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When Tarzan in New York (1942), the sixth of MGM's jungle adventures starring Johnny Weissmuller, underperformed at the box office, the studio passed the series off to RKO Radio Pictures. Under the custodial eye of producer Sol Lesser, the franchise continued for another fifteen films, beginning with Tarzan Triumphs in 1943. Absenting herself from the series at this point was Margaret O'Sullivan, who had played Tarzan's better half Jane since Tarzan and His Mate (1934). For the first two entries of the RKO years, Jane was explained away as visiting her native England while RKO executives searched for Sullivan's replacement. They found her in Brenda Joyce, a former Fox starlet returning to work after an extended maternity leave. Set in and around a hidden jungle city boasting vast riches, Tarzan and the Amazons owes as much of a debt to H. Rider Haggard as to Edgar Rice Burroughs, though Amazon queen Maria Ouspenskaya is a decidedly geriatric She Who Must Be Obeyed. Weissmuller, Joyce, and "Boy" Johnny Sheffield would keep happy company for three more pictures, until Weissmuller turned the role over to Lex Barker in 1949. Joyce played Jane to Barker's Tarzan once, in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949), before ceding the part to Vanessa Brown for Tarzan and the Slave Girl. Tarzan and the Amazons director Kurt Neumann is perhaps best known for helming the sci-fi classic The Fly (1958).
By Richard Harland Smith