Welcome back! It’s Saturday morning again which means it’s time for the next chapter of our ongoing serial The Crimson Ghost and more movie serial history. (Previous Chapters: 1 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
So far, as we’ve been looking back at the history of movie serials, we’ve stayed pretty strictly in the silent era. because, of course, that’s where they were born. Now, however, it’s time to begin to make the transition to the sound era, with a serial that contained at least a partial soundtrack. Tarzan the Tiger.
First released by Universal Studios in 1929, Tarzan the Tiger was a follow-up to their 1928 release of Tarzan the Mighty. Both serials featured Frank Merrill as Tarzan and Natalie Kingston as an incredibly sexy and sensual Lady Jane (as a matter of fact, she even appears topless during a swimming hole scene in chapter 8). At least loosely based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, the serial sees Lord Greystoke retuning to the Jungle in order to retrieve the legendary jewels of Opar, which he needs to secure his title.
What makes Tarzan the Mighty most interesting for our purposes, however, is the fact that the serial was actually released in two versions, one completely silent, the other with at least a partial soundtrack. No, there is still no dialogue on the soundtrack – that was still conveyed through intertitle cards – but it does contain music and sound effects.
And remarkably, among those sound effects is the first recorded instance of the “Tarzan Yell”.
Speaking of yelling, now that we’ve reached the penultimate chapter of The Crimson Ghost, I bet there’s going to be some yelling going on in it, too. Let’s see, shall we?
Next time: The final chapter of The Crimson Ghost: “The Invisible Trail” and more movie serial history. Oh, and by the way, I am taking nominations for the next serial to feature in this spot once we finish The Crimson Ghost, so feel free to nominate one of your favorites – or one you haven’t seen but would like to – in the comments below.