A jungle and stunt picture, done in deluxe style, with tricky handling of fantastic atmosphere, and a fine, artless performance by the Olympic athlete that represents the absolute best that could be done with the character [created by Edgar Rice Burroughs].
Footage is loaded with a wealth of sensational wild animal stuff. Suspicion is unavoidable that some of it is cut-in material left over from the same producer’s Trader Horn (by the same director).
Some of the stunt episodes are grossly overdone, but the production skill and literary treatment in other directions compensates. Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) is pictured as achieving impossible feats of strength and daring. One of them has him battling single-handed, and armed only with an inadequate knife, not only with one lion but with a panther and two lions, and saved at the last minute from still a third big cat only by the friendly help of an elephant summoned by a call of distress in jungle language.
Story that introduces the Tarzan character is slight. An English trader (C. Aubrey Smith) and his young partner (Neil Hamilton) are about to start in search of the traditional elephants’ graveyard where ivory abounds, when the elder man’s daughter from England (Maureen O’Sullivan) appears at the trading post and insists upon going along. The adventures grow out of their travels.