Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

“Go to your father, Boy — and later on, he’ll teach you all the things you’ll ever need to know in the jungle.”

After a plane crashes nearby their home, Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) and Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) adopt the sole survivor — a baby who grows into an active young child they call Boy (John Sheffield). When the child’s aunt (Frieda Inescort), uncle (Ian Hunter), and another relative (Henry Stephenson) arrive to learn more about their missing relatives, they find Boy and plan to take him back to London — but will Jane and Tarzan allow their beloved son to leave?


  • Adoption
  • Africa
  • Ian Hunter Films
  • Jungles
  • Maureen O’Sullivan Films
  • Raising Kids
  • Tarzan Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this “fourth entry into Metro’s Johnny Weissmuller-Maureen O’Sullivan Tarzan series” was “supposed to be the unhappy O’Sullivan’s last, so the studio decided to kill Jane off and fill the gap in Tarzan’s life with a young adopted son, Boy” — but “fortunately, so much pressure was placed on the studio by Tarzan fans that Jane does not die, although the entire script most definitely leads up to her demise at the end” and “her recovery from a fatal injury is miraculous”. He argues that the “film is entertaining, although there’s too much footage of Tarzan and Boy swimming around and not enough intimacy between Tarzan and Jane (a bad sign that the series was becoming less adult)” — though I can’t quite agree; the presence of an active young boy brings welcome excitement and tension to the proceedings, as he’s in near-constant danger from the wildlife around him (check out those huge spiders!).

Hunter and Inescort are appropriately smarmy as the dubious relatives clearly on the take for money, not the privilege of parenting Boy.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Several memorable moments — such as Tarzan swimming with Boy, and Boy caught in a large spider web

Must See?
No; while reasonably well-made, this one is only must-see for fans of the series.


One thought on “Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

  1. Agreed; not must-see – though it’s the kind of thing that older ffs might want to share with their young’uns if they are developing their taste along film fanatic lines; with the emphasis being on Boy, budding ffs might take to it more easily and enjoy it.

    I’d seen this myself as a kid – and, seeing it again, I find it to be one of the more satisfying entries in the series (even though I’m not a huge fan of the series myself). A lot happens in a short amount of time and the various complications make for good story construction.

    I also disagree with Peary re “there’s too much footage of Tarzan and Boy swimming around”; there’s only one such sequence and, even though it’s an extended sequence, it’s organic and serves to illustrate the unique bond between Tarzan and Boy.

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