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TARZAN’S PERIL (director: Byron Haskin; screenwriters: Samuel Newman/Francis Swann/characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographer: Karl Struss; editor: John Murray; music: Michel Michelet; cast: Lex Barker (Tarzan), Virginia Huston (Jane), George Macready (Radijeck), Douglas Fowley (Herbert Trask), Glenn Anders (Andrews), Alan Napier (Commissioner Peters), Edward Ashley (Conners), Dorothy Dandridge (Melmendi, Queen of the Ashuba), Walter Kingsford (Barney), Frederick O’Neal (King Bulam), James Moultrie (Nessi); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol Lesser; RKO; 1951)

One of the better Tarzan films in the series.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of the better Tarzan films in the series. It was the first to be shot partially on location in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda. Lex Barker, who replaced in 1949 the iconic but overweight Tarzan played by Johnny Weissmuller, films the third of the five Tarzan films he made for RKO under producer Sol Lesser. Under the experienced hand of director Byron Haskin (“The Naked Jungle”/”Robinson Crusoe on Mars”/”The War of the Worlds”) the action scenes pack some wallop and George Macready’s villain is well played and Dorothy Dandridge, before reaching stardom, excels in her minor role as a jungle queen. The routine story is finely written by Samuel Newman and Francis Swann. Meant to be shot in Technicolor, but when half the color footage was ruined in an accident, the film was released in black and white.

Before his execution the murderous white man gunrunner Radijeck (George Macready) escapes from prison in British East Africa with the help of the greedy white criminal Trask (Douglas Fowley) and his pal Andrews (Glenn Anders), who become partners with the vicious madman in a gunrunning business. The gunrunners kill retiring Commissioner Peters (Alan Napier) and new Commissioner Connors (Edward Ashley) when stopped on a jungle road on their way to sell 200 rifles to ruthless Yorango tribal chief Bulam (Frederick O’Neal). Bulam uses the rifles to get revenge on the new neighboring African tribal queen of the Ashuba,Melmendi (Dorothy Dandridge), for rejecting his marriage proposal, and overtakes her village and holds her captive. To the rescue comes a domesticated Tarzan (Lex Barker), who feels guilty to leave his American wife Jane (Virginia Huston) home alone at their jungle tree house. Tarzan’s accompanied by pet chimp Cheetah, who mugs a lot of comical poses for the camera.

It’s highly entertaining, well-acted and the story is credible enough. It’s about all I expect from a Tarzan episode, with Barker just dandy as Tarzan.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”