I just finished Tarzan the Ape Man
. It's basically 100 minutes of casual racism, cruelty to animals, and Stockholm syndrome, but aside from that it's a very well-made film for 1932. There are some really impressive special effects, particularly in the cliff sequence, and some pretty big action sequences. I like how Jane is written and acted in the first act; it was amusing how she said she was done with civilization and intended to be a savage now (foreshadowing?), but then had six huge steamer trunks of belongings carried in (not so much). Basically the Mrs. Howell school of roughing it, I guess. She managed to be both vacuous and strong-willed at the same time, although that characterization was somewhat undermined in retrospect by the fact that Jane didn't really change at all by the end of the movie. What I'd thought was a nice bit of character acting from Maureen O'Sullivan was, I guess, pretty much the only mode she had, aside from scared and screaming.
I know I saw this movie several times when I was young, but I'm not sure if I recognized that the male lead was a young Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton). He made a pretty good leading man in his prime. But his character -- hoo boy. They kept showing him brutally whipping the African servants to force their compliance, and for a few minutes I allowed myself to hope that they were setting him up as the villain and he'd get his comeuppance; but no, he's actually meant to be a hero. At least he offered a token "Poor devil" for the bearer that fell off the cliff, but only after he and Jane's father addressed their primary concern, the lost supplies. Man, we were a sick and twisted civilization not that long ago at all.