Tarzana, the Wild Girl

Dir: Guido Malatesta
Star: Ken Clark, Franca Polesello, Beryl Cunningham, Femi Benussi

A shameless nudie-cutie knockoff of Tarzan, sees the baby grand-daughter of Lord Donovan orphaned after a plane crash in the African jungle. She survives, and grows up into an animal-calling figure, revered by the local natives. Sixteen years later, the wreckage is found, and the absence of her body causes the lord to sent a search-party out, led by famed hunter Glen Shipper (Clark), in the remote hope of finding her alive. The party have to "face" - and I'll explain why I'm using quotes in a bit - wild animals, unfriendly tribes and also sabotage from within, as Donovan's current heir is unimpressed by the thought of someone, long presumed dead, coming back to usurp him. Cue much tramping through the undergrowth, extremely badly-matched stock footage [hence the "face": it's obvious the cast never came anywhere near Africa], and a topless Tarzana (Benussi) hanging out with some menagerie off-cuts, e.g. a toucan, a listless chimp. Though the latter raises more questions than it answers. Such as, why is she so pale, after growing up in the jungle? And where does she get the bikini thong she wears? Does Victoria's Secret have a wilderness branch?

Yeah, looking for coherence here is probably not the best of ideas. Best just to enjoy the loopy insanity of it all, which reaches its apex after Shipper shoots a lion, and discovers it has a collar on it. Except the live animal he shoots miraculously turns into an obvious plush toy. Was this remotely convincing, even in 1969, when the film was released? I can only presume the makers expected the intended audience to be distracted by the sight of Ms. Benussi's bosoms - and, on balance, it is probably fair comment. Despite the copious nudity - not just from her, but also Polesello, who demonstrates remarkble sisterhood, happily whipping her top off, to prove that she is just like Tarzana [only somewhat more well-endowed, the Western world offering better nutrition]. Unfortunately, between such endearingly daft moments, there's a lot of meaningless chit-chat and tribal dancing, while even Ms. Benussi riding an elephant bareback loses its charm eventually. One of those movies you feel the MST3K crew would have elevated to a classic, improving immeasurably on the source material.

[November 2013]

Call of the wild
See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]