Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943)

Article #1060 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-8-2004
Posting Date: 7-7-2004
Directed by Wilhelm Thiele
Featuring Johnny Weissmuller, Nancy Kelly, Johnny Sheffield

Tarzan, Boy and Cheetah go to the desert to gather plants for malaria serum, but they end up stranded in Balehira where Tarzan is arrested as a horse thief.

This is a fairly strange entry in the Tarzan series, with most of the action taking place in the desert rather than the jungle, and with unexpected science fiction and horror elements cropping up near the end of the movie. Jane isn’t present, as she is back home caring for war victims, so Nancy Kelly is on hand as an itinerant magician to provide the pulchritude. The story itself is fairly ordinary, but there are moments that leave me scratching my heard; for example, when Tarzan is in jail with Boy and Cheetah and after Tarzan has just strangled the guard, the keys have fallen out of reach. They concoct a scheme to escape by having Cheetah go through the window and steal turbans, so they can unwind them to make a rope to escape. My question; why didn’t they just send Cheetah through the bars of the jail to grab the keys; he’s small enough. The ending involves a giant spider, man-eating plants and Ignatz and Rumsford doing their usual wrestling bit from ONE MILLION B.C.; these guys do get around. The best moment is probably Cheetah showing off on a high wire.

This movie is not to be confused with TARZAN’S DESSERT MYSTERY, in which Tarzan tries to figure out if that’s pudding or gelatin.

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