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Monday, 13 July 2015

Pulp Picture Of The Week: Tarzan And The Leopard Woman (1946)


Growing up in the '70s, Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan reruns were a fixture on television's three channels. My favourite was Tarzan And The Leopard Woman.

Sadly, these days, despite the millions of channels we now have on offer, you rarely - if ever - see the old Tarzan movies, so I had to turn to eBay to pick up a bargain DVD box set of half-a-dozen Tarzan tales, including Tarzan And The Leopard Woman.

I hadn't seen this film for decades and had forgotten what it was that had so appealed to me as a youngster. Turns out it was cosplay.

Within moments I was transported back to my childhood; with my parents' old leopard-print car rug thrown over my shoulders and a handful of cutlery I became a leopard god-worshipping cultist again!

The Leopard Men, wearing their parents' old car rugs...

Tarzan And The Leopard Woman is a very simple, but smart, 75-minute tale, about a tribe of leopard god worshippers, who mask their attacks as the work of real leopards, trying to prevent British colonists from forcing 'civilization' on their home land.

The cultists are aided by Ameer Lazar (Edgar Barrier), a Western-educated native doctor who resents the West's domination of the area, but they foolishly think they're smarter than Tarzan.

Tarzan is joined by stalwart companions Jane (Brenda Joyce), Boy (Johnny Sheffield) and Cheeta the chimpanzee.

But trouble starts brewing on the home-front with the arrival of Kimba (Tommy Cook), who claims to be have gotten lost in the jungle, but is actually the younger brother of the Leopard Men's priestess Queen Lea (Acquanetta).

Young Kimba is torn between his boyish crush on Jane and his desire to prove himself as a warrior and return to the Leopard Men with her heart... literally.

Having tricked the colonials into thinking the attacks on caravans were simply the work of hungry leopards, and that they had now wiped them out, the Leopard Men then launch an attack on a caravan bearing four young women from Zambezi, destined to become teachers in the new British colony.

The women, along with Tarzan, Jane and Boy, are kidnapped - to be sacrificed to the Leopard God.

But luckily Cheeta is on hand to save the day!

The truth is, watched with 21st Century eyes, we have to have a certain amount of sympathy for the "bad guys", but - as is often the case - they simply go too far.

Tarzan And The Leopard Woman is a glorious slice of black-and-white pulp adventure, with the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden doubling nicely as the African jungle.

Queen Lea of The Leopard Men (Acquanetta).

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