The Last Voyage + Tarzan’s Fight For Life
Saturday, Feb 19 at 12:30 pm
Location: Bartos Screening Room
Throughout the 1950s, Strode was rarely seen wearing a shirt on-screen. His famously muscular torso (in the 1930s he was hired to be a nearly nude model for portraitist Leni Riefenstahl) and his fearless athleticism were his calling cards, and he was frequently visible yet often inaudible in his roles. These two films span the era during which Strode started to work with John Ford, tracing his rise, in three short years, from mute muscle to scene-stealing action hero.
The Last Voyage
Dir. Andrew L. Stone. 1961, 91 mins. 35mm. With Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, George Sanders, Edmond O’Brien, Woody Strode. This forerunner of the Hollywood disaster film—predating such star-slumming hits like Airport, The Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure by a decade—is a landmark of brazen, unsimulated action filmmaking. Freewheeling director Stone shot many flood and fire scenes on an actual decommissioned passenger ship, with Stack and other actors later reporting various close-calls and on-set injuries. Strode, as a strapping, quick-response deckhand, is still in shirtless mode, but over the course of the film he’s moved from the periphery of the frame to its center, and winds up as the only character who never slips into cowardice or terror. And the moment his fate is settled, the film abruptly ends.
Preceded by Tarzan’s Fight For Life
Dir. 1958. 86 mins, Digital Presentation. With Gordon Scott, Eve Brent, Rickie Sorensen, James Edwards, Woody Strode. Hourglass-shaped gym rat Gordon Scott takes over the vine-swinging role popularized by Johnny Weissmuller in a low-rent installment of what was already a dreadfully dated franchise. Strode plays an African tribal henchman with an inexplicable Mohawk who rebels against Western incursions and tussles with Tarzan. As was often the case during his early days in Hollywood, Strode’s physical prowess was brazenly exploited, with the then-pro wrestler tasked with standing pectoral to pectoral with Scott. Pioneering actor Edwards (Home of the Brave) plays seething chief Futa, a dispiriting squandering of talent that nonetheless deepened a bond with Strode, whom he helped mentor into more serious roles, including their reunion in the following year’s Pork Chop Hill. Removing his mohawk after the shoot left a bald head that would become Strode’s signature look.
Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.