. Unfortunately the first person he told this tale to was an international criminal named Auguste Vinaro. The boy escaped and was found by Ruiz, a friend of Tarzan. Vinaro's men kidnap the boy and destroy Ruiz ranch. Members of the Mexican government offer Tarzan aid in tracking down the criminal Vinaro recovering the boy. He refuses, taking on Vinaro and his criminal cohorts with a chimp, jaguar and lion.
The truth of the matter was that there was indeed a lost city. Only it was of the Olmecs. This in fact was the home city of the Olmec member of the Nine. One of the citizens of the Olmec city was dissatisfied with the manner in which the Olmec Elder preserved his homeland by maintaining a static society. The Olmec rebel left the city and made an alliance with a renegade servant of the Nine to steal the city's golden treasures and force it be acknowledged by the world.
Tarzan has to stop the renegade servant and silence the Olmec dissident. He then has to make certain that the Olmec city is not found by the modern world and seals the entrance to the cavern.
Although most people might consider this particular film as Burroughsian canon I do not for these reasons. I don't think I will change anyone's mind but my reasoning for this is as follows. The film concept came before the novel. Even though the Burroughs estate authorized the novel based on the film, it was not based on any story ideas or partial manuscripts left by the Master as in the The Lost Adventure or Dark Heart of Time both of which arose at least in part from ideas left behind by Burroughs. The character of Tarzan in the film and in the novelization, although closer to Burroughs vision than perhaps any others was still different. Unlike when I read other pastiches, even the comic books ones, I just did not get the feel of this being Burrough's Tarzan. Admittedly the character is not identical with Grandrith's either but the feeling of a secret mission felt like one of his Missions for the Nine. I know this is rather arbitrary but that's why I included it as a Grandrith Adventure.
Since this article first appeared new information has made me revise my theory on Tarzan and the
. For more information please visit the article, Tarzans in the Valley of Gold. Valleyof Gold
Tarzan and the Big River at first appears to be a combination of Tarzan's Fight for Life and Tarzan and the Leopard Woman the issues involved are actually center on who will control the
A renegade servant of the Nine, Barcuna seizes power among the natives in
. He causes massive work stoppages as people from all over Brazil and up and down the Amazon join his Jaguar Cult. He is building a power base for later action against the governments of Brazil and other South American countries. He promises death to those who will not join the Cult. And death does come, in the form of disease. The unbelieving villages and towns are raided by warriors wearing Jaguar costumes. They merely scratch their victims with disease infected leopard paws and let the disease run its course. Grandrith's mission is stop and kill Barcuna and to end the disease. He is accompanied by a female doctor who knows nothing of the Nine. Brazil
This was the last mission that Grandrith had carried out for the Nine.
Grandrith himself stated that he had undergone missions for the Nine in
and Brazil . Why he did not mention the others could be because they were not official missions but rather "favors" for individual members of the Nine. Thailand
Tarzan and the Jungle Boy takes place shortly after Grandrith's battle with Doc Caliban. He had heard that die hard adherents of XauXaz were continuing a project that he had begun a year or so prior to his death. This project was as always to create the incarnation of the Undying God. To this end he had stranded a young boy in the Amazon jungle. The African jungle was becoming too traveled and he wanted to see how a boy who had already acquired language skills would fare.
Grandrith is accompanied by a news photographer and his female reporter fiancé on a journey to find the boy who was abandoned in the jungle six years earlier. The search party must also battle an evil native, who is out to kill the boy and take over as chief of his brother's tribe.
Although Grandrith did not know it at the time, XauXaz had made similar attempts earlier. By the time Grandrith was in his late twenties, XauXaz knew that he was not the Tarzan he had remembered from his youth. He never publicly admitted this to any of the Nine out of sheer stubbornness and fear of losing face. He publicly maintained the Grandrith was the One. However using two of his many offspring he made three other attempts. He had revealed to one of his sons, preparatory to giving him the elixir, the Great Work, that Tarzan was a real person and that it was the Nine's mission to make certain that he was created.
The son was one of few people upon whom the elixir has no effect. This drove him insane. The son, named Boygur, became obsessed with completing the Great Work before his all too short life span. Xauxaz, realizing that his son was lost to him encouraged him with the effort and surreptitiously supplied him with wealth and land. He also pointed him to a family that possessed the right qualities needed to become Lord of the Jungle. They were also descended from his multitudes of children in
, the father was name Ivor Montaux-Tyger Thorsbight. England
They had lived in
where their first child was born. When it was less than a year old it was kidnapped by Boygur who had it raised by a female gorilla in a large area of African property that he owned. The child died of sickness. A year and a half later they had another baby. In less than a years time, it too would be kidnapped and raised by gorillas but because gorillas have no verbal language the boy Jib never developed language skills and therefore higher cognitive skills. Finally the Thorsbights traveled to South Africa supposing their family would be safer there. They had another child and despite all their precautions, it too was stolen. The wife died of grief and the husband committed suicide. England
Boygur hired dwarfs to pretend to be apes and had the child raised by them. The results of this successful experiment are described in Philip Jose Farmer's Lord Tyger.
Return to the Table of Contents
© 2000 Dennis Power