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

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Weissmuller and O'Sullivan
TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE (1941). Director: Richard Thorpe.

Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan), and Boy (Johnny Sheffield) are leading an idyllic life above their escarpment in Africa, when along comes Professor Elliott (Reginald Owen of The Letter) and party. Elliott is a scientist looking for the Van-Usi tribe, and he is accompanied by photographer O'Doul (Barry Fitzgerald of And Then There Were None), and the guides Medford (Tom Conway) and Vandemeer (Philip Dorn of Underground). Unfortunately, the latter two prove up to no good as Boy shows them a piece of gold and tells the others that Tarzan knows where there is a rich vein of it. After some melodramatic moments, everyone comes afoul of some natives intent on murder. Tarzan's Secret Treasure is a kind of schizoid movie, beginning with the silly if charming antics of Cheeta and her "friend," Buli, the elephant, as well as the childish if cute scamperings of Boy, but it veers off into something much darker in the second half. The scene when a native is torn in half in Tarzan Escapes is repeated -- one way of getting around the censors as well as of saving money -- and when a second native is similarly killed in new footage, we aren't shown the trunks heading in separate directions, possibly another sop to the censors. There are several shots of natives being chewed on by crocodiles, and the sequence wherein Tarzan battles a giant croc underwater is repeated for a second time. There isn't much that is original in the picture, aside from a little native boy named Tumbo (Cordell Hickman) who has lost his mother and becomes friends with Boy in the film's most charming sequence. Jane was to have been killed off at the end of Tarzan Finds a Son! because she was tiring of the series -- we do see her being speared in the back at the end of that film -- but the public outcry necessitated her return. Although O'Sullivan was never a great beauty per se, she has never looked more attractive than she does in this movie. She gives a very good performance, as do the others in the cast, including little Hickman.

Verdict: Still some life left in the series. **1/2.

No comments: