Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)

TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS (1948)
Article 1876 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-4-2006
Posting Date: 10-1-2006
Directed by Robert Florey
Featuring Johnny Weissmuller, Brenda Joyce, George Zucco

An unscrupulous trader makes money by disguising himself as the god of a native tribe, whose members offer pearls to him. When he decides to take one of the native girls for his bride, she escapes and runs into Tarzan. When she is kidnapped by the natives, Tarzan comes to her rescue.

It’s rather instructive to watch this, the last of the Weissmuller Tarzan movies, right after having viewed the previous one in the series, TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS . The departure of Johnny Sheffield is felt; there is very little of the interplay between the characters that made the last movie in the series enjoyable; Cheeta even seems rather dispirited, and her antics consist of little more than stealing and strumming Benji’s guitar. The whole production seems cheaper than the previous one as well, and though it’s fun to see George Zucco as the high priest, his costume unfortunately reveals how scrawny his arms and legs were at this point, and he looks emaciated and frail. The fantastic content of this one is somewhat higher than that of the previous one, though; though I neglected to mention it in my previous review, other than the slight fantasy content inherent to a Tarzan movie, there was little else that could be called fantastic. Here, the hint that a native god is alive gives it a stronger touch, and you’re actually a little startled the first time you see him move. This would be the last Tarzan movie for Weissmuller; though the official story was that Weissmuller was getting old and out of shape, the prologue to the AMC showing of this movie I have on tape suggests that the true reason was the producer’s desire to find a Tarzan who would work for less money, and given how much cheaper this production looked than the earlier ones, I find that quite plausible. Boy’s absence is explained by his having been sent off to school in England.

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