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Revenge of Tarzan: 1921

Revenge of Tarzan: 1921

January 1921. The Criterion Theater in Washington, D.C. Now playing: "The Revenge of Tarzan." View full size. National Photo Company glass negative.


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Criterion Theater

From Robert K. Headley's Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.: 318 9th Street N.W. In operation 1918-ca.1945. Seating capacity 350-600, including a balcony that could seat 100. Built by Marcus Notes for about $11,000, later operated by Willie Notes for his father.

A lion?

It could even be a lion in that cage. I have a lobby display for the first Tarzan film with Johnny Weissmuller that shows a live lion cub in a cage. Or, in this case, perhaps it was some guy in an ape suit?

Live Animals? Doubtful...

My guess is the cage is just more hyperbolic decoration. I doubt the theatre owner would want to fool with real live animals, so let's just put a cage up high and label it as if there's something in there. The same kind of display could be found in department stores of my youth. (I would genuinely like to be proven wrong on this one.)

[It's white. - Dave]

At the Movies

Didn't movies generally run for a week or so back then? It's before my time, but I thought everyone who could afford it went to their (single-screen) theater to see a movie every week. It does look like great fun.

More Please

I hope Shorpy will be sprinkling a series of these movie theater studies into the mix in the future. Not only do I love the old theater buildings, I love the movie promotion ephemera.

Silents Are Golden

As far as the quality of the movies in the silent period, it's hard to know, particularly since this one is lost, but from the cast list they seem to be sticking pretty close to the concept of the books. This also seems true in the earlier movies - "Tarzan of the Apes" and "The Romance of Tarzan" - as well as the next production in the series "Son of Tarzan." Indeed the silent Tarzan's all seem to stick to Burrough's concept of triumph of Nature over Nurture (despite being raised by apes Tarzan quickly becomes a civilized English Lord once exposed to humanity). I'm not sure why the decision to make the sound pictures so different was made - the whole "Me Tarzan, you Jane" thing - but the cynic in me wants to believe it was because of the severe limitations of Johnny Weissmuller as an actor.

Live Animals?

Oh, interesting! I am going to guess a monkey. You may be able to see a tail sticking out on the horizontal cage bar, just above and to the right of the sign. I also see, in total silouette, a possible arm and ear above the "tail", but it may just be shadow play. If it is an ear, it isn't a monkey, though. Maybe a wallaby? Can we get one of those amazing, clear closeups on that cage?


I wonder...

...if the movies were any better without the dialogue that the actors in Tarzan "talkies" had to contend with?

I loved the books though! (Politically incorrect that they would be in today's world) They were a bit melodramatic, but great fun. Tarzan was not the idiot he was often portrayed as in film.


Where were the emulsion originals stored? So many got moldy, like on the brick work above.

[They were donated to the Library of Congress in 1947. - Dave]


That is an incredibly impressive display--especially for a movie that only ran a week! I wonder who was in charge of these elaborate displays--if they arose from the impetus of individual, particularly ambitious theatre owners, or if promotional decoration kits were somehow distributed with the movie?

I would love to see a picture of this theatre being decorated. One of the last times I went to a movie, two teenaged male theatre employees were struggling to assemble a giant cardboard couch and donut to promote "The Simpsons Movie" as we went to our theatre. When we came out of our movie, the poor things were still struggling with it. I can easily imagine a similar theme playing out with fake vines 80+ years ago!

Me Tarzan, Here One Week

The Criterion Theater was at 9th and D streets Northwest. The Revenge of Tarzan, "The dramatic Ape-Man story that sends thrills tingling down your spine," had a short run, playing for only one week at the end of January.

The sign on the side of the building in the distance is for Morris Tendler's tailor shop, 913 D street.

Tarzan Yell

The bewildered little boy at right doesn't seem too enthused. But as an Extreme Fan of Tarzan in my youth (when Johnny Weismuller was the hero), I would have been literally jumping up and down and emitting a Carol Burnett Tarzan yell to see this movie. This photo and the earlier one for The Mark of Zorro are good examples of the elaborate promotional displays at theaters in the 1920s. From other photos I've seen, the interior lobby displays continued the theme.


The sign under the cage on the right says "Live Animals Do Not Feed." Coolness. What's in there?

Hollywood and Vine

What a great display for January in D.C. I'd be queuing up for this in a heartbeat. Revenge of Tarzan (1921) starred New York Firefighter Joe Pohler in the lead role.

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