Tarzan — “The Female of the Species”

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Tarzan (1951-53) aired “The Female of the Species” on February 22, 1951. No sooner had I finished reading a fantasy novel set in Africa, than I ran across this episode of Tarzan. Not only was this a coincidence, but the fact that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day is even more apropos, as this episode centers on women. While Tarzan would prefer women more in the mold of the photo at right, from Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948), unfortunately this episode deals more with a group of women more in line with that of the woman in the photo at left, from Tarzan and the Huntress  (1947).

Our story begins when Tarzan is asked to help discover why the men of a certain tribe have gone missing. His journey leads him to a group of women, hidden deep in the recesses of Senegal and living in an ancient city, who kidnap, enslave, and force men to work themselves to the point of death, and then when their usefulness is at an end, murder them. Many men from many tribes have met their fate in this fashion. The reason? A woman of Spanish heritage was once jilted by her lover and murdered him out of spite. Moving to Africa, she gathered native women to her cause, and by force of will convinced them that all men are the devil’s spawn and should be killed. By means of a musical spell carried on the winds, all men within its range who hear it are ensorcelled and are then led to their doom. Tarzan, too, is captured by means of the hypnotic music and is sentenced to death. Being the clever Lord of the Jungle that he is he manufactures his escape, of course, and when his traveling companion asks why he didn’t seek to destroy the evil women and their city, he explains that killing women who hate men, whose only desire is to rid the world of them, is not the answer, for their minds are “twisted and warped,” and what they really need is help. I guess Tarzan got caught up in the deadly machinations of a woman scorned, and we all know the fury that can lead to. So guys, treat your women well tomorrow on Valentine’s Day…or beware!

It’s been almost a year since our last Tarzan episode. For Tarzan fans visiting here for the first time, we note that Tarzan first hit radio from 1932-36. Three long stories were aired in short 10-12 minute episodes running every few days, and Tarzan and Jane were actually played by Edgar Rice Burroughs’ daughter and her husband. For more of this fascinating behind-the-scenes story (with photos) we redirect you to our last Tarzan episode from the 1930s here.

Play Time: 25:58

{The cold days of February 1951 couldn’t stop the diehard neighborhood SF gang from traipsing to the nearest newsstand to pick up the newest issues of their favorite reading, among their choices the trio of magazines shown below. Astounding held firmly to its monthly schedule, while both Planet Stories and Startling Stories were holding to their established bi-monthly schedules. Leigh Brackett was having a productive early 1951 with her cover story for the March Planet Stories, as well as sharing honors with husband Edmond Hamilton on the March Startling Stories cover.}

[Left: Astounding, Feb. 1951 – Center: Planet Stories, Mar. 1951 – Right: Startling Stories, Mar. 1951]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.