Customer Reviews: Tarzan and the Golden Lion
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on September 16, 2006
Long before Johnny Weissmuller made the character of Tarzan immortal for all time back in the 1940s, audiences were already thrilled to see exotic jungle action in the silent era, and this 1927 silent Tarzan could well rival the Weissmuller Tarzan adventures. Unlike many B-grade Tarzan movies over the years, this 1-hour action-packed adventure has several important highlights such as real animals (no fake, stuffed lions or apes) fairly authentic-looking natives, real action without tricks or stunts, and Tarzan himself comes off as quite realistic and believable. I was particularly pleased to see many scenes with Jab, Tarzan's pet lion, who behaves more like a dog, but is without a doubt a beautiful, real lion. This fast-paced story is much along the lines of the 1940s classics most of us are familiar with: somewhere deep in the jungle, an exotic (and un-African-looking) temple of sun-worshippers hides a team of greedy white men who have discovered a rich diamond mine under the temple. Another white man held prisoner by them escapes and tells Tarzan and his friends about his experience, but the leader of another team of thieves overhears the story of the diamond mine and determines to get them for himself. Along with Tarzan in this film is Jane, who is always dressed as an English lady, (since she is Lady Grestoke, after all) Tarzan's sister from England and a male companion, who find themselves in trouble when the diamond-hunters force them to show them the way to the temple and diamonds. At the climax, Tarzan's sister is about to be sacrificed to the natives' sun god, the warrior tribes fight each other, and Tarzan gets the baddies and saves the girl... with a little help from his lion companion. An unlikely story and even more unlikely costumes at times, but then again, that just seems to be the appeal of Tarzan. And this film is no exception so Tarzan fans shouldn't be disappointed. Boris Karloff fans, however, might be a little disappointed because although his name appears right after the lead role, James Pierce, Karloff plays only a small part, namely a rebel native warrior who sides with the diamond hunters. The picture quality is reasonably good for this low-price DVD; though more like VHS quality than sharp, clear DVD, and although I could imagine a more suitable exotic musical score to fit the scenes and action, the piano accompaniment on this DVD is not bad in itself, and pleasing to hear. Certainly good value for money, and like all Tarzan films, good and fun entertainment.
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on September 5, 2012
While one more silent and a semi silent/sound serial were released after this film "Tarzan and the Golden Lion" was historically the last silent Tarzan feature film released before MGM took over the franchise. Long thought lost (I once saw James-Tarzan-Pierce interviewed during a Tarzan reunion on the Tonight Show sometime in the 70's where he said he had long sought a copy of it even contacting the Kennedy family - it seems that old Joe Kennedy had some hand in producing it - but at the time no copies of it could be found)it is good to have such a quality print of this still enjoyable film for viewing.

"Tarzan and the Golden Lion" is one of the few Tarzan novels that I never got around to reading so I can not say how faithful it was to the novel but there are reports that ERB was very happy with it. The film stars Big Jim Pierce as Tarzan and Dorothy Dunbar who has very little to do as Jane. Since this movie was released before MGM much more famous take on the ape man Tarzan is presented as the educated hero who is at home in formal wear as he is his his jungle gear. The plot involves evil white hunters led by Esteban (Frederick Peters) kidnapping Tarzan's sister Betty - Edna Murphy with the hope that she can help lead him to some rich hidden jungle city. But wait, considering Tarzan's origins how did he ever come by sister. The only sister he could have ever possibly had would have been a step sister who would have had to have been a ape. But anyway Tarzan sets out in pursuit accompanied by his pet lion Jad the golden lion of the title. The scenes of Pierce inter acting with this full grown seeming young lion are quite good and convincing. Don't expect a great work of art with this film but just sit back and enjoy a Saturday morning matinee type film.

While for the most part this short film holds up well for modern viewers I most point out something that bothered me about it. The villain Esteban is supposed to look a lot like Tarzan that when he changes into a copy of Pierces's version of the ape man's jungle wear (the over the shoulder, leopard print George of the Jungle style suit) he is supposed to be able to pass for him. Sadly Peters looks nothing like Pierce lacking all the ape man actor's muscular development. No one in their right mind should have fooled by his act.

NOTE: Pierce who was said to have been selected by ERB himself to play Tarzan began a long history in the role. After marrying ERB's daughter Joan the two went on to appear as Tarzan and Jane in a long running radio serial. As a wedding present to Pierce ERB wrote into the contract for the rights to another Tarzan film that Pierce would play the part. Only the producer tricked him out of it replacing him with Buster Crabbe. Pierce and Crabbe would later work together in the first Flash Gordon serial where he played Prince Thun of the Lion Men.

Boris Karloff also appears as an evil African native called Owaza. While he doesn't give a bad performance I find him less convincing here as an African native than I found him as the Frankenstein monster.

This film went unseen for so many years that when Eabe Essoe published his very flawed but still informative work "Tarzan of the Movies" in 1968 he seemed to have based his write up on the novel and not from an actual viewing of the film. As a result there are certain errors in his text. For one he doesn't identify Betty as Tarzan's sister but as I assume the character presented in the novel. Also several stills in the book identify Peters while posing as Tarzan as Pierce.
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on February 19, 2014
I'm not specifically a Tarzan fan but a silent movie fan, so take this with a grain of salt. The big billing on the cover lists James Pierce (Tarzan) and Boris Karloff (Chief of the natives on the bad side, but not in charge), but Boris' part is really only a bit part and seen only in a few scenes, they are just using his name to sell the DVD.
The film quality is quite high, though a bit grainy, but by high I mean very easy to watch, even the dark scenes are crystal clear as to what's going on, and no washing out of faces often seen in early silents, though this one is 1927. The editing is good so you are never lost. At one point I thought you could almost dub this with speaking as it's almost talkie quality in some ways. The movie is very typical Tarzan and indeed quite predictable, in fact in one aspect just plain dead obvious where they are going. There's a point in the movie where the bad guys clearly have guns, yet later on the good side uses the sound of the guns to scare the other side away, so pretty lame in some ways. Another key character looks like an ancient man but later he looks far younger (shaved) than he was portrayed, so there's some pretty lame goings on, but it's still fun to watch. There are two ladies in the show, "Jane" and "Jane's sister". They are both very pretty so they make it nice to watch if that helps. The movie is only 59 minutes long and that's all you get, no bonus short or clips, so there's that to think about. If you are a Tarzan fan it's worth the price, but don't get it for Boris Karloff, unless you are a completeist. As a silent...? well I mean...It's Tarzan... in a contemporary scenes... so you're on your own there.
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on October 5, 2015
I have this film on a VHS tape and the quality is not half as good as the DVD I just purchased. Great product for a great price.
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on July 8, 2015
Interesting to have and see such a variety of old Tarzan films and how the changing of the years has altered the character.
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on January 20, 2016
all is great
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