She-Devils, Tarzan Marathon and Political Shriekings, wheee!

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from Alamy. Now, that’s a damn title for the ages.

I watched a movie called Tarzan and the She-Devil. Yes, I did. Why?

Well, it was on TMC, which has been showing Tarzan movies for days now for some reason. I got to see the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan, the Ape Man, and part of Tarzan and His Mate. I’ve seen both already, if we’re all being strictly honest here.

So there it was. With that title. Come on! You’d scroll past that title?

Is it weird 1950’s era porn? It is a horror movie? Is Tarzan facing off against the actual devil, who’s a woman?? What can it be?

I read the synopsis–Lyra wants Tarzan to bring her lots of elephants to kill so she can harvest their ivory, but Tarzan refuses.

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Monique Van Voreen as Lyra, the She-Devil. From Down Memory Lane.

So, in trying to get Tarzan to comply, Lyra has her henchmen [one played by Raymond Burr, who oddly reminded me of the guy who plays Negan on the Walking Dead.] kidnap Jane to persuade Our Hero to do as Lyra wants.

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Raymond Burr as Vargo. from Rare Films.
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Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, from the Walking Dead. For compare and contrast fun.

The henchmen, of course, mess this up! Jane is presumed dead, the tree house gets burned down, Tarzan gets captured. What?? 

SPOILER——–> Don’t worry. Tarzan wins the day.

There’s also, gulp, some tribe of white folks living in the…African jungle, who look like products of actual Aryan breeding, right down to the curly blond hair and Nordic cheekbones galore. And that’s just the manly men of that tribe. Yeah. Uh.

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from Pinterest. See what I mean? Yep. Also– the lack of hirsuteness. ?

My mind went pffft.

And stayed off the rest of the movie, it had to, out of sheer primal survival needs.

This tribe of Vikings gets tapped to do the heavy lifting as the ‘natives’ are, um, lazy and don’t wanna work hard and…PFFFFT.  The men get captured, helped to escape, by Tarzan and then re-captured because…SHE-DEVIL wants her some money-making ivory, baby!

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Joyce MacKenzie as Jane and Lex Barker as Tarzan. From Rare Film

So, Jane fights the same snake and crocodile from all the other movies, gets sick, has to be healed by a guy dressed in straw and beads, and Tarzan allows himself to be gently tortured by Raymond Burr. Whose character, by the way, is the actual villain of the movie.

The she-devil seems oddly caring and concerned about people, especially Tarzan. Who’s this 6’4″ GORGEOUS man with blond hair and Weissmuller’s swimmer build.

I then note this actor, Lex Barker, has played Tarzan about five times. And died in his early fifties. Ah! Sad!

Because, yes, I looked this movie up on IMDB.  I’d never heard of it.

Because it stormed all afternoon so I couldn’t stare at my mini garden, looking for new leaves. Or take a quick peek into the bird’s nest in the privet hedge. Or go look for the dog’s lost ball, which he loves and wants back. It’s been lost for days now.

Yes, actual thunderstorms and some actual rain.

Of course, all the animal stuff, it just jars you. You know good and well animals were hurt during the Tarzan shoots, you just freaking know that. But.

When the editing is off or does those jumps, you notice how the elephant will lie down first and then get attacked and ‘killed’. I also noted that the monkeys, in one of the Tarzan movies I peeked at for a bit…and I watched several because I’m a sad sad little shut-in…were actually people in monkey suits. Cheetah was real, at times. I guess?

At one point, Tarzan jumped on a hippo to escape crocodiles. There was the shot of an actual hippo and then the very fake hippo with Tarzan sprawled across that weird fake back like some sort of human frog.

Oh and my fave. When Tarzan fights not one, but two lions. That was not in the She-Devil one, and was Johnny, not Lex.

We clearly see the fake lion that Tarzan wrestles, mixed in with a real lion that just growls and runs about looking spooked…as if someone had a whip and chair and a torch off-screen to get it to go where the director wants. I don’t know if that’s what they did, but that’s what it looks like.

So, our manly jungle man kills the lioness, then faces off against a lion. Back to back fights with giant felines.

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Weissmuller and lion. from the Film Experience

Tarzan also is seen taking on a gnu, killing it with a small knife after twisting its head about as the animal yells accordingly, and then cutting off a hunk of raw meat from the carcass as yet another lion runs up to drag off this dead beast as Tarzan heads up the nearest tree, one hand full of actual raw meat.

Jarred is rather too polite a word to express my inner WTF screaming.

Was that a real goddamn gnu? It sure looked a little too real. Brain PFFFT. Ah, that’s better.

Okay.

If you’ve seen any of the creaky Tarzan flicks, you know a bit of what I’m blithering on about.

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Johnny Weissmuller. 

Oh my gosh, the rampant racism…can I get an amen? It’s…wow. You just…wow.

And I don’t remember which film this was, but I do remember Weissmuller in it– where I think it was supposed to be pygmies who had a pit with a giant ape-thing in it. Who killed whatever victims the pygmies? children dressed up in weird ways? threw down to it.

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The, uh, Pygmies, from 1932’s Tarzan, the Ape Man. Wikipedia

Now, the monkey monster thing was a man, obviously so, dressed up in some sort of monkey outfit. And oddly more pitiful than scary. I wasn’t scared of that thing. It was deformed and lumpy and sad. I wanted to help it.

Yeah, it was tossing victims around like they were stuffed bunnies, but…still. One of the intended victims was, ahem, Jane. Who got to do the faint and be carried bit. Oh my! That same limp draped in the villain’s or monster’s arms popular go-to.

Oh the pygmies. Or Little People in blackface. Or children. Or…yeah. That was. You just. Your brain stops.

You’re going, am I seeing this? Is that, uh, what is that? What’s happening here? And then you go– golly, so glad we’re in post-racist times! [Sarcasm. That was sarcasm.]

You then switch over to the Hallmark movie where a young couple fight gently to remain in love and save their bed and breakfast and the guy gives up Manhattan for a goat. A goat. He misses the goats. 

So, yeah, I switched back to Tarzan. I’m a sad little shut-in, did I mention that??

Why am I writing about Tarzan movies that today would be rightfully skewered for their KKK-esque treatment of Africa and all that?

I’ve been avoiding a big long political rant for some time because…I’d lose my marbles and not get them back for some time if I did.

SPOILER—————> Political shriek almost here. Look away now if you’re squeamish. 

I also have Handmaid’s Tale, season one, waiting to be watched. For a week now. 

I peek at the American political landscape and it’s almost as if this Hulu series is more of a documentary than grim misery porn entertainment.

I don’t need to watch a television series where a country morphs into some sort of hellish biological prison for women, who are forced to breed for the state. Is that not where American is headed RIGHT FUCKING NOW? Look at Iowa. Look at the Bible Belt.

You have trouble breathing as this shit starts to stack up and stack up and stack up. Is this where dictatorships starts? Of course it is.

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I don’t know who designed this. 

But where is the tide to stop the rising tide of totalitarianism? Where are the check and balances? Where are the loud-voiced pugnacious fighters on the side of common sense, common decency and basic rights for all people, not just the few selected Christian-esque males who make all the laws and hoard all the money?

Right now, it’s comedians versus politicians and actual presidents. It’s people doing satire versus people unable to understand why they are fodder for the satire cannons.

That absence of self-awareness just shines right through there on the Alt-Right. Wheee!!! It’s people greedily hurting as many as possible then claiming they’re the real victims here.

When conservatives and such are called out on their nastiness, their hypocrisy, their crimes and misdemeanors, their schemes and frauds and underhand dealings…they cry and scream and claim they’re the ones being attacked and marginalized.

And it works, it works, it works so very well.

There was an actual New York Times op-ed piece  [by Bari Weiss] on JUST THAT VERY FUCKING BULLSHIT TACTIC. Being presented as if…as if very very true.

As if those conservatives screaming and stomping in so many public places, and on the media lately and gosh, always, have been silenced and not allowed to speak at all…while speaking about how silenced they are.

With no awareness that they are speaking, about being silenced, WHILE GETTING AN INTERNATIONAL PLATFORM TO AIR THEIR ALLEGED GRIEVANCES.

God damn it. GOD DAMN IT.

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An actual sign from Maryland. This is real. 

Ah, mini political rant. Well. There ya go.

Oh and to end this weird mash-up of Tarzan and political shrieking, I got some submissions sent off. A film noir-inspired play for a contest in Los Angeles and three plays for some woman-heavy festival in Detroit. I think I’ve been rejected by both places.

But yesterday, this woman from Columbia [the country!] wants to create a work around one of my short plays, as well as use that same play for some university something or other. The Care and Feeding of Baby Birds. 

Sometimes the universe gives you a small sign that yes, you can sorta write stuff people actually do respond to once in a blue moon.

And then you wonder how Tarzan always looked so shaved and groomed in those old Tarzan movies. No chest hair. Did he manscape, too? Those loincloths don’t hide a lot.

You have to wonder about grooming because the movie itself seems full of fake stuffed animals stalking the latest  version of Jane and people dressed up like some Grand Dragon’s most acid-laced dream about Africans in actual Africa.

And those ‘long ago’ views on black people seem the same as they are right now in 2018…holy fake stuffed lion, ya’ll. 

But gee, Tarzan’s kinda nice to look at if you ignore everything else…

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Douglas P. Whitney, photo credit. 

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