» » Tarzan in Gefahr (1948)

Short summary

Boy is away at school in England. The high priest is trying to force a young girl to marry an evil pearl trader posing as the god Balu. She escapes, is recaptured and is finally rescued by Tarzan and Jane who reunite her with her chosen fiance.

Johnny Weissmuller's stunt double Ángel García allegedly was killed while performing the famous cliff dive into the ocean at Acapulco, Mexico. Local authorities rejected this claim as Hollywood publicity. Another source said Garcia survived the fall but died when the surf slammed him into the rocks. John Laurenz, who played the singing postman Benji, never made mention of any such incident in his popular radio program or in his article on the filming of this movie. No newspaper articles (Mexico, Hollywood or otherwise) from that time have any mention of this alleged tragedy..

Cheetah, the chimpanzee who plays Tarzan's simian sidekick in this and many another Tarzan movie, lived to the ripe old age of 79 (the same age as Johnny Weissmuller was when he died). In addition to his recurring role in Tarzan pictures, Cheetah also "moonlighted" as Kimbbo the Chimp in several of Monogram's Bomba films.

Final appearance of Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan.

George Zucco, seen here as a "high priest," made a career of such roles, playing similar characters in three of Universal's Mummy sequels (The Mummy's Hand, The Mummy's Tomb and The Mummy's Ghost) as well as appearing in such other monster-themed programmers as The House of Frankenstein, The Mad Monster and Voodoo Man.

The prominent billing of Linda Christian on this film's poster, despite her having a minor role, is attributable to the fact that when Tarzan and the Mermaids was released, Christian was the fiancé of one of 20th Century-Fox's biggest stars, Tyrone Power. The two were married in 1949, and had two children together.

The same year this film was released, Johnny Weissmuller made his initial appearance as his other best-known character, Jungle Jim. Although he is now remembered more for portraying Tarzan, Weissmuller starred as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Ape Man in just 11 films, but played Jungle Jim in 13 feature films and a 1950s TV series.

The absence of the Johnny Sheffield character "Boy" from this film is explained with the the claim that Boy is "away at school." In truth, Sheffield's RKO contract had not been renewed, and the actor then signed a deal with "Poverty Row" studio Monogram Pictures to make a series of movies as "Bomba," a character clearly intended to evoke memories of Sheffield's many appearances in Tarzan films.

Although the film's opening credits (and poster) read "Introducing Linda Christian," she had actually appeared in five films prior to Tarzan and the Mermaids. In all of them, Christian had played minor parts, but did have on-screen billing in at least one of them.

The same Mexican cliff-diving location seen here was later used in the Elvis Presley vehicle Fun in Acapulco.

Filmed in Acapulco, it features the famous La Quebrada Cliff Divers. Tarzan dives off the highest cliff.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Ironfire
    TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS (RKO Radio, 1948), directed by Robert Florey, stars Johnny Weissmuller in what became his 12th and final performance as the Lord of the Jungle, and sixth under Sol Lesser's production for RKO. While this long running adventure series could have ended here, the Edgar Rice Burroughs character, having been on the screen since the silent movie days beginning with Elmo Lincoln in 1918, would go on vine swinging across the theater screen for another two decades with numerous and younger actors assuming the part, with Weissmuller, on record as being the one most associated with the role, not because he was the best (or was he?), but appearing in more "Tarzan" adventures and longer than any other actor.

    As for the story starting with a narration followed by ten minute character introductions, Mara (Linda Christian), a beautiful maiden from the forbidden island, is forced by the High Priest (George Zucco) to become an unwilling bride of a feared island "God" Varga (Fernando Wagner), a villainous pearl trader, although she actually loves the exiled Tiko (Gustavo Bojo). Mara escapes Aquantinia and swims to the location of Tarzan (Johnny Weissmiller) and Jane (Brenda Joyce) who agree to assist her. After Mara is found, she is abducted and taken back to her island. Tarzan and Jane follow, are held prisoners. Following their escape, Tarzan intends to unmask the false god and expose the white men after their priceless pearls before Mara's wedding is to take place. Also featured in the cast are Edward Ashley (Balu)and Andrea Palmer (Luana).

    In spite the fact that TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS, might have made Weissmuller's farewell performance into something special, its ordinary 68 minute storyline, which appears to have been revamped many times over the years, especially from the Maria Montez and Jon Hall South Seas adventures produced over at Universal through most of the 1940s, weakness dominates few of its strengths. Obvious changes were also being made at this time. Missing from the cast of regulars is Johnny Sheffield as Boy, who had outgrown his part. He is mentioned by Jane, as she writes a letter to him, to be attending school in England (a truant officer must have come for him after all these years in the jungle), leaving Tarzan and Jane with Cheetah to fill in the void. Along with the good and the not so good, this marks the first in the series since the early MGM days to be lensed on location rather than a closed set. Opening titles credit this with location scenes filmed in Acapulco and the studios at Churubusco and Mexico City, which is all well and good, but one would wonder why color photography wasn't an added factor to the expense of location scenes. Interestingly, the use of the footage lacks the substance of any indication of this being in Tarzan's native homeland of Africa. As for the featured players, George Zucco as the villainous high priest, is the only asset. One only wishes he had more scenes matching wits with Tarzan adding more interest to the story.

    While the weakest in the series, TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS shouldn't be classified as the worst. Lacking more action than usual, one of its main faults is not so much as adding new characters to the story, but the extensive use of a singing mailman, played by John Lorenz as Benji (no, not in the form of the famous dog). Not truly categorized as a musical, it consists of numerous songs to make it so, including such forgettable tunes as, "I'm Taking a Letter to My Friend, Tarzan," "Oh, Most Beautiful Mermaid," "Fairwell, Fair Mermaid," "Let Us Hasten to Adventure" and "I'll Serenade You With My Guitar." A pity Tarzan doesn't get his chance to serenade Jane in a canoe surrounded by swimming native girls, which might have worked as a very silly highlight, but for what it is, TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS is so offbeat from its predecessors, lacking the standard use of animal stampedes, dangers setting place underwater (though there's a memorable cliff diving scene and added attraction of Tarzan fighting an octopus), the traditional Tarzan ape call, along with additional footage centered upon other actors bearing little or no interest to the viewer, of course with the exception of the characteristic Zucco.

    Having played on commercial television since the 1960s as part of its "Tarzan" lineup, with the RKO Radio series never placed on video but onto DVD, TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS was, along with the other "Tarzan" adventures, presented on American Movie Classics cable channel (1998-2000) before moving to Turner Classic Movies(TCM premiere: June 25, 2011). As specified, TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS marked the end of an era for Weissmuller, who no longer was physically fit to appear in any more installments.

    Considering his type-casting, he didn't end up collecting his unemployment check. Almost immediately, he found renewed success assuming the part as another jungle hero (fully clothed) in a brand new film series as JUNGLE JIM (1948 to 1955) for Columbia Pictures. Brenda Joyce would play Jane one more time for the next installment, TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949), introducing Lex Barker as the new (and younger) jungle man. (**1/2)
  • comment
    • Author: Xal
    Johnny Weissmuller's final film as 'King of the Jungle', after 16 years in the role, TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS, is bound to disappoint all but the most ardent of his fans. At 44, the ex-Olympian, one of Hollywood's most active 'party animals', was long past the slim athleticism of his youth, and looked tired (although he was in marginally better condition than in his previous entry, TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS).

    Not only had Weissmuller gotten too old for his role; Johnny Sheffield, the quintessential 'Boy', had grown to manhood (he was a strapping 17-year old), so he was written out of the script, under the pretext of being 'away at school'. Brenda Joyce, at 35, was appearing in her fourth of five films as 'Jane' (she would provide the transition when Lex Barker became the new Tarzan, in 1949's TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN) and was still as wholesomely sexy as ever.

    Produced by Sol Lesser, at RKO, on a minuscule budget, the cast and crew took advantage of cheaper labor by filming in Mexico. While the location gave a decidedly Hispanic air to what was supposedly darkest Africa, veteran director Robert Florey utilized the country extensively, incorporating cliff diving and an Aztec temple into the story.

    When a young island girl (Tyrone Power's future bride, Linda Christian) is rescued in a jungle river by Tarzan, he learns that a local high priest (George Zucco, one of filmdom's most enduring villains) had virtually enslaved the local population, threatening retribution from a living 'God' if they don't do his bidding. The girl had been chosen to become the 'God's' bride, so she fled. Faster than you can say 'Is this a dumb plot or WHAT?', the girl is kidnapped by the priest's henchmen and returned to the island, and Tarzan, followed by Jane, colorful Spanish character 'Benjy' (charmingly played by John Laurenz, who sings several tunes), and a government commissioner are off to take on the Deity and his priest (poor Cheeta is left behind). After a series of discoveries (the 'God' is simply a con man in an Aztec mask, working with the priest in milking the island's rich pearl beds), a bit of brawling action, and comic relief and songs by Benjy, everything reaches the expected happy conclusion.

    Remarkably, TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS features a musical score by the brilliant film composer, Dimitri Tiomkin, and is far better than what you'd expect from this 'B' movie!

    While the film would provide a less-than-auspicious end to Weissmuller's time in Tarzan's loincloth (he would immediately go on to play Jungle Jim, a more eloquent variation of the Ape Man, in khakis), the talent involved lifted the overall product at least a little above the total mess it could have been.

    Tarzan was about to get a make over, and become much sexier...
  • comment
    • Author: Mullador
    TARZAN AND THE MERMAID was the low-end of Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan series and the final Tarzan he'd agree to make. Set in Acapulco, Mexico --- "just downstream from their jungle house --- Tarzan will encounter infamous actress Linda Christian in a rare screen role, as the latest virgin to be handed over to the tribe's two-bit "god." I can't overstate the drop in quality. All the great Tarzan films were made by MGM with high production quality, excellent scripts, action shots; the best. The RKO Tarzan films made by Sol Lesser were much cheaper and used less imagination. MERMAIDS was the poorest of the RKO series. Why then do I rate it 8 out of 10. Weissmuller is asset #1. The catchy title is asset #2. The fact is that I saw this movie 5 times. First in 1949, then 1950, then twice on TV; finally via an eBay purchase of a bootleg copy. PS: The real story as to why Weissmuller quit Tarzan was that Columbia Pictures agreed to let him wear clothes in his Jungle Jim series. After 13 years in loincloth, he, like many of us, gained a few pounds.
  • comment
    • Author: Balhala
    The vine swinging here is pretty good and the background music better than even some of the so called better Tarzan films involving higher expense. Within the budget constraints that this film was produced - and I don't believe Weissmuller was paid anywhere like handsomely- this is a Tarzan film with light-hearted humor with some very unexpected but entertaining swimming and diving scenes with a dash of adventure . I particularly find the fight with the octopus refreshingly good and rather picturesque and reminds one of Hogarth's drawings of Tarzan fighting an octopus in once famous comic series. The difficult under-water scenes are done very well particularly the scene in which Tarzan battles his many youthful enemies with great swimming skill and craft: he appears agile, strong and a champion in the water that he was. He does quite a bit of rigorous cliff climbing like a mountain lion looking very fit and lion-like and diving into the water here again he appears strong and agile.The grand finale in which he hurled the impostor "Balu" from a high cliff is quite impressive. When his adversaries invaded his "estate" he defended his house and home like a true jungle lord ,throwing some over his head and punching others away as if the were toys! I appreciate Weissmuller's self confidence in asking for a "raise" for the continuation of the Tarzan contract which was terminated with the lame excuse that he was out of shape. More than a dozen or so Jungle Jim adventure films in which Weismuller now "fully clothed" did a bit of vine swinging ,a lot of swimming,diving and fought lions,leopards and tigers showed that Weissmuller could get back into shape again and was fit and strong enough to carry on for a few more years as the one and only Tarzan if only he was given a fair chance.
  • comment
    • Author: Hudora
    Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan saga ends here.Weissmuller ended his Tarzan career after twelve motion pictures.Here he lives in the jungle with the sweet Jane (Brenda Joyce) and Cheeta.Boy has left to study in England.And a man named Benji (John Laurenz) brings some singing mail from him.Linda Christian plays a young girl who is being forced to marry an evil pearl trader who poses as the God Balu.But she's in love with Tiko (Gustavo Rojo).So she jumps into the ocean and escapes until Tarzan captures her in his net.Robert Florey's Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948) isn't the most critically acclaimed Tarzan movie but it works for me.It's a lot of fun to watch this character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs getting away from sticky situations.In this movie the sea has a big part.It's a real treat to watch the beautiful and sensual Linda Christian swimming and diving like a mermaid.The movie is full of great underwater action.Take Tarzan battling with a giant octopus, for instance.Some sweaty situations take place on shore, as well.Altogether this is a nice way for Johnny Weissmuller to say farewell to the character, the mighty Tarzan.
  • comment
    • Author: Kriau
    Before watching this I'd read that some considered TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS to be "the worst" of the Weissmuller series. That made me nervous but I gave it a try. I'm happy to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. MERMAIDS might be "the worst" of the Weissmuller series but that doesn't make it a bad film at all. Taking Tarzan away from the jungle for an exotic aquatic romp makes this an unusual entry in the series so prepare yourself for a change of pace. I like it! MERMAIDS is well worth adding to one's Tarzan collection if you can find it. I wish they would release all of Johnny's Tarzan movies on DVD.
  • comment
    • Author: Usic
    The filmmakers behind Tarzan and the Mermaids seem to have been more interested in making a travel/beach movie than another traditional Tarzan picture. There just isn't as much action this time around. There's some wonderful swimming in this one though. Tarzan makes a spectacular dive off a very high cliff. Brenda Joyce and Weissmuller are very charming. George Zucco makes a great villain. The "God" that Tarzan must confront can be rather creepy. The film's soundtrack is certainly elaborate. The scenery is very nice. Cheetah delivers some fun gags. There's a giant octopus too! All of these keep things moving along, but it's still pretty mellow for a Weissmuller Tarzan movie. The movie even has several songs in it! I think they should have called this one "Tarzan Takes A Vacation". It's different, but certainly not bad. It's a good "chill out" movie to enjoy with a cold beverage after a stressful day. It works very well that way.
  • comment
    • Author: Fecage
    Fed up with scientists, hunters, leopard women, Amazon warriors and Nazis ruining their peace and quiet, Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) and Jane (Brenda Joyce) have upped sticks and moved to a riverfront property, where they hope to spend their days relaxing, fishing and enjoying a little privacy now that Boy has finally flown the coop (gone to school in England, apparently, although I reckon actor Johnny Sheffield saw the proposed plot for this film and ran a mile!).

    This seemingly idyllic locale still has its drawbacks though: not only do the couple now have a really irritating new neighbour in the form of calypso-singing mail-man Benji (John Laurenz), but only a few short vine swings down the river, trouble is brewing in the taboo coastal realm of Aquatania, where a pair of wicked con artists (George Zucco and Fernando Wagner) are posing as living deity Balu to trick the locals out of a fortune in pearls. After giving refuge to a young Aquatican woman who has escaped from a forced marriage to the false god by swimming upriver, Tarzan decides that if he is ever going to get some well earned rest and relaxation (and judging by Weissmuller's haggard appearance, he really could do with some), he must first sort out the unrest in Aquatania (although personally I would begin by throttling Benji!).

    The twelfth and final outing for Johnny Weismuller as Edgar Rice Burrough's ape-man, Tarzan and the Mermaids is easily the weakest of the whole series, with a star who looks like he's been partying way too hard between shooting (stubble and a paunch is not a great look), a poor script that favours musical numbers, lighthearted aquatic frolics, scenic panoramas over decent action and adventure, and a thoroughly unconvincing Mexican filming location (an Aztec temple, the unmistakable cliffs of Acupulco, and a supporting cast of Hispanic performers don't exactly give off that African vibe). Director Robert Florey's tepid direction does little to help matters, with even an attack by giant octopus proving to be a big disappointment.

    Weissmuller enthusiasts will no doubt want to check out 'Mermaids' for the sake of completion, but be warned, this ain't a great way to end an era.
  • comment
    • Author: Alsath
    Well, after having one of the most prolific careers in any single role, Johnny Weismuller calls it quits as this is his last "Tarzan" movie. I'm not sure if this is meant to be the last "Tarzan" movie in this series. The main flaw with this movie is that it's too short. We don't even get to hear Tarzan's scream! Anyway, this still isn't really bad. I like how they try to put some variance by having Tarzan and Jane go somewhere else. It was still kind of annoying with how there wasn't much action. I'm used to seeing more of that in these movies.

    I haven't seen every single one of the films, but it looks like there are certainly things going on. I was thinking that they'd make it so that the fake god turned out to be real after all. I'm actually glad they didn't. It was also nice to not actually see mermaids in the movie. Instead, we just get people who act like them. Still, that is a pretty misleading title. What is it with these movies and doing that? There were some nice peaceful bits in it that were pleasant enough. It's just that this didn't have anything that memorable. I'm still glad I saw all these movies. **1/2
  • comment
    • Author: Painshade
    I always want to see the aging veteran ballplayer play that one last season. Most of the time, they shouldn't - but I want to see it anyway. Why? Because I love those guys and want to prolong the experience of seeing them perform as long as possible.

    Alas, Tarzan & The Mermaids is your classic example of taking a film series one film too long. The should have stopped with the fine Tarzan & The Huntress. But hey, what can you do?

    Filmed down in Mexico on a buck-and-a-half, Tarzan & The Mermaids is a total cheapo with long interludes of silence, as though it were indeed shot as a silent film.

    The film is dull, the plot, hell, who cares? This film was the perfect transition for Johnny Weissmuller to transition into Jungle Jim. The time had come.

    I hate saying this, but this one isn't even for true devotees. Catch the ones where he fights the Nazi's instead. Those are great!
  • comment
    • Author: Dagdage
    Watching Tarzan And The Mermaids I was thinking this looks a whole lot like Acapulco rather than Africa. Even the 'natives' look Latino. And sure enough I found that RKO had shot a good deal of this in Acapulco. It was good for Johnny Weissmuller because in this film more than most of the Tarzan films he got to do what he did best, swim and dive.

    Wherever Tarzan was from exactly in Africa in the Forties he kept running into more Africans who weren't black than those who were. In this film he's found himself a culture who worships the God, Baloo. Baloo in fact is a pearl trader Fernando Wagner who puts on a Baloo suit and with high priest George Zucco keeps the natives in line. Wagner wants pearls, but Zucco's got an eye for Linda Christian and Baloo says to her to marry with Zucco. But she likes Gustavo Rojo and in the end Tarzan has to straighten everyone out in his usual manner.

    Brenda Joyce was Jane again, but Johnny Sheffield as Boy had departed the series going off to England for a neglected education. God only knows what that was like for the kid in an English public school. But Sheffield at least managed to miss some of the nonsense rampant in Tarzan And The Mermaids.

    Don't get me wrong, it's great fun if you don't take it seriously.
  • comment
    • Author: nailer
    We begin with some background information about the plot, which concerns false god "Balu" and his native followers. Employing hocus-pocus, high priest George Zucco (as Palanth) wants "Balu" to become the bride of luscious Linda Christian (as Mara). She would rather have handsome Gustavo Rojo (as Tiko). "Tarzan and the Mermaids" features no mermaids, but Ms. Christian is referred to as one. Intermittent singer John Laurenz (as Benji) brings news explaining the absence of "Boy", who is studying in England. This was the last appearance of Johnny Weissmuller (as Tarzan) in the series. Clearly growing too old for the role, Mr. Weissmuller turned in his loincloth and signed on for the more appropriate "Jungle Jim" series. All of this is secondary to the lush Acapulco location and photography, which makes this a pleasant film in spite of itself.

    ***** Tarzan and the Mermaids (3/29/48) Robert Florey ~ Johnny Weissmuller, Linda Christian, Gustavo Rojo, John Laurenz
  • comment
    • Author: Funny duck
    OK! The mermaids of the title here are actually pearl divers who require Tarzan's help to topple their evil leader. Oh and said evil leader has set himself up as a false God, thus enslaving the islanders with religious fervour.

    Filmed at Churubusco Studios in Mexico, Mermaids is the final appearance of Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. It's no great send off for the man who had worn the loin cloth with distinction. It's standard fare, with the franchise looking as tired as its iconic lead actor. However, it moves along at a good clip, introduces us to the lovely Linda Christian and director Robert Florey inserts enough under water battles (with men and creature) and cliff diving escapades to keep the pic zippy. Boy is away in England studying, but Jane (Brenda Joyce) is around looking delicious and not at all jealous of Tarzan bringing home Mara (Christian) after she escapes a planned marriage to evil false deity guy. While Cheeta, bless her, auditions for the role of Duane Eddy.

    Harmless lord of the apes fluff all told, but instantly forgettable into the bargain. 6/10
  • comment
    • Author: Mr Freeman
    Jungle films sometimes incorporate some noirish sequences, but as they were generally made for the matinée trade, the most often used plot element was mystery. Admittedly, in some movies like Tiger Fangs (1943), this mystery element was easily penetrated by a seven-year-old, even though it seemed to puzzle slow-of-brain Frank Buck and company.

    Admittedly, a bit of well-staged action helped to distract from the plot's shortcomings. However, aside from its copious use of incredibly ancient (but no doubt, cheap) stock shots, this movie's most notable contribution to audience entertainment lay in the engaging performance by Dan Seymour as an overweight, short-sighted villain.

    The rest of the players were a waste of time. It was particularly sad to see super-lovely June Duprez (star of Korda's luxurious Thief of Bagdad) forced to stand around in the shade of such pushy "B" regulars as Duncan Renaldo and J. Farrell MacDonald.

    I would rate the St Clair Vision DVD as no more than a seven out of ten!
  • comment
    • Author: Lcena
    Johnny Weissmuller knew to get out while the getting was good, but he waited too long by making this stinker. The racism is evident by the total absence of black people in a film supposedly taking place in Africa. Of course, the tipoff comes in the credits when the associate crew is almost entirely Mexicans, and the film made in Mexico. Tarzan doesn't show up until 13 minutes into the 90-minute film. Robert Florey has taken heat from some reviewers for a middling job as director, but the real blame belongs to screenplay writer Carroll Young.

    There is something to salvage, here,however. Gustav Rojo and John Lorenz had interesting careers, as did Fernando Wagner. Tracking their work on the IMDb database shows they appeared in many Mexican films but also in some U.S. films and TV series. Here's an example of how being bilingual and get you jobs in more than one country. And Linda Christian had to start somewhere. Dmitri Tiomkin must have owed some poker debts to pay off when he did the musical score, or maybe the music was leftovers from Duel in the Sun.

    When compared to the tightly written plots of Tarzan and the Amazons and other earlier Tarzan films, this one is an embarrassment. And where were the mermaids, anyway?
  • comment
    • Author: Shalizel
    The last Tarzan film starring Johnny Weissmuller (looking surprisingly aged a year after "Tarzan and the Huntress") is bad, in spite of all the trivia one can add to make it look better. It is obvious that RKO tried to make a great farewell for Weissmuller, shooting in beautiful scenery in México, with a top star of that country (Andrea Palma) and multiple award-winning cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, and bringing in prestigious composer Dimitri Tiomkin to do the score. Although it may have cost less for filming abroad, it looks more expensive than any other RKO film in the series, taking advantage of Acapulco beaches and real pyramids as Aquatania, and with impressive décors for all the scenes related to the temple of god Balu (especially the exterior, built on steep rocks.) Kurt Neumann should have stayed as director, instead of Robert Florey, who gives it a very slow pace. Neumann had done a fine work with "Tarzan and the Amazons", "Tarzan and the Leopard Woman" and "Tarzan and the Huntress", and finished his career directing the classic "The Fly" the year before his death; while Florey became a television director, after a career of few remarkable films. If Weissmuller looks tired, the chimp playing Cheeta is not as good as the others, but the worst character is Benji, an obnoxious mailman who sings horrendous songs (that have a Caribbean air, in a location supposed to be Africa and shot in México!) Boring and decidedly of dubious taste, it was a sad farewell to Weissmuller's Tarzan.
  • comment
    • Author: anonymous
    "Through the forest I carry the mail/Singing better than a nightingale/As great a lover as postman/And particular friend of the mighty Tarzan."

    This is the last, and by far the least, of the Weissmuller Tarzans. It's stultifying, truth be told, with a risible storyline utilising a hammy George Zucco, and an inexplicable number of terrible songs (please see above), crooned by John Laurenz. The only brightspots are the snippets of Robert-Florey-does-Robert-Flaherty faux-documentary footage, some decent underwater photography, a bit where loads of stuntmen leap off a cliff and the unexpected octopus duel (it won't be unexpected anymore; sorry). The remaining 61 of the 64 minutes consist of Tarzan swimming and people getting into and out of boats (calling to mind that famous review of They Were Expendable; alas, the similarities end there), as well as those bloody songs. Even Johnny Sheffield and the decent Cheetas had buggered off by this time. RKO's revival of the popular MGM series ultimately created one minor classic of its kind (Desert Mystery), two enjoyable timewasters (Triumphs and Huntress), a pair of iffy, cheesy romps and this dud.
  • comment
    • Author: Weetont
    Last of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films and a good thing too, as this is easily the worst of the 12 films he made over a period of 16 years. No mermaids are featured here either as a beautiful island woman tries to escape the clutches of her people, who worship a god and try to force her to be its bride. She finds Tarzan and Jane, who try to protect her. George Zucco is present as a potentially villainous High Priest but isn't used to his full advantage. Also on hand and worthy of mention is a hugely annoying guitar player/singer who goes into song every so often. Even the "great" Robert Florey can't aid this one.

    *1/2 out of ****
  • comment
    • Author: Magis
    Johnny Weissmuller's swan song as Tarzan, the Ape Man. Looking winded and overweight, it's almost painful seeing Weissmuller running, diving, and climbing rocky terrain--he no longer has the grace of an athletic jungle man, and close-ups of his grizzled face reveal both an actor's rebellion and perhaps a bit of embarrassment. Down the river from Tarzan and Jane's abode on the African coast lies a taboo island ruled by a false god, whom the natives shower with treasures from the sea. Promised a maiden bride, the costumed ruler and his power-hungry potentate are furious when the beautiful girl selected escapes (how she fits into their pearl-trading scheme isn't made clear, nor is the fact she realizes the god Balu is a fake but her people do not). Filmed in Mexico City, the picture is padded with local atmospherics and asides (some of which, such as the breathtaking cliff-side high-dives, are truly marvelous). Dimitri Tiomkin's lush scoring and the shimmering black-and-white cinematography by Jack Draper and Gabriel Figueroa almost make the movie worth-seeing; however, Brenda Joyce is a lackluster Jane, a subplot regarding government officials is confusingly integrated, and there isn't enough humor. ** from ****
  • comment
    • Author: GAMER
    I've seen thousands of films (I was practically brought up in the cinema as my mum worked in the Granada, Acton when I was growing up) and this is quite simply the worst I've ever seen. Perhaps it's because I was working as an usher one hot summer in the sixties and was subjected to this film 12 times! The acting is terrible, storyline ridiculous, music painful and design kitsch. Maybe it's about expectations? It's not even so bad that it becomes compulsive viewing in the way that some B movies are? If they lose the negative for this one, the history of cinema will remain intact!!
  • comment
    • Author: Delirium
    I'd never seen a Tarzan movie before so when I saw it on the tele I thought I'd give it a shot. Unfortunately I have to say I was disappointed. Tarzan was over 40 years old and somewhat overweight. Not how I'd imagined Tarzan would look. And, unless I missed it while making myself a cup of tea, Tarzan never gave his traditional warbling yell. Also missing was Tarzan swinging through the trees - leaping from vine to vine.

    Oh well, so much for expectations. Anyway, Jane was there - The monkey Cheeta was there. There was some guy with a guitar there. There were villains and good guys and a romance... all very harmless and predictable. Nothing bad, you understand, but equally nothing good.

    Probably not the best movie to introduce Tarzan: 4/10
  • comment
    • Author: Kizshura
    Johnny Weissmuller made a name for himself as Tarzan at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio. However, and I am not sure why, Weissmuller and 'Boy' (Johnny Sheffield) jumped from this prestige studio to the less than stellar RKO--where the budgets shrank considerably as did the quality. The scripts got a lot more weird and the films became chock full of poorly integrated stock footage and animals that often weren't even African. Additionally, 'Jane' (Maureen O'Sullivan) remained at MGM and a new leading lady needed to be found. After having the character be 'off on vacation in England' or 'helping with the war effort' in a couple films, RKO decided to re-cast this character with Brenda Joyce--who bore little similarity to O'Sullivan.

    This episode was shot in Mexico--which might explain why the extras look a lot more Hispanic than African! And, to make it even more obvious that this is taking place no where near the Dark Continent, you see stock footage of Canadian Geese and the baddies hang out in an Aztec pyramid!!! Why didn't they also have some Moon Men or the Brooklyn Dodgers in the film while they were at it?! The film begins with a woman running off from the land of Aquatania. Why? Because the priest (George Zucco) wants her to marry her people's god, Balu (not the bear). She knows he is NOT Balu but some guy in a costume but her people have been fooled. And when she escapes, she naturally runs into Tarzan and Jane who try to help. In the end, all three end up back in Aquatania for a showdown with the baddies.

    While absolutely none of this bizarre film makes any sense (I think the writers were experimenting with LSD), it is reasonably entertaining--in a dumb way. I enjoyed seeing the very paunchy Weismuller as Tarzan--not that he was great but seeing an older guy playing this hero gave me a bit of a laugh. This film is a great one actually for bad movie buffs, as it is clearly one of the worst of the Weismuller films--which is a shame, as the earlier MGM ones were surprisingly good.

    By the way, the Cheeta in the film is much younger and smaller than the one in the last film. This new one was cuter but just didn't have the same screen presence and grace as the old Cheeta!
  • comment
    • Author: VariesWent
    This is the last of the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies and unfortunately it's a damp squib. The charm of the early movies is lost as a tired plot limps towards the inevitably rushed and predictable finale. The setting is at odds with earlier movies being filmed quite obviously (from the extra's alone) in Mexico.

    The plot is terribly weak and Brenda Joyce lacks any of the charm of Maureen O'Sullivan who was such an integral part of the success of the early Tarzan films. There is also a lack of any jungle animals those being replaced by an octopus.

    Even for the time this really is a poor effort, it's as if they had all just given up. Only a few impressive diving scenes and it's historical value make this film worth watching.

    Even for the most ardent Tarzan fan this is desperately disappointing fare.
  • comment
    • Author: Tholmeena
    Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)

    * 1/2 (out of 4)

    This sorry excuse for an adventure movie marked the twelfth and final film for Johnny Weissmuller in the role of Tarzan. This time out he and Jane (Brenda Joyce) are enjoying life without Boy who is in England studying. This time out Tarzan must save a woman (Linda Christian) who is being "offered" up to a man (George Zucco) pretending to be the God of Aquantania but our Ape Man friend knows he's just a fake and plans on saving the girl and showing the people the truth. RKO decided to shoot this Tarzan in Mexico City and it really shows because the locals are obviously not from Africa and none of the footage looks anything like a jungle. Most of the time it looks as if you're visiting a resort because the water is clear, the skies blue and there's not a single shot of what appears to be anything resembling a jungle. Who knows, perhaps RKO was rewarding their stars by allowing them to shoot in such a pretty location. I do somewhat doubt this because if they were too cheap to hire someone to write a story it's doubtful they were going to do anything useful for the cast. This entire film is so incredibly bad that one can't help but wonder if the screenwriters and director Florey were experimenting with some grass or some extremely harmful alcohol. The story is all over the place and it never makes a bit of sense as characters and their motivations seen to change every few minutes. The screenwriters and production crew couldn't even seem to deliver what the title promises because there's not a single mermaid to be seen and the only time the word is used is by a supporting player who throws the word out when Tarzan catches a (normal) woman at sea. This one word of dialogue seems to have been shot apart from the rest of the movie and just thrown in and I'm guessing it was thrown in after the producers realized that they wasn't a mermaid in the film. Weissmuller, clearly packing on the pounds by this point, sleepwalks through the film as does Joyce who is really wasted. The two of them don't seem interested in anything going on and have zero chemistry together. Zucco was a master at "B" films but sadly he doesn't add anything either as his dialogue will put you to sleep and his character just isn't very interesting. Christian isn't too bad in her part but the screenplay doesn't give her much to do. TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS would mark the final film in the series and sadly it's the worst of the bunch. I guess this is to be expected because the previous two entries were rather poor and it's clear that everyone involved had given up all hopes for the series.
  • comment
    • Author: mIni-Like
    Not even Tarzan could defeat Benji and his interminable songs, however! What is there to be said about Tarzan and the Mermaids that hasn't already been said by the other fine reviewers on this site? Probably not a lot, but having caught this on TCM just this week the film is certainly a bizarre adventure. Given that the running time just tips the 60 minute mark there is substantial amount of padding on show (which never bodes well), from the long narrated intro (which also gives the villains' game away from the off), the various aqua pursuits of the island folk (although the cliff diving is thrilling, it must be said) and then the exploits of Benji. If Benji's full-length songs don't eat up enough screen time, then there is Benji preparing for and then engaging in a sea joust. Of the songs, it's interesting to note the pained but humouring faces of Jane et al when Benji treats them to his ditties - a bit like visitors enduring a friend's insistence that they sit through their 'talented' child's piano recital and who act all polite when all they really want to do is scream "ENOUGH!". Anyway, Cheetah has the right idea and nicks Benji's guitar early on, but sadly he is ordered by Tarzan to return it.

    Oh, and Benji is supposed to be a river postman, but he can't even get that right and forgets the only letter that he has to deliver to Tarzan Towers. Luckily, he has no qualms about invading privacy and having read it previously conveys, in the form of verse (cue five more minutes of Benji action), its contents from a now England-based Boy. Although, given the sketchy information Benji communicates, Boy is clearly living student life to the max and not missing the jungle one bit.

    Anyway, aside from no mermaids, we get the lovely Linda Christian as Mara, a crook pretending to be a God (who wants to marry Mara, which would rathar give the non-God game away on the wedding night, I'd have thought), George Zucco walking around an Aztec pyramid a lot (with some cool star-shaped shell necklace bling), and a secret island that curiously leads directly to Tarzan and Jane's gaff by river and only takes 10 minutes to get there by canoe (as Tiko, Mara's true love, also demonstrates when he randomly shows up at Tarzan/Jane's tree-top manor). So, a guilty pleasure, for sure, if you can survive Benji and his songs. But that is a big 'if'.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Johnny Weissmuller Johnny Weissmuller - Tarzan
    Brenda Joyce Brenda Joyce - Jane
    George Zucco George Zucco - Palanth - The High Priest
    Andrea Palma Andrea Palma - Luana - Mara's Mother
    Fernando Wagner Fernando Wagner - Varga - Pearl Trader
    Edward Ashley Edward Ashley - Commissioner
    John Laurenz John Laurenz - Benji
    Gustavo Rojo Gustavo Rojo - Tiko - Mara's Fiancé
    Matthew Boulton Matthew Boulton - British Inspector-General
    Linda Christian Linda Christian - Mara
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