» » Tarzán el temerario (1943)

Short summary

A letter from Jane, who is nursing British troops, asks Tarzan's help in obtaining a malaria serum extractable from jungle plants. Tarzan and Boy set out across the desert looking for the plants and wind up ruining a German's attempt to capture a wild horse. They arrive in an Arab city and rescue a stranded American lady magician, sentenced to be hanged for carrying a secret message to the Sheik. To obtain the plants, Tarzan must fight prehistoric monsters, Nazis, and so on.

The exterior sets appearing here as "Birherari" were later seen as the mythical Middle Eastern kingdom visited by Elvis Presley in 1965's Harum Scarum.

Future Academy Award Best Supporting Actor winner Ben Johnson was Tarzan's stunt double in the horse riding scenes.

When the movie was released in France after the war, the French version occult the Nazi intrigue to focus on ivory smugglers as the bad guys.instead of Germans and Hitler henchmen.

Tarzan fights Nazis for WW2 storyline.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Dog_Uoll
    TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY (RKO Radio, 1943), directed by Wilhelm Thiele, the eighth installment to the long running adventure series starring Johnny Weissmuller as the jungle hero, the second under the RKO Radio banner, and the only time during Weissmuller's 16 years in the titled role to have two releases in the same year. As with TARZAN TRIUMPHS (1943), his mate, Jane, is away (as explained in this segment through the reading of a letter that she away in England helping out in the war effort acting as nurse to the wounded soldiers), leaving her jungle warlord husband to remain behind and look after their young son, Boy (Johnny Sheffield) and their chimpanzee pet, Cheetah. Since this is war time, the screenwriters break away from the traditional intrusion of villainous white hunters or angry natives by having Tarzan matching wits with the Nazis once again. Unlike TARZAN TRIUMPHS, the Nazis take second precedence to what Tarzan is to encounter in his latest caper.

    Before a new adventure begins for both Tarzan and Boy, the story opens with an airplane flying over Tarzan's destination by which the co-pilot is seen throwing down a rock with an attached letter coming down on a miniature parachute. It is an airmail letter from Jane, which is opened and read to Tarzan by Boy. The letter has Jane asking Tarzan to hunt for giant carnivorous plants (plants with malaria serum), which can be found in the jungle on the other side of the desert, and have it sent to her in order to offer this fever medicine to the soldiers. Although it's written for Boy to remain behind, the young lad manages by getting his way with Tarzan, and, along with Cheetah, get to accompany him. While crossing the desert, Tarzan rescues a striped stallion from being whipped by a Karl Strader (Joseph Sawyer), sending the villain away and freeing the horse. The ever grateful animal accompanies Tarzan and Boy on their expedition. Later, Tarzan comes to the aid of Connie Bryce (Nancy Kelly), a lady magician, stranded in an Arab city following a North African USO tour. Because of her attempt to prevent the Sheik (Lloyd Corrigan) from an assassination attempt, Paul Heinrich, alias Hendrix, a Nazi leader (Otto Kruger), arranges for her to be accused of killing Prince Salam (Robert Lowery), and sentenced to die by hanging. Tarzan, imprisoned on the charges of stealing the stallion, breaks jail to save Connie. Afterwards, the trio face dangers in the jungle consisting of prehistoric creatures where Tarzan's to locate the carnivorous plants for Jane. Suspense builds when the Nazis are not far behind, forcing Connie and Boy to seek refuge in a cave. While roaming about, Boy finds himself trapped like a fly as while standing helplessly with his back glued against a gigantic spider web and arms stuck in an outstretched position, attracting the attention of the huge spider, slowly approaching towards his latest prey. Connie tries helping Boy out of this trap, but to no avail. As for Tarzan somewhere in the jungle, he has troubles of his own while entrapped inside a man-eating plant with no way of escaping.

    TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY, which plays like a Saturday matinée chaptered serial, containing villains, prehistoric creatures, rioting Arabs, a giant spider, and enough suspense in this slightly tight 70 minutes to certainly not disappoint any juvenile crowd. Edgar Rice Burrough's jungle hero continues to play the center of attention, and while this film actually appears better than it should have been, considering the modest budget, absence of the Jane character and contrived yarn, the scriptwriters have placed Tarzan into bizarre situations left to their own imagination. Obviously filmed in an indoor set, it would be questionable to find Tarzan and Boy walking through the hot desert or being exposed in the great outdoors without any signs of sunburn or tan on themselves.

    The supporting players consists of Frank Puglia (The Arab Dignitary); George J. Lewis (Hassan); and Nestor Paiva (The Prison Guard). Nancy Kelly, substituting for the Jane character, as once played in the MGM productions by Maureen O'Sullivan, makes an acceptable heroine; and Otto Kruger performs his task well as the nasty Nazi villain. The gigantic spider web scene, possibly the most talked about and memorable sequence in the entire movie, is not for the squeamish, especially when a villain gets caught onto the web and becomes a hardy meal for the spider. Naturally played for thrill or shock value at the time, today, this scene looks very artificial. While Tarzan finds himself encountering with prehistoric creatures (reminiscent to RKO's 1933 classic KING KONG) and man-eating plants instead of the usual hostile natives and wrestling crocodiles, this does stand apart from the previous efforts, thus, making it more acceptable as part of the horror genre.

    After many years as being aired on commercial television either on the late night hours or mid afternoon weekend showings, TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY finally reached its new destination of cable television on American Movie Classics where it found a new audience (1997-2000) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: May 21, 2011). TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY and the remaining five Weissmuller/Tarzan adventures from RKO Radio, have never been distributed to video cassette, but did make it to DVD around 2009. Next swing vine adventure: TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS (1945). (**1/2)
  • comment
    • Author: Elildelm
    Following the HUGE success of TARZAN TRIUMPHS, RKO released TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY, which again offered Nazi villains (Otto Kruger, who'd played a similar role in Hitchcock's SABOTEUR, a year earlier, and veteran screen baddie Joe Sawyer), an American girl magician (vivacious Nancy Kelly, who sings a mean "Boola Boola"), and a chance to combine Nazi duplicity with an 'Arabian'-themed adventure (which was popular escapism during the war years). Even a fantasy element was tossed in, as giant lizards and a mechanical spider 'passing' as 'prehistoric' appear in a 'lost jungle' climax.

    The plot is simple; Jane (at this point serving as a military nurse in London), sends Tarzan a letter, asking him to send his jungle fever remedy. The ingredients are in a 'lost' jungle, across a vast desert, leading Tarzan, Boy, and Cheeta into the adventure...

    Dated, certainly, but a very enjoyable RKO Tarzan entry!
  • comment
    • Author: Sharpbringer
    This is probably my favourite Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie.

    In this one, Tarzan and Boy (Johnny Sheffield) set out across the desert to get a medicine from a particular plant to send to Jane who is in Britain helping the war effort. She needs it to help wounded soldiers to fully recover. On the way, they bump into Nancy Kelly who plays a magician.

    After escaping the Arab city, they reach the jungle where they discover time has stood still. The dangers they encounter trying to get the medicine are stock footage prehistoric monsters from One Million BC, giant man-eating plants, lions and, best of all, a giant spider whose web Boy gets trapped in. He escapes and the spider eats one of the baddies.

    All the stars in this movie take good parts, especially the two Johnnies and Nancy Kelly, who makes a good substitute for Jane.

    I enjoyed watching this movie and have seen several times. Watch it if you get the chance.

    Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
  • comment
    • Author: Arthunter
    Pretty good second RKO Tarzan feature has the jungle man and his son Boy still going it alone in the absence of Jane, who remains in London nursing the wounded soldiers of WWII. Her most recent letter asks that Tarzan bring some jungle fever medicine to her, so he, Boy, and Cheeta travel across the desert to honor her request. Along the way, father and son meet a tough traveling lady magician named Connie (Nancy Kelly) who winds up tagging along with them and becomes the latest substitute for the missing Jane character. Though unlikable at first, she gradually settles in as a more amiable companion. Soon, the travelers become stranded in an Arab city where Tarzan gets jailed for stealing a stallion, and Connie becomes framed for murdering the son of a Shiek and is sentenced to death by hanging. In this film are more old familiar actors like Lloyd Corrigan (as the Sheik), Robert Lowery (the Prince), and Otto Kruger as another Nazi leader named Heinrich who is hiding out under the name of Hendrix. This entry also features giant jungle creatures, including a huge spider who snares Boy in its web, and man-eating plants. We're also treated to more of Cheeta's zany antics as well. **1/2 out of ****
  • comment
    • Author: Goldendragon
    When I was growing up and Tarzan pictures were shown regularly on a local television station every saturday morning, this is the one I and my friends would wait for: the one with the giant spider. It's not the best of the series otherwise, but has an interesting locale (North rather than sub-Saharan Africa), and a non-Jane leading lady for the big guy (Nancy Kelly). I can't recall whether Tarzan and Miss Kelly get together romantically, but she was a most attractive woman and a nice change of pace for the series, which was beginning to run out of gimmicks. Otto Kruger makes a pretty good, refined villain; his small, slight stature contrasts interestingly with Weisssmuller's. But it's the spider most people remember best from this film, and it's big, furry one with a sticky web and eight disturbingly agile legs. I've never cared much for arachnids, and don't know anyone who does, and so just watching the movie was both a trial and a thrill, as I could only hope I would behave with such bravery and resourcefulness as the swinging hero of the film were I caught up in a similar circumstance.
  • comment
    • Author: Tujar
    Edger Rice Burrough's Tarzan was never meant to be muscular although as portrayed by Elmo Lincoln, Frank Merrill and Gordon Scott's Tarzan was indeed very much so. Young Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan was lithe, strong and athletic with a beautiful manly body. In Tarzan and the Desert Mystery, Johnny Weissmuller looked big , strong and the way he lifted the Arabs --accompanying the American girl magician Nancy Kelly who was providing a free performance in the middle of a desert-- and threw them by mistake despite protests from Kelly was very impressive and entertaining. The second scene that was equally entertaining was the scene in which Tarzan was attacked after being falsely accused of stealing the stallion. Here we find Tarzan throwing the opponents about like little toys and fighting like a majestic lion. I think only Weissmuller could give such a splendid performance. He looked every inch a Tarzan and I should think he was much better built than perhaps Lincoln and Scott. Scott had weight lifter's build and became an extremely believable Tarzan in later films and Lincoln so long as he was in the jungle proved to be a very popular Tarzan with the moviegoers. Nancy Kelly's performance was very humorous and at times very very perceptive. Johnny Sheffield's performance as boy was as to expected , excellent. Cheeta was a great fun to watch and interestingly besides the usual quota of animal extras viz lions, elephants, wild horses, monkeys a number of mysterious prehistoric creatures were included and also a gigantic spider. The stallion that Tarzan rode added an extra element of interest and a novel feature and instead of stampeding wild elephants we have horses stampeding in this movie. The story is quite what one could expect if one is familiar with Newspaper Tarzan Comic Strips as drawn by Hogarth, Manning, Celardo and Foster. These news paper comic strips gave Tarzan a personality and ultimately made it popular enough to be made into movies. The story is a good change but what one could expect for a good Tarzan yarn. Another feature one notices in this film is instead of the " repetitious" vine swinging one finds in in some of excellent MGM films the vine swinging is a refreshing change in this RKO film. I enjoyed it very much and it is an excellent fare for the whole family. I have seen it several times.
  • comment
    • Author: unmasked
    Tarzan's adventures at RKO continue in his second film there (eighth overall for Johnny Weissmuller). Having not been recast yet, Jane is once again absent. She's in England helping with the war effort. Yes, this is another WW2 Tarzan film, although much less controversial than the last one. This time, instead of slaughtering invading murderous Nazis who deserved every bit of what they got, Tarzan is sent by Jane on a mission to find plants needed to make a malaria serum. He takes Boy and Cheeta along and they journey across the Sahara desert, where they are joined by a spunky American magician (Nancy Kelly). They also encounter Nazi spies, man-eating plants, stock footage prehistoric lizards, and a deadly giant spider.

    This one's a little different from previous entries in the series. It seems full-on aimed at kids with more fantastic elements and comic relief. But it's all good and the change in setting is nice. A solid cast for this one backing up Weissmuller and Johnny Sheffield -- Otto Kruger, Robert Lowery, Lloyd Corrigan, and Joe Sawyer. Pretty Nancy Kelly seems to be channeling Barbara Stanwyck at times. She's a lot of fun and even gets to sing "Boola Boola." Another enjoyable entry in the series, which lost something in production values when it left MGM but kept the adventure and charm of the earlier films. As was often the case, Cheeta steals the show.
  • comment
    • Author: Gaua
    Jane is still in London when she sends word to Tarzan to make up some of the medicine for jungle fever.Heading out with Boy across the desert they run into some no good guys trying to capture a horse. Shooing them off they make the acquaintance of a female magician on a mission for a sheik. They all end up in a city where the no good guys are holding sway over the local ruler. Tarzan and the magician all end up in trouble and it isn't long before there is a chase into the desert which ends in a jungle where giant monsters lurk.

    Good action adventure sometimes gets a bit side tracked, however when its on point it's solid entertainment, even the giant monsters which come off as pure hokey fun. Highly recommended
  • comment
    • Author: Hanelynai
    The world is still at war.Jane, who is nursing British troops, sends a letter where she asks Tarzan to send malaria serum extractable from jungle plants.Tarzan travels across the desert with Boy and Cheeta as his companions.They see some Germans trying to capture a wild horse.The horse is so grateful at his saviors he doesn't want to leave them.So the horse, they call Jaynar, comes along.And so does an American lady magician called Connie Bryce.They're all heading for Birherari.Connie is delivering a message, hidden into her bracelet, to the sheik's palace.There is also Paul Hendrix, a Nazi.The sheik's son is killed by the Germans after Connie has delivered the message there.But the message can't be found from him, since Cheeta has taken it.Now Connie is accused of murdering Prince Selim.And Tarzan is in prison for stealing sheik's stallion.Tarzan's Desert Mystery is from 1943 and it's directed by Wilhelm Thiele.Former swimmer Johnny Weissmuller proves once again that he was born to play this role.Johnny Sheffield and Cheeta the chimpanzee make a great team also in this movie. Nancy Kelly is amazing as Connie.She's real pretty, and can also be very funny.Otto Kruger makes a great villain as Hendrix.And so does Joe Sawyer as Karl Straeder.Lloyd Corrigan is terrific as Sheik Abdul El Khim.As is Robert Lowery as Prince Selim.This Tarzan movie is quite funny from time to time.We see Cheeta walking and doing tricks on a high wire.Or stealing turbans from men so that Tarzan can build a robe in order to escape from prison.And the first time Tarzan and Connie meet is quite funny.He "rescues" her from sawing in half.And then there are the thrilling moments.One of them is when Tarzan has to safe the woman from the hanging and he calls the horses to help him.Those who suffer from arachnophobia might be freaked out by the scene where Boy gets caught in a spider web.And that spider is HUGE.And there are some prehistoric creatures involved.Most enjoyable Tarzan adventure.
  • comment
    • Author: Usanner
    Tarzan receives a letter from Jane who is nursing British soldiers back in England during the war, which asks Tarzan to travel to a jungle out in the Sahara desert to collect a special type of malaria serum from a plant. On there journey there Tarzan and Boy, come across a wild horse they rescue from a German and some Arabs and they also bump into a lady magician who gets stranded in the desert. When they take the lady to her destination - an Arabian city> Tarzan is arrested for supposedly stealing the horse because of some shifty Nazis. But he manages to escape and head off to the jungle to collect the very important serum, but the jungle offers up some surprises.

    Oh, I recall vividly when I was a kid I use to sit in front of the TV on weekends watching the black and white Tarzan movies. Well, that's when I wasn't watching a western or some anime. So, seeing that an entry of the Tarzan series was on one late night, I thought that bit of nostalgia wouldn't go astray. And what a delight it was.

    I wouldn't class it is one of the best, but in all it was a strange mix that throws in the unexpected. The story is quite a mystery, because there's so much going on with one incident after another occurring. What Tarzan faces on this erratic adventure includes Arabs, Nazis, gigantic prehistoric beasts, dangerous plants and a giant spider. Limbo, thinks Tarzan has he work cut out for him! While, it might have those interesting facets it does take a while to get going with it being rather talkative and Tarzan gets less screen time. This is when Boy played by Johnny Sheffield chirps in and Cheetah the chimpanzee makes for the usual comic relief. But its Nancy Kelly who dominates the film as the stubborn Connie the American Magician. There seems to be more of a comedy of capers thanks too Nancy Kelly's character who comes up with some humorous quotes and like others have already mentioned; she makes a good substitute for Jane. The film takes place mostly in a desolate backdrop (of course studio sets), but when it hits its dense jungle setting in the last half hour that's when it becomes lively with it's out-of-this-world development with everything in the jungle mostly being big. Johnny Weissmuller is more than capable as our hero Tarzan and Otto Kruger gives a perfect performance as the sneaky Nazi Heinrich. The action and comedy are worked in reasonably well by director Wilhelm Thiele; who incorporates a touch of suspense. The story is rigid and been done before, but the new surroundings and the uncanny nature of some sudden turns and changes makes it more memorable and gives it an edge.

    It's not a groundbreaking entry to the series, but still its a fun adventure for all.
  • comment
    • Author: lubov
    Tarzan and Boy meet a magician entertaining troops in North Africa, Nancy Kelly, on her way to warn a sheik about evil Nazi plans to steal horses. Tarzan and Boy are wrongfully put in jail for stealing the horses, but break out to stop the evil Nazi plan. It's the usual Tarzan nonsense you'd expect, but it's all quite enjoyable, which includes giant lizards, killer spiders, and a man-eating plant. Top that all off with Hollywood WWII propaganda and this is something of a bizarre must-see film for it's era. Otto Kruger also appears in the film (as a Nazi, of course).
  • comment
    • Author: Anararius
    I agree with the other reviewers that this is not one of the better Tarzan movies. But about three quarters of the way through, I began to ask myself "where have I seen this before?" Then it struck me. This movie introduces three creatures that later appeared in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." TDM first presents a wild-spirited horse that cannot be tamed but will allow a person to ride it if asked. And Tarzan can summon this wild horse by whistling. Sounds a lot like Shadowfax. Then we have a dangerous multi-tentacled creature at the entrance to the jungle which later entraps Tarzan. This seems quite similar to the Watcher in the Water by the gates of Moria. Finally there is the huge cave-dwelling spider. As soon as I saw Boy caught in the spider's web, I remembered the image of Frodo caught by Shelob. Now, one coincidence I can dismiss. But three imaginary creatures in one movie that later appear in a different book? TDM came out in 1943, and according to Wiki Tolkien resumed writing LOTR in 1944. Coincidence? Watch TDM and decide.
  • comment
    • Author: Bludworm
    No, I didn't misspell Tarzan's Jane, who isn't in this film, except in an indirect way. Actually, Jayne is a stallion(not a mare), perhaps so named in memory of Jane? Supposedly, Jayne is wild, but he didn't act so in Tarzan's presence, allowing Boy to ride him to the next oasis, and playing a significant role in the future adventures of Tarzan's group, while they are crossing the desert, to the 'lost' jungle, where they hope to find a plant with anti-'fever'(probably malaria) activity. They hope to send some to Jane, in a London hospital, to treat soldiers suffering from malaria.(As a historical note, at the release time of this movie, the Japanese controlled Java, where nearly all the world's commercial supply of quinine was produced. Also, the Germans controlled The Netherlands, where the crude quinine was purified and packaged for use. Thus, the Allies were desperate for some other source of antimalarial. Just how Tarzan was expected to recognize this rare plant is not explained........Nancy Kelly, as Connie Bryce, more or less takes the place of Jane, after she is encountered at an oasis.( Just what she was doing, as a side show magician, in the middle of the Sahara desert is never explained!). When Tarzan gets to the oasis, he mistakenly thinks her Arab companions are trying to saw her in half. He chases them and her camels away, to the displeasure of Connie. Before Tarzan arrived, she had arranged with Sheik Amir to carry a secret message to Prince Selim, son of Sheik Abdul El Khim. The message is hidden in a bracelet that Connie wears. Prince Selim later discovers that it tells of a plot by 2 German agents: Karl Straeder, and Paul Hendrix, to stir up some tribesmen into a rebellion. The Germans want to prevent Prince Selim from receiving or acting upon the message(How do they know there is such a message and what it says??) They shoot Selim, and blame it on Connie, who had recently been with Selim. She is quickly sentenced to hang. Tarzan can't rescue her, because he's in jail for supposedly stealing Jayne, who was supposed to be a gift from the Germans to the Sheik. So, it's up to Boy and Cheetah to figure out how to get the adults out of their predicaments, which they do. After thrilling escapes, the 4 ride off toward the lost jungle on Jayne and another horse, with Hendrix and Arabs chasing them. They manage to keep ahead, heading into the jungle, where they encounter giant lizards, crocodiles, and a giant carnivorous plant, whose shoots spring from the ground, waving like so many vertical snakes. When Tarzan comes along all these 'snakes' come together to form a cage, which incapacitates Tarzan for awhile. But , the most fearsome beast in this prehistoric jungle is a monstrous mechanical spider, looking to be about the size of a rhino. Enough to give any arachnophobe a heart attack! Boy gets caught in its giant web for a while. Hendrix tracts them to this cave, and is about to shoot Connie when Tarzan swings down and knocks Hendrix into another web, right in front of the spider. Bye Bye, Hendrix! Somehow, all Tarzan's group get out of the way of the spider, and find some of the appropriate plants for Connie to somehow transport back to Jane.......Of course, Cheetah, the Chimp, is a continual clown, and occasionally helps get the others out of a mess. He even does a tightrope act for the Arabs to distract their attention. .......The screenplay is pretty silly, with many aspects not making much sense. Nonetheless, it's a pretty interesting story for some viewers, with the bonus of Cheetah.
  • comment
    • Author: Went Tyu
    When Johnny Weissmuller made the Tarzan films for MGM, they were amazingly good for what they were. They had decent stories and production values and were quite enjoyable. However, in the 1940s the series moved to RKO--a much lower-budget and lower-status studio. Weissmuller made this move, but poor old Maureen O'Sullivan was still under contract with MGM and was forced to remain behind and make GOOD movies (poor Maureen!). To explain her absence, the films made lots of lame excuses until several films later when they re-cast the Jane role--in the meantime, she was said to either be visiting family or helping out in the war effort! To put it quite bluntly, when "Tarzan Triumphs" (the previous film for RKO) debuted, it was obvious the series had peaked and was in a fast decline. After all, this previous film had the man of the jungle fighting Nazis!!! Here in "Tarzan's Desert Mystery", Tarzan helps a condemned lady prove her innocence and prevent the usurpation of the throne in a desert nation. I think the "Desert Mystery" from the title was actually referring to why Tarzan was in the desert in the first place AND why the film switched abruptly from jungle to desert scenes again and again (like an Ed Wood production). Overall, the film makes no sense and truly looks like a bad B-movie where, at the last minute, they just inserted Tarzan as a supporting character! And, they didn't really bother re-writing the film to explain any of this! Too bad, as the film did have Otto Kruger--a decent actor who should have been above making this sort of mess. Truly an awful Tarzan film--mostly because it never makes any sense.
  • comment
    • Author: Shan
    Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943)

    ** (out of 4)

    Jane, who once again sends Tarzan a letter saying she isn't coming home, also asks her boyfriend to get a secret formula that can cure troops fighting in the war. Tarzan, Boy and Cheetah set out to do this but end up fighting Arabs. I found it incredibly difficult to stay awake while watching this film and it took several viewings to be able to do so. I thought the first forty-minutes of this thing were deadly dull and lacked any nice comedy or action. The female lead also wasn't very interesting, which hurt matters. The film eventually picks up at the end when Tarzan must enter a mysterious jungle full of living vines, prehistoric creatures and a huge spider. If only the entire film had taken place here. This is the first Tarzan I've actually been disappointed in to the point where I probably won't watch it again.
  • comment
    • Author: Keath
    A letter from his still absent mate "Jane" requests hefty jungle king Johnny Weissmuller (as Tarzan) go on a mission through Arabian desert sand to deliver some "fever medicine" needed by Allied troops. Adopted son Johnny Sheffield (as Boy) and pet chimp "Cheeta" tag along. Along the way, the trio team-up with adventurous Nancy Kelly (as Connie Bryce), a lady magician who loses her entourage. Arab-tinged Nazis and giant dinosaur-type animals cause trouble for the quartet. Watch out for the spider. It's all very silly, but with some nicely edited and photographed scenes.

    ***** Tarzan's Desert Mystery (12/26/43) Wilhelm Thiele ~ Johnny Weissmuller, Johnny Sheffield, Nancy Kelly, Otto Kruger
  • comment
    • Author: Wenaiand
    In this first Tarzan film made at RKO, Johnny Weissmuller gets an assignment from Jane to get some plant vines whereby medicine can be extracted. It's for her nursing work in London with the troops. The only place to get it is across a desert near a city called Bin Harreri. So Weissmuller, Johnny Sheffield as Boy and the ever present,annoying, but resourceful Cheetah set out on Tarzan's Desert Mystery.

    The film should have been called Tarzan's Desert Intrigue because while there's no mystery involved there's a lot of intrigue. Along the way Tarzan and his gang pick up stranded vaudeville entertainer Nancy Kelly who's got a mission of her own from a sheik, a secret message to deliver to the sheik in Bin Harreri, Lloyd Corrigan. Pretty soon everybody's involved in the Bin Harreri political situation.

    Which includes a couple of white outsiders played by Otto Kruger and Joe Sawyer. They're agents for the Nazis and plan to stir up trouble that the Reich can take advantage of. When Kelly is framed for the murder of Robert Lowery, Corrigan's son, everybody flees with the sheik and the Nazis after them.

    Of course both missions are accomplished. The change from the Tiffany Studio MGM to RKO which was the lowest rank of the A studios is quite apparent in production values. Also I'm not quite sure why all those prehistoric monster footage from One Million BC was included except that it did provide a dandy end for one of the villains.

    Tarzan's Desert Mystery is nice entertainment for the Saturday afternoon crowd back in the day. It's kind of dated for today's taste though.
  • comment
    • Author: LONUDOG
    Jane, who is away nursing troops in war-torn Europe, sends a letter to Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) requesting some of his amazing healing jungle juice, which she believes will help cure soldiers who have contracted tropical diseases.

    In order to obtain the plants necessary for the marvellous medicine, Tarzan, Boy (Johnny Sheffield) and Cheetah must travel beyond the desert town of Birherari to a perilous patch of jungle full of bizarre and deadly creatures. During their journey, the threesome team up with fast talking and feisty magician Connie Bryce (Nancy Kelly) who is on a covert mission to deliver a message to Prince Saleem of Birherari, warning him that his father's business associate Paul Hendrix (Otto Kruger) has been secretly plotting to take over the country by force.

    A change of scenery injected a little life back into the Tarzan series when the ape-man went to New York, but here the new locale doesn't work so well: seemingly influenced by his arid and barren surroundings, Wilhelm Thiele's direction for his desert based action—which takes up the majority of the running time—is pretty dry and lifeless, and the film only flourishes when the movie finally moves to the lush jungle setting. Here, we are treated some of the most enjoyably daft moments of the series so far, with the brave ape man and his pals confronting prehistoric creatures (real lizards with 'sails' glued to their backs), a man eating plant, and a massive, thoroughly unconvincing spider that traps Boy in its over-sized web (made from rope); it's just a shame that the good stuff is so brief, and that it's such an arduous trek to get there.

    I rate Tarzan's Desert Mystery a rather disappointing 5 out of 10 (the hilarious shonky spider almost earned the film another point, but Connie's continuous use of irritating '40s slang stopped me from being so generous).
  • comment
    • Author: Makaitist
    Tarzan this time has to deal with scheming foreign nazis who are plotting against a local Sheik to takeover his land. They manage to have Tarzan put in jail and try to get his lady friend (as in only a friend) hanged. Finally Tarzan ends up in a mysterious jungle with some rather familiar slurpasaurs as well as giant venus flytraps and a giant spider. This Tarzan mixes in lost world elements which really don't work as well as the earlier Tarzan adventure. Also one really misses the lack of Jane's presence on screen. Sometimes enjoyable, sometimes not so much so.
  • comment
    • Author: Flathan
    Tarzan and Boy help fight an evil Nazi who is trying to take over a desert kingdom. Despite a giant spider at the end and few action scenes this is the weakest of the Weissmuller Tarzan movies. The problem is too much desert mystery and too little Tarzan. Tarzan spends a good portion of this film locked up in jail and off screen too much of the time.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Johnny Weissmuller Johnny Weissmuller - Tarzan
    Nancy Kelly Nancy Kelly - Connie Bryce
    Johnny Sheffield Johnny Sheffield - Boy
    Otto Kruger Otto Kruger - Paul Hendrix
    Joe Sawyer Joe Sawyer - Karl Straeder
    Lloyd Corrigan Lloyd Corrigan - Sheik Abdul El Khim
    Robert Lowery Robert Lowery - Prince Selim
    Frank Puglia Frank Puglia - Magistrate
    Philip Van Zandt Philip Van Zandt - Undetermined Secondary Role (scenes deleted) (as Phil Van Zandt)
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