Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


TARZAN TRIUMPHS (1943). Director: William Thiele.

Jane is out of Africa looking after her sick mother when who should show up but the beauteous Zandra (Frances Gifford of Jungle Girl). She saves Boy's life but then finds herself in trouble when a pack of loathsome Nazis -- who first pretend to be friends -- descend on her tribe in the city of Pallandria and begin to enslave them. At first Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) stays out of the conflict, making him seem not very heroic, but he cries "Now Tarzan make war!" when Boy (Johnny Sheffield of Bomba the Jungle Boy) is kidnapped and he, Zandra, Boy -- and of course, the magnificent Cheeta -- roust the invasion of German soldiers. Tarzan seems pretty hot for Zandra in at least one sequence when they go swimming. The actors are all fine for this sort of thing, and Cheeta proves once again that he is the most wonderful and talented creature in all of Hollywood's animal kingdom. Cheeta dances to band music, steals grapes from monkeys (and then has to return them, chastened) and even talks on the radio to the Germans. The final shot of Cheeta about to talk to Hitler is priceless! Sig Ruman plays a Nazi sergeant.

A note of sheer disillusionment: Apparently Cheeta was actually played by a wide variety of chimpanzees. The Cheeta feted here died in 2011 and may not have appeared in any movies. Well, whichever Cheeta played what, these chimps were cute and talented and the highlight of every movie they were in.

Verdict: They should have given Cheeta -- whoever he was -- his own picture! **1/2.

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