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

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Gustavo Rojo as Tico
TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS (1948). Director: Robert Florey.

Mara (Linda Christian) belongs to the race of Aquaticons, and is in love with Tico (Gustavo Rojo). Unfortunately, the high priest (George Zucco), who supposedly is the good right hand of their god Balu, has decreed that Mara must marry this masked, forbidding Balu. Mara quite sensibly dives into the ocean, and eventually makes her way to the territory where Jane (Brenda Joyce) and Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) make their home. When some of the Aquaticons forcibly carry Mara off in their canoe, Tarzan goes after her, getting involved with the island race and rescuing Mara. Tarzan and the Mermaids is the final Tarzan film to star Weissmuller -- he then moved over to the Jungle Jim series -- but he goes out on a high note. One could easily argue that the flick doesn't have the greatest plot, and that the danger and action seem reserved for the last ten minutes, but the movie is well-directed, well-paced, beautifully photographed by Jack Draper, and also boasts a flavorful score by Dimitri Tiomkin. Highlights include Tarzan's fight with a very big octopus, and a charming scene when the natives have a jousting contest with poles and boats. Linda Christian [Athena], who married Tyrone Power the following year, was "introduced" in this film, although she had had small roles in previous films. Uruguay actor Gustavo Rojo, who is still alive and still working on television in his nineties (!), later appeared in It Started with a Kiss and The Valley of Gwangi. John Laurenz plays the amiable, singing Benji, who brings mail to Tarzan and Jane from Boy, who is attending school in England. George Zucco hasn't nearly enough to do but he does it well. Director Florey invests the film with more style than the usual Tarzan feature, and it has excellent production values as well.

Verdict: A fitting farewell to Weissmuller's Ape Man. ***.


angelman66 said...

Gustavo, wowza! What a cutie, reminds me of a young Benjamin Bratt.
Weissmuller had a long run as Tarzan and was the best of many brawny hunks who essayed the role over the years.

William said...

Weissmuller will always be the actor most associated with the role.

Rojo got even handsomer as he got older!