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TARZAN TRIUMPHS (director: Wilhelm Thiele; screenwriters: Roy Chanslor/Carroll Young/based on the characters by Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographer: Harry Wild; editor: Hal Kern; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Johnny Sheffield (Boy), Frances Gifford (Zandra), Stanley Ridges (Colonel Von Reichart), Sig Ruman (Sergeant), Philip Van Zandt (Captain Bausch), Rex Williams (Lt. Reinhardt Schmidt), Pedro de Cordoba (Oman), Stanley Brown (Archmet); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol Lesser; RKO; 1953)

“Gets some laughs courtesy of the chimp Cheeta’s playful antics upsetting the Nazis, in this rousing flag-waver.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This was the seventh time Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan, and was the first made by RKO. The Austrian-born director Wilhelm Thiele (“Bridal Suite”/”Bad Little Angel”/”The Madonna’s Secret“), who emigrated to Hollywood in the 1930s to escape The Third Reich, gets some laughs courtesy of the chimp Cheeta’s playful antics upsetting the Nazis, in this rousing flag-waver.It was made when the US was in the midst of World War II, and goes out of the way to point out that America’s early isolationist stance didn’t work with such savages as the Nazis. It’s written byRoy Chanslor and Carroll Young.

There’s no Jane present, as Tarzan’s girlfriend is visiting her sick mother in London and Tarzan is left alone in The Mutia Escarpment to care for their young adopted son Boy (Johnny Sheffield) in their tree-house. In the jungle, German paratroopers invade the peaceful isolated lost city of Pallandria and force the trusting but naive chief (Pedro de Cordoba) and his pretty white daughter Princess Zandra (Frances Gifford) to allow his subjects to be used for slave labor to build an airport runway and dig for the valuable mineral resources of oil and tin the Nazis plan to steal from the city and bring back to Germany for the war effort. They also brutally kill Zandra’s brother Archmet (Stanley Brown), who goes to defend his sister from being pawed by the sinister Nazi commander Colonel Von Reichart (Stanley Ridges). With that, Zandra escapes over the hills, while pursued by a Nazi patrol, to find Tarzan for help. Tarzan and Boy are nursing back to health the Nazi paratrooper Lt. Reinhardt Schmidt (Rex Williams), the radio operator, who got stranded from the others and was wounded in the fall. Tarzan disappoints Zandra by not wanting to get involved in someone else’s fight, but things change when the chimp Cheeta steals the radio coil and thereby making the valuable radio, the only way of the Germans communicating with their HQs, inoperative. When the Nazi tries shooting Cheeta in revenge, Tarzan comes to his rescue and puts an end to Lt. Schmidt via an elephant pushing him off a cliff. Tarzan still refuses to get involved, even after Zandra pleads her case that the Nazis are so ruthless they will stop at nothing. But Tarzan changes his mind when the Nazis show their brutality by going after Tarzan in his jungle home to secure the radio and the missing coil, and by taking Boy as a hostage to tell them the location of the missing piece of radio equipment. Tarzan responds by saying “Now Tarzan make war!” and a franchise record of 14 are killed in all sorts of ways by the gentle noble savage Ape Man.

Tarzan leads the uprising, as the good people of Pallandria overthrow their oppressors and slaughter them. It ends with the colonel calling the command center in Berlin but not able to continue the conversion because Tarzan got him to step into a trap with a hungry lion. With the microphone still open, Cheeta talks to the commanding general in chimp talk and the general mistakes him for Hitler.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”