First and Only Weekly Webzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Issue 0623

Starring Johnny Weissmuller ~ No. 7
RKO 1943
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Nazi paratroopers invade the hidden city of the lost civilization of Palandrya with plans of mining the jungle of its minerals and natural resources to aid Hitler's war effort. Tarzan rescues Schmidt (Rex Williams) their radio operator, who later shows his true colors by shooting at Cheetah who has stolen a radio part. Boy's elephant saves the day by pushing the villain off a cliff. 

Palandryan princess Zandra (Frances Gifford), white princess comes to Tarzan for help from the invading Nazis but reluctant Tarzan becomes involved only after the Nazis shoot him and capture Boy. Zandra revives the wounded Tarzan who growls the immortal line: "Now Tarzan make war!" Tarzan reaches Boy but both he and Zandra are captured by the Nazis who plan to put them before a firing squad the next morning. Cheeta frees them and they lead the Palandryans in an assault on the Germans. Tarzan chases the Nazi colonel into the jungle where he falls into a trap and is killed by a lion. With the Nazis defeated all returns to normal.

Johnny Weissmuller: Tarzan 
Johnny Sheffield: Boy 
Frances Gifford: Zandra 
Stanley Ridges: Colonel Von Reichart 
Sig Ruman: Sergeant 
Philip Van Zandt: Captain Bausch 
Rex Williams: Lt. Scheldon Schmidt 
Pedro de Cordoba: Oman, the Patriarch 
Sven Hugo Borg: German Pilot (uncredited) 
Stanley Brown: Achmet (uncredited) 
George Lynn: German Pilot (uncredited) 
Otto Reichow: German Pilot (uncredited) 
Wilhelm von Brincken: General Hoffman in Berlin

Characters: Edgar Rice Burroughs (characters)

Director: William Thiel
Writers: Carroll Young (story) ~ Roy Chanslor& Carroll Young (screenplay)
Producer: Sol Lesser
Associate Producer: Wilhelm Thiele
Original Music: Paul Sawtell 
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild 
Film Editing: Hal C. Kern 
Production Design: Harry Horner 
Art Direction: Hans Peters 
Assistant Director: Clem Beauchamp
Sound Department: John C. Grubb
Stunt Double: Babe DeFreest  for Frances Gifford
Stunts: Paul Stader
Musical Director: C. Bakaleinikoff
Wardrobe: Elmer Ellsworth
Supervising Editor: Hal C. Kern
Tarzan has given up his room to Zandra and moves to Boy's bed

by Calvin Bowes
The body count in Tarzan Triumphs is 14. This has to be the most violent of all the Tarzan films. In this I am only counting those killed by Tarzan or his friends, not the people of Polandria. 
1. Two are killed as birds deliberately fly into their plane. 
2. The next two are brutally killed as Tarzan leads them into a lake filled with cannibal fish.
3. One more is killed by Bully the elephant as he pushes a Nazi off a cliff. 
4. The next one Tarzan kills in cold blood, as he jumps out of a tree and throws a Nazi off a cliff 
5. Another Nazi is killed by Tarzan lowering a rope behind him and pulling him into a tree high above. He then lets go of the rope and the Nazi falls to his death. This death is in cold blood.
6. The next death is in self defense. As a Nazi is about to shoot Tarzan, he throws a knife into the Nazi's chest 
7. Tarzan then approaches a Nazi from behind and throws him off a building. 
8. As a Nazi walks below Tarzan throws his knife into the man's head 
9.  Cheeta has to get into the act as she shoots one Nazi on a roof top. She shoots him with a machine gun, then starts chuckling.
10. Now it's Boy's turn as he takes out a pistol and shoots a Nazi in the street below. 
11. The last Nazi is killed when Tarzan leads him to a lion pit and the Nazi is eaten alive.
Now this film is only 78 minutes long, which means for every 7 1/2 minutes someone dies at the hands of Tarzan  or one of his friends. And I can bet if the villains were not Nazis this film would never have passed the Hayes office review board. This is still one of my favorite Tarzan flicks, but I feel you must agree this is the most gratuitously violent of all of them.

Frances Gifford: (Born on December 7, 1920 in Long Beach ~ Died of emphysema on January 15, 1994 in Pasadena) She was born and raised in Long Beach, California, the statuesque brunette had no ambition to be an actress, and had applied to UCLA Law School when, at age 16, she and a friend got to visit the Samuel Goldwyn studios, where they watched a movie being shot. A studio exec saw her and asked if she would take a screen test. She did, the studio was impressed with the result and put her under contract. Nothing much came of it, however, other than bit parts, and she moved to RKO and played bits and extra roles until she married her first husband James Dunn  (1938 - 1942 divorced) and decided to retire. Out of the movie business for almost two years, she returned for a part in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) following which she costarred with husband James Dunn in two PRC cheapies, Mercy Plane and Hold That Woman in 1940 and her career began to revive. She was signed by Paramount, which soon loaned her to Republic, where she made the film she is probably most remembered for: the 1941 serial Jungle Girl in which she played  the fetchingly unclad, endlessly resourceful Nyoka. Following this she was extremely winning as Robert Benchley's studio tour guide in Walt Disney's The Reluctant Dragon (1941), looking especially beautiful in Technicolor. That same year she was signed by Paramount, where she had both supporting parts (1942's The Glass Key 1943's Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour) and leads (Tombstone-the Town Too Tough to Die, American Empire both 1942). After playing another jungle girl in Tarzan Triumphs (1943), Gifford moved to MGM, where she was given better roles in bigger pictures and showed real promise in Cry Havoc (1943), Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944), Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), The Arnelo Affair (1947), and Luxury Liner (1948). Seriously injured in a 1948 car accident, Gifford never really regained her selfconfidence, and after making two films, Riding High (1950) and Sky Commando (1953) in a difficult state of mind, she retired from the screen. She spent several years in a mental institution but finally defeated her personal demons and, as recently as the late 1980s, was doing volunteer work for charitable organizations in Southern California, including the Pasadena city library. She died of emphysema in Pasadena in 1994.

Stanley RidgesStanley Ridges: Born on July 17, 1891 in Southampton, Hampshire, England and died on April 22, 1951, in Westbrook, Connecticut. Stanley Ridges became a protege of Beatrice Lillie, a star of musical comedies, and spent a great many years learning and honing his craft on the stage. After moving to America he became a romantic leading man on Broadway. His first film appearance was in 1923's Success, but his film career would not begin to take off until he was 43 in 1934's Crime Without Passion opposite Claude Rains. Stanley found himself cast in character roles, as his graying hair put his romantic leading man days at an end. Despite this he was expertly cast in the 1940 horror film Black Friday opposite Boris Karloff as a loved professor who becomes the innocent victim of a shooting. To save him Karloff's character transplants part of the brain of the criminal, who shot Stanley's character. Stanley then goes on to steal the film doing a Jekyll and Hyde act going  from the beloved professor to the crass and uncouth criminal.
Filmography Highlights: The Sea Wolf' (1941) ~ Sergeant York (1941) ~  To Be Or Not To Be (1942) ~ The Suspect (1944). His last film was The Groom Wore Spurs (1951)   Mini-biography by Keith Burnage 

Sig RumanSig Ruman: Born on October 11, 1884 in Hamburg, Germany and died on February 14, 1967 in Julian, California of a heart attack. Ruman played many German characters, often for laughs over his long film career.
Filmography Highlights: Lucky Boy (1929) ~ A Day at the Races (1937) ~ Nothing Sacred (1937) ~ Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937) ~ The Saint in New York (1938) ~ Suez (1938) ~ Ninotchka (1939) ~ To Be or Not to Be (1942) ~ Tarzan Triumphs (1943) ~ A Night in Casablanca (1948) ~ Mother Wore Tights (1947) ~ Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation (1953) ~ The Glenn Miller Story (1953) ~.Houdini (1953) ~ White Christmas (1954) ~ Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) ~ The Fortune Cookie (1966) ~ Doom of Dracula (1966)

Philip Van ZandtPhilip Van Zandt: Born Philip Pinheiro on October 3, 1904 in Amsterdam, Netherlands and died on February 15, 1958 in Los Angeles, California (suicide). Van Zandt had a long film career -- more than 200 films -- in which he played many villains -- he was a regular foil for the Three Stooges and the Bowery Boys films. He made many television appearances in the '50s. His life ended tragically in suicide as a result of his despondency over his lack of acting roles and his gambling losses.
Filmography Highlights: hose High Grey Walls (1939) ~ Citizen Kane (1941) ~ Tarzan Triumphs (1943) ~ Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943) ~ House of Frankenstein (1944) ~ Call of the Jungle (1944) ~ .Pride and the Passion (1957) ~ Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) ~ Fifi Blows Her Top (1958)

Motion Picture Herald

Sol Lesser's first Tarzan picture for RKO Radio release under the present arrangement achieves without violence to the traditions of the series the overwhelming of a Nazi parachute troop by the jungle man, played again by Johnny Weissmuller, virtually single-handed. By a deftness of script writing accomplished by Roy Chanslor and Carroll Young, the Nazis are wafted down upon a peaceful community neighboring on Tarzan's fastness and their depredations at length arouse the peace-loving hero's ire. Quite a measure of suspense accrues during the development. The chimpanzee and elephant seen in previous Tarzan films figure again in the proceedings, although the beasts of the jungle are not summoned to participate in the killing on this occasion, the hero attending to that with a knife which he wields and hurls with equal dexterity.  Johnny Sheffield is seen as Tarzan's son, Frances Gifford as the girl in the film, not romantically related to the hero, and a cast of dependables attend to the other roles. William Thiele's direction maintains plausibility, although taking advantage of the liberties in that department supplied by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the designing of the Original Tarzan mythology, and the production measures up to expectations.

The Toronto Star

It was bound to happen sooner or later, of course. You might have known that eventually the Nazis would invade Tarzan's jungle and give it the benefit of protection by the Reich. But who'd have thought that Tarzan would turn out to be an isolationist and refuse to take action against the swastika until the heiling boys tried to take over his tree? That's the idea behind the plot that Sol Lesser has bestowed upon the ape man for the first of at least two pictures he's doing for R.K.O. Tarzan, who used to work out in the Metro jungle, has been taken over by another studio and, in the transition, has lost one wife, and gained another female companion. Jane is in London for a spell, visiting her mother and writing letters back to the jungle, discussing the war. That is the first her husband has heard of Nazis... but he meets them face to face when a beautiful princess appeals to him for help in driving them out of her grandfather's village.  The perpetually-youthful Tarzan (he's been swinging in and out of that tree for the past forty years) is still being played by Johnny Weissmuller, and Johnny Sheffield is carrying on as his son, Boy. Frances Gifford plays Zandra, giving the feminine touch in place of Maureen O'Sullivan, who theretofore has been Jane. The most interesting performer of all is perhaps Cheta, the ape, who seems to be forever laughing at or with her human companions. Audience note: The young man on our left (aged about 12) spent most of the film's running time perched on the edge of his seat in a fever of excitement. We thought, on one or two occasions, that he might explode.


First of the Sol Lesser "Tarzan" pictures with Johnny Weissmuller again in the title role proves beneficial to the series Metro initiated so successfully. Picture does not stack up against first two or three Metro produced, but tops later films in series. Tarzan Triumphs will please grown-ups as well as juves, provides bangup entertainment for action fans and is graphic illustration of what careful budget production-helming can do with a budgeted picture. More action than usual distinguishes latter portion of film, Tarzan's declaring war on Nazis who have kidnapped his son resulting in movement of serial  proportions. Screenplay by Roy Chanslor and Carroll Young gives good motivation to plot, and William Thiele makes the most of his direction. Photography is well handled by Harry Wild, Hans Peters' art direction is interesting and music by Paul Sawtell adds to the general overall interest.

The first post-WWII showing in Japan    ~    Spanish Poster

Click for full-size promo collage

Visit our Tarzan Triumphs Supplementary Pages
Photo Gallery I | Photo Gallery II | Photo Gallery III

ERBzine Silver Screen Movie Illustrated Reference Guide

Colour Adaptations of the
MGM Tarzan Films
1373: Tarzan
The Ape Man
1374: Tarzan 
And His Mate
1375: Tarzan 
1376: Tarzan 
Finds A Son!
1377: Tarzan's 
Secret Treasure
1378: Tarzan's 
New York Adventure
1379: Tarzan
1380: Tarzan's
Desert Mystery
1381: Tarzan
and the Amazons
1382: Tarzan and the
Leopard Woman

Tarzan Triumphs Trailer
Geoff St. Andrews' Johnny Weissmuller Site
Internet Movie Data Base
Find The Fun dot Com Review
 At-A-Glance Film Review
Epinions Review
Tarzan of the Movies
Matt's Tarzan Movie Guide
ERB and the Silver Screen Volume I - The Silent Years by Jerry Schneider
Jerry Schneider's Movie Making Locations
ERBzine 0393 Weissmuller Site
ERBzine 0394 Weissmuller Site
Jungle Girl Serial

Volume 0623

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