TARZAN’S DESERT MYSTERY (director: Wilhelm Thiele; screenwriters: story by Carroll Young/Edward T. Lowe/based on the characters by Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographers: Russ Harlan/Harry Wild; editor: Ray Lockert; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Nancy Kelly (Connie Bryce), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Otto Kruger (Paul Hendrix), Joe Sawyer (Karl Straeder), Lloyd Corrigan (Sheik Abdul El Khim), Robert Lowery (Prince Selim), Frank Puglia (Magistrate), Philip Van Zandt (Kushmet), John Dehner (Sheik Amir); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol Lesser; RKO; 1943)
“I give it a pass for being so goofy and entertaining and irresistible.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An oddball Tarzan, set in the Sahara Desert. It mixed stock footage with on location filming at the Alabama Hills and in Lone Pine, California. Though wandering far afield from the usual Tarzan turf, it’s still finely directed by the Austrian-born Wilhelm Thiele (“Bridal Suite”/”Bad Little Angel”/”The Madonna’s Secret“).Its story line is far-fetched and far from believable, as Tarzan looks for a jungle medicine in the desert to treat malaria in England, takes on Nazi agents, mercenary warlike Arabs and, of course, a giant spider, man-eating plants and some prehistoric dinosaurs. I give it pass for being so goofy and entertaining and irresistible. The story is by Carroll Young and it’s written by Edward T. Lowe. This was the eighth time Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan and was the second one he made for RKO.
Jane is back in London as a nurse to help in the WWII war effort and writes her boyfriend Tarzan a letter urging him to go to the desert to get special medicine for jungle fever to help the British servicemen. Boy (Johnny Sheffield) and Cheeta, the playful pet chimp, convince Tarzan to take them with him despite his objections the desert is not as safe as the jungle. In the North African desert Tarzan liberates a wild stallion being whipped by the evil Nazi Karl Straeder (Joe Sawyer) and escorts a stranded in the desert feisty slang talking American vaudeville magician namedConnie Bryce (Nancy Kelly) to the city of Bir Herari. She was hired by the Sheik Amir (John Dehner) to deliver an important message to his fellow Yale educated buddy, Prince Selim (Robert Lowery), the son of the kindly Sheik Abdul El Khim (Lloyd Corrigan), who rules the city.
In Bir Herari, the sinister Nazi businessman Paul Hendrix (Otto Kruger), Karl’s boss, has Tarzan jailed for stealing the stallion. Meanwhile Connie delivers the message, hidden in her bracelet, to Prince Selim, who is delighted the message tells of the bad deeds planned by Hendrix and Karl and thereby he can warn his trusting ruler father of the dangers they present and have them arrested. But the baddies followed Connie and when she delivered the message in a house that wasn’t secure, they killed the Prince and framed the murder on Connie. Facing execution, it’s up to Tarzan and his animal friends to rescue Connie, take down the baddies and go into the desert jungle, where an amazing assortment of dangerous animals roam, to get Jane her medicine.
If you can get over that it makes little sense and the plot is routine, you might find it’s nevertheless a lot of fun.
REVIEWED ON 8/9/2012 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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