Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

Article 1878 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-6-2006
Posting Date: 10-3-2006
Directed by William Thiele
Featuring Johnny Weissmuller, Johnny Sheffield, Frances Gifford

A princess of a lost civilization flees to Tarzan when her city is overrun with Nazi invaders. Tarzan is reluctant to save her people until the Nazis kidnap Boy.

With this movie, I have now completed the entire Tarzan series with Weissmuller in the role. This was the first one after RKO took over the series from MGM, and the character of Jane is not present since Maureen O’Sullivan had stopped doing the role and no replacement had been found; Frances Gifford serves as something of a mock Jane in the character of Zandra. This series brought back a certain amount of savagery to the series, largely because the advent of wartime propaganda made the savagery fashionable; the Nazis themselves are portrayed as violent brutes, ruthless, heartless and often stupid as well. Because they were Nazis, they were allowed to do horrible things in the movies, and because they were Nazis, it was acceptable to do horrible things back to them. Everyone gets into the act, too; this may be the sole time Boy was allowed to kill someone, and Cheeta even manages to get hold of a machine gun to mow a few of them down. The movie is almost surreal at times; when the monkeys shake the leaves in the trees to cover Tarzan’s body so he won’t be discovered by the Nazis, one can only marvel at how evil the characters must be if even the monkeys can tell. Cheeta steals the show here, though; his constant absconding of a crucial part to the Nazi radio, his screams of terror when Boy is caught and tortured by the Nazis, and the aforementioned machine gun scene are all memorable. Still, I do miss the MGM days when I watch the RKO Tarzans; the MGMs usually had a lot more elephants.

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