Cast & Crew
Betta St. James
In a small African village, Abel Banton and his sons, Coy, Martin, Johnny and Ethan, raid a mining company office, killing several policemen in the process. Insp. Wynters pursues them and manages to capture Coy, who is wanted for an earlier murder. Wynters puts Coy in a rowboat and is transporting him to jail when Abel and his boys track them down and murder Wynters to free Coy. Nearby is jungle man Tarzan, who has heard about the Bantons. Tarzan shoots at the Bantons with his bow and arrow, killing Ethan and capturing Coy. Planning to give the reward that is offered for Coy to Wynters' family, Tarzan brings Coy to the nearest town, Mantu, knowing that police captain Hayes will soon sail his riverboat through on his way to the larger town of Kairobi. Once in Mantu, however, no one except local tribesman N'Gomo will allow Tarzan to hold Coy there, as they all fear that Abel will seek revenge on them. Meanwhile, Abel deduces Tarzan's plan and attacks Hayes's riverboat before it reaches Mantu. He kills Hayes but does not harm the other passengers: Hayes's deputy, Tate; British businessman Ames and his discontented wife Fay; and American Conway and his wife Lori. The Bantons go on to Mantu, where Tarzan restrains Coy in N'Gomo's hut to keep him from alerting his family, and finally the Bantons leave in defeat. Soon after, the Ameses, Conways and Tate arrive in town and, upon hearing that Tarzan plans to bring Coy to Kairobi himself, insist on joining him. Because Ames is building a dam in the town that will bring supplies and work to hundreds, Tarzan feels obligated to escort the Englishman, and reluctantly agrees to let the others come along. He leads the trek through the dangerous jungle, preventing the arrogant Ames from shooting at wild animals, knowing the shots will alert the Bantons to their location. Meanwhile, the Bantons return to Mantu and, by threatening to kill the sick children, force the village's physician, Dr. Blake to inform them of Tarzan's plan. While his family tracks the large party, Coy manipulates Ames into confronting a leopard, but Tarzan overhears and rescues Ames. Later, they are captured by Masai warriors who bring them to their chief. The chief declares that, as Coy had earlier killed a tribesman, they have the right to sentence him. Upon learning that the chief's wife is about to give birth, Conway, a doctor who no longer trusts his own ability, offers to assist her, and the chief agrees to release Coy if Conway successfully delivers the baby. Tate, however, who speaks Swahili, deduces that if the child dies, the chief will kill both Coy and Tarzan. With Lori's help, Conway delivers a healthy boy, and the Masais invite them all to a celebration. Back on the trail the next day, as the Bantons track the party, awaiting a signal from Coy, Coy convinces Ames that a branch is a snake, and when Ames shoots, Abel moves in on them. Frustrated, Tarzan forces his group to walk all night, and when Fay announces she is too tired to go on, Coy carries her, to her delight. In the hills above the jungle, Tarzan spots the nearby flash of the Bantons' field glasses. Coy tries to convince the others to save themselves by turning him loose, and when they refuse, he calls Ames a coward, prompting the Englishman to punch him. Knowing the Bantons will expect him to take the safe route through the hills, Tarzan leads the group through the treacherous swamp, despite the danger of stumbling into quicksand. In front of Ames, Coy flirts with Fay, who allows him to leave her handkerchief on the ground as a signal for Abel. While they slog through neck-high mud, the Bantons find the handkerchief and follow. Ames, despite his ineptitude, refuses Tate's offer of help through the swamp, hoping to maintain his self-image as a leader. As Coy taunts Tarzan, who is unsure of the route and concerned that the sun is about to set, Lori collapses and must be carried by Conway. When the group insists that they cannot go on, Tarzan is forced to camp for the night, and as he has expected, the Bantons soon find them. A shootout ensues, during which Coy scalds Tate with hot coffee and grabs Ames's gun. When Tate tries to intervene, Coy shoots him, then flees to his father. Tarzan intercepts him, however, and shoots Abel in the shoulder. While Tarzan holds Coy in quicksand to keep him from crying out, Conway leads the rest of the group on to the nearest town. As soon as the Bantons give up their search for Coy, Tarzan laboriously drags the outlaw out of the quicksand, saving his life. In town, Conway and Lori minister to Tate while Ames bemoans his previous unkindness to Tate. As Fay announces that she is leaving Ames, Lori wanders outside, where Johnny attacks her. Her screams alert Tarzan, who is just arriving with Coy in tow, and he rushes to battle Johnny, whom Tarzan is forced to shoot. Throwing the rifle down in disgust, Tarzan buries Johnny and Tate, who has died of his wounds. Later, as Abel mourns his son, Martin denounces him for turning his children into doomed criminals, and stalks away alone. That night, Tarzan's group camps only hours away from Kairobi. When he wakes in the morning, however, Tarzan discovers that Fay has freed Coy and fled with him. As Tarzan tracks them, Fay tries to seduce Coy, but the outlaw abandons her and she is soon mauled by a tiger. Just as Coy meets Abel, Tarzan finds them both. Coy shoots at Tarzan but the bullet ricochets, killing Abel. The two enemies then fight hand-to-hand, first in the river and then on land. Finally, Tarzan knocks out Coy and carries him to Kairobi, where he presents him to the police. After ensuring that Conway will bring the reward to the Wynters and the stolen money back to the mining company, Tarzan disappears into the jungle. Conway, with newly restored dignity, comments that perhaps Tarzan's jungle is preferable to the civilized world.
Betta St. James
First Tarzan movie with sound that didn't feature the ape-call. Despite protests from fans, the producers decided it had been ridiculed too often to remain effective.
Jock Mahoney plays evil Coy Banton to Gordon Scott's Tarzan. Mahoney took over the Tarzan role in Tarzan Goes to India (1962).
The opening title card reads "Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan the Magnificent." The opening credits end with the written statement: "This film was made in Africa with the cooperation of the Kenya government, the Kikuyu and Masai tribes." A final statement after the closing credits thanks the East African Film Services. The opening and closing cast credits vary in order.
As confirmed in the studio's offical website, interiors were shot in the Shepperton Studios in London. Jock Mahoney, who played the villain "Coy Banton" in Tarzan the Magnificent, went on to play "Tarzan" in the next two films of the series, and returned in 1970 for Tarzan's Deadly Silence (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70). This film marked the last of five performances by Gordon Scott as Tarzan. Both Scott and Mahoney performed their own stunts during the production. Gary Cockrell made his feature film debut in Tarzan the Magnificent.
As with the previous Sy Weintraub-produced Tarzan film, Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (see below), Tarzan the Magnificent portrayed an articulate, sophisticated Tarzan, showed "Cheetah" only briefly and did not include the "Jane" character. It also marked the first picture of the series in which Tarzan does not emit his trademark yell. Several reviews noted the resemblance of this film to a Western, including the similarity of the antagonists, the Banton family, to the familiar Western villains, the Clanton brothers. In addition, the Hollywood Reporter review pointed out that in this film, unlike in the previous Tarzan pictures, the natives and Tarzan speak Swahili rather than a nonsensical language.