When one thinks of Tarzan “Globetrotting Adventurer” is not the first thing that comes to mind but in this series, produced by Sy Weintraub, that’s exactly what Tarzan has become, and it’s actually quite a good idea. Elephants in trouble get help when Tarzan Goes to India, in Thailand, he helps put a boy on the throne with Tarzan’s Three Challenges and now Tarzan arrives in Mexico for Tarzan and the Valley of Gold. I really like the idea of an international man of mystery in a loincloth.
This isn’t just another jungle adventure in a different locale as Tarzan and the Valley of Gold is also pretty much a Bond movie, only with Tarzan replacing 007 minus the cool gadgets. At the behest of a friend, Tarzan (Mike Henry) leaves Africa and travels to Mexico only to find a hit squad waiting for him, it seems that international criminal Augustus Vinero (David Opatoshu) has had the driver that was to pick up Tarzan killed and replaced with one of his own so that the Ape Man could be driven into an ambush. Unfortunately for them, Tarzan’s keen sense of smell detected the spilled blood and is on his guard and he easily survives the gun battle with the killers and ends the fight by taking out the last hired gun with a giant Coke bottle.
I’ll just say this, it’s nice to see Tarzan arriving in a foreign country wearing a suit and a tie and not traipsing around the city in his loincloth and I would have given the film even more credit if he was addressed as John Clayton or Lord Greystoke instead of Tarzan while in his civvies, but I’m betting rights issues with those names were still in play. After taking out the hired killers Tarzan reports to the local authorities where he learns about Vinero and how the fiend that called for Tarzan had found out about a small boy who walked out of the jungle who could possibly reveal the location of a fabled valley of gold. Vinero briefly had the kid in his clutches but the boy managed to escape and now resides with Tarzan’s friend and the Ape Man is also informed that Vinero has a penchant for giving people, at least those that annoy him, gift watches that explode and kill the wearer.
When Tarzan is driven out to his friend’s compound they are too late, the place is in flames, the boy is missing and his friend is only alive long enough to confirm that it was Vinero’s men who had taken the boy. Tarzan strips out of his suit and dons his trademark loincloth and along with a chimpanzee named Dinky, a lion named Major, and the boy’s pet leopard Bianca as a tracker, he heads into the jungle to find the kidnapped child.
The leopard leads Tarzan and company right to the kidnappers and the group engages in a brutal battle that leaves all the kidnappers dead and, sadly, Bianca as well. The young boy Ramel (Manuel Padilla Jr.) doesn’t know the exact route to his home only that it is through a cave in mountains that surround his valley and they have to beat Vinero there, which will be tricky as the bastard stole the kid’s map.
This leads to one of the most badass action scenes in Tarzan history with our jungle hero facing off against Vinero’s goons. Vinero sends some men in a helicopter to take care of Tarzan but our jungle action hero unloads a Browning machine he had liberated from the dead kidnappers and when it runs out of ammunition he combines two grenades together with his rope to make a lethal exploding bolas, and one good throw later and the villains are down one helicopter.
A little word on tonight’s villain; not only does Vinero murder people with trick watches but he also kills off subordinates that look a little greedy, has a giant bald henchman named Mr. Train (Don Megowan) and when his “girlfriend” Sophia Renault (Nancy Kovack) becomes too much of a bother he leaves her in the jungle with an explosive necklace that will go off at the slightest jarring. He’s one volcano lair away from true Bond villainy.
Tarzan and Ramel find Sophia in the jungle paralyzed with fear because of the aforementioned rigged jewelry that is welded shut around her neck, but with steady hands and brute strength, Tarzan breaks the chain without causing the pendant to explode. We find out that it was Sophia that originally helped Ramel to escape the clutches of Vinero and so she now joins our happy group of adventurers.
Tarzan, Sophia, Ramel, Major and Dinky head for the City of Gold and manage to stay ahead of Vinero and his army of mercenaries. Ramel soon finally recognizes where they are and is able to lead them to the cave entrance, unfortunately, Vinero is right on their heels and it’s up to Tarzan to buy them some time. And by unfortunate I mean awesome as this leads to Tarzan stalking Vinero’s men through the caverns, taking out one of the goons, stealing his machine gun and then using it to shoot down stalactites so they fall upon more of the mercenaries.
When our group make it through to the City of Gold they are greeted quite friendly by the locals but are a bit shocked when the old chief of this lost city explain to them that they are a peaceful people and that they will not fight against Vinero’s men, “All this gold is not worth a single life.” Tarzan thinks this is a nice sentiment but not much good against a man as ruthless as Vinero.
When Tarzan makes it clear that he has no intention of letting Vinero and his men attack and pillage this city the chief imprisons Tarzan with a trick stone door that traps the jungle man. When Vinero and his army arrive they demand all the gold and to “meet their guest from Africa”, this he punctuates with an explosive shell from a tank that kills some of the peaceful inhabitants of this lost city. The Chief releases Tarzan and has all the gold piled out in the city square but he let slip that there is one piece of treasure still inside the temple. Vinero demands to see it and is taken to the “empty” treasure room where he pulls on a gold ornament on the wall that triggers the room to quickly fill with gold dust. Vinero is slowly buried alive.
Though the villain suffocating to death is pretty sweet it’s not very actiony so we also get Tarzan in a hand-to-hand battle with Vinero’s hulking henchman who he dispatches with a fatal full nelson.
Directed by Robert Day, who also directed the excellent Tarzan the Magnificent, this Bond-like Tarzan adventure is pure matinee gold, with great villains, a beautiful woman and the most badass hero to ever strap on a loincloth. What’s not to love? Mike Henry makes for a fantastic Tarzan for not only is he super ripped but he plays him like the smart and sophisticated man John Clayton Lord Greystoke would be. The Sy Weintraub series of Tarzan films continually provided the best portrayal of The Lord of the Jungle to have been brought to the big screen, and it was nice to finally see Tarzan dress appropriately when not in the jungle, him killing countless thugs with guns and grenades was just a bonus. This movie is definitely a must-see for Tarzan fans.
You can find all my Tarzan movie reviews here: Tarzan at the Movies
Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966)
Tarzan and the Valley of Gold is high adventure and Mike Henry’s Tarzan is letter perfect as is Robert Day’s direction. This is another great installment in the franchise.