Him Not Tarzan

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I was watching a show previously recorded on my DVR and when it was over, the system automatically switched to whatever was playing on the last accessed channel. In my case, it was the TCM (Turner Classic Movies) channel and what came on was what I thought to be the strangest Tarzan movie ever. He was racing through the jungle in shorts and a tee-shirt. No bare-chested, loin-clothed king of the jungle here.

Turns out it wasn’t Tarzan at all but a Jungle Jim movie. I know, right? Who the heck was Jungle Jim? The only jungle gym I knew was a metal monstrosity on our playground that we also called the monkey bars. Believe me, I climbed many of those in my days and managed somehow to avoid hospitalization.

A bit of research informs me that Jungle Jim was a legitimate action hero born of the comic books in the 30s and ably translated to the movies during the 40s and 50s. I can be forgiven for the Tarzan confusion because Johnny Weissmuller, probably best known for his Tarzan features, also played the title role in a series of Jungle Jim films, including the one I stumbled upon which was called The Lost Tribe. Looks like he may have packed on a few pounds since his Tarzan days, which perhaps explains the tee-shirt costuming. As a odd trivia side note, when the studio lost the rights to the Jungle Jim name but had Weissmuller under contract for three more films, they decided to shoot the Jungle Jim scripts anyway. They simply changed the name of Weissmuller’s character to… what else?… Johnny Weissmuller.

Anytime I think of Tarzan, I confess to having a bit of shame. I was tasked in junior high school with writing a essay on the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic novel. The problem was… I never took the time to read the book. Instead, I watched the movie and spoke in general terms about the character in my dissertation. I did my best to stay away from any plot specifics because I had no way of knowing if the movie was anything close to the novel. This of course was before the Internet which admittedly makes cheating so much easier.

Whatever I wrote was enough to allow me to pass the class although I can’t help thinking that it probably would have been easier just to read the book and write the essay based on what I read. Oh well… maybe next time.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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