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TARZAN THE FEARLESS (director: Robert F. Hill; screenwriters: Walter Anthony/Basil Dickey/George Plympton/based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographers: Joseph Brotherton/Harry Neumann; editor: Carl Himm; cast: Buster Crabbe (Tarzan), Jaqueline Wells (Mary Brooks), E. Alyn Warren (Dr. Brooks), Edward Woods (Bob Hall), Frank Lackteen (Abdul), Matthew Betz (Nick Moran), Philo McCullough(Jeff Herbert), Mischa Auer (Eltar, High Priest of Zar); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol Lesser; Principal; 1933)

Independent producer Sol Lesser presents a much inferior Tarzan to rival MGM’s Tarzan serials.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Independent producer Sol Lesser presents a much inferior Tarzan to rival MGM’s Tarzan serials. Both attained rights from Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. This film covers four parts of a 12-part serial, a serial that’s now lost. Swimming champ Buster Crabbe replaces MGM’s Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, but though impressive as to his physicality nevertheless he’s still less appealing as an actor and had the decency to make this the first and last time he played Tarzan–for Buster the more appealing role of Flash Gordon was waiting for him in the near future. Director Robert F. Hill (“Wild Horse Canyon”/”East Side Kids”/”Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars”)keeps things incoherent with his inability to tell the straight children’s adventure story as is without users fillers or introducing overwrought subplots, having a plotline that’s disjointed, and subjecting us to such trite dialogue and such a cornball romance for Tarzan.

English subjects Mary Brooks (Jaqueline Wells) and her wannabe boyfriend Bob Hall (Edward Woods) are in Africa searching for Mary’s lost scientist father, Dr. Brooks (E. Alyn Warren). The old man is studying African races and religions, and is being held prisoner by the followers of Zar, an idol worshiping people whose God possesses five priceless emeralds embedded in the idol’s knuckles and who live in secret in a lost city of caves. The High Priest (Mischa Auer) explains to the scientist we don’t want visitors and if we let you go you will tell others. In their safari search for the scientist, Mary and Bob are in the hands of scoundrel guides looking to make a fast buck: the oily English head guide Jeff Herbert (Philo McCullough) and his thuggish American assistant Nick Moran (Matthew Betz).

Before captured by the Zar cult, Tarzan is asked by Dr. Brooks to find his daughter and bring her to his hut. The dutiful Apeman meets Mary in the jungle and the two are attracted to each other. When Jeff sees Tarzan, his eyes light up as he possesses a letter from the solicitor to the executor of the late Lord Greyfriar’s estate, and notes there’s an offer of £10,000 for proof that Tarzan, Lord Greyfriar’s son and heir, is dead. Jeff now plans on killing Tarzan, marrying the pretty Mary and stealing the emeralds of Zar. A good thing Tarzan is around to straighten everybody out, including rescuing the scientist from the Zar group.

The pic was slightly entertaining, but only in the most primitive way. Since it only covers the first four parts of the serial, the ending that has Tarzan and Mary getting cozy as she teaches him English, just serves as a tease ending to lure the viewer into seeing the eight other chapters in the serial.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”