Monday, June 18, 2018

Jane pushes the broom

This post was originally going to be about Tarzan and Jane, and how Jane's costume radically changed between 1934 (Tarzan and his Mate, with the infamous nude swimming scene) and Tarzan Escapes in 1936, in which she wore something like gym bloomers coming all the way up to her neck and all the way down to her knees. But I couldn't find a video clip that illustrated all that, so I couldn't make any gifs.

So I used Betty Boop instead.

Nowhere is the repressive, soul-deadening Hays Code more vividly displayed than in Betty's change from a hot little floozie to a housewife pushing a broom. I mean, LITERALLY pushing a broom! In Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan and Jane had enough physicality and emotional chemistry to somehow imply a sexual relationship - still pretty taboo, given the fact that they weren't married.

There is one gorgeous scene, which I can't find, in which Jane lies back langorously by the river, managing to look sexy in the unsexiest clothing imagineable. Tarzan gives her a tropical flower, towering over her as she looks up in a kind of half-frightened awe (and in case you haven't seen one of these for a while, Tarzan is quite rough on Jane and even overwhelms her). The way he silently falls to his knees says it all, as does her hand as it slowly and langorously lets go of the flower so that it slides into the current.

So they got around it, with the finest acting and directing, and the best body in Hollywood.

But poor Betty Boop. Just look at her! Navy blue dress, looking like some military surplus, skirt even below the knees and shoulders decently covered. She would never be the same. For she belonged to the boop-a-doop '20s and early '30s, before the forces of suffocating decency descended like a toxic cloud.

And yet, what she's wearing in the other three is - even by today's standards - kind of scanty. Hell, in that hula scene she's hardly wearing anything at all! She even breaks the sacred Disney blurred-nipple rule for a split-second. Would that be acceptable for family viewing today?

P., S. I found it! I found it! This is the most erotic scene in the whole erotic Tarzan series.  And yet, they get around the Hays code very nicely, flouting those repressive rules. Maureen O'Sullivan does it with her face, and Weismuller with that incredible body.