Friday, 7 November 2014


d. Wilhelm Thiele (1943)

I’ll start by saying that I love Tarzan films. I also hate Nazis, so Tarzan Triumphs, where Tarzan kills Nazis, is my sort of movie.
When the German army invade the sub-Saharan city of Palandrya it takes Tarzan a long time to intervene, despite the entreaties of an exotic Princess (Jane is away in England nursing wounded soldiers). Tarzan, played with implacable practicality by Johnny Weissmuller, doesn’t understand what it has to do with him – he fights as a last resort, and only to survive – this isn’t any of his business. When the Nazis impinge on his escarpment, however, and try to kill his son and his monkey, Tarzan, rather like the United States after Pearl Harbour, finally understands that tyrants don’t just stay in other people’s backyards, instead having a nasty habit of spreading out if unchecked. In perhaps the single most dramatic moment of the cycle, Tarzan’s face darkens and he grabs his knife, uttering the immortal line: ‘Now Tarzan make WAR!’ and, by Christ, he does.
We needn’t go into extensive detail about how he systematically wipes out the Germans other than to say he employs both his in-built talent for death (Tarzan is a good man, but he kills pretty much everything that he disagrees with) and the deadly natural accoutrements of his jungle home: crocodiles, rampaging elephants, some geographically misplaced piranhas. For all their arrogance and advanced ordnance, The Nazis have no effective answer to Tarzan’s primal savagery and so, accordingly, die, one by one, screaming in horror and incomprehension at how this could happen to a member of the master race. Aficionados of the series will be familiar with the relentless horror and violence of Tarzan films, and although this is relatively tame in comparison to, say, Tarzan Escapes, it is still strangely satisfying to see so many nasty National Socialists get their bloody comeuppance.
The pay off, in which almost psychotically naughty chimp Cheeta talks to Berlin on the radio and is mistaken for Hitler, is brilliant, propaganda at its best, although, even in her role as an agent of chaos and misrule, Cheeta consistently demonstrates more humanity and compassion than the fucking Fuhrer ever did.   

There are clips of this fantastically entertaining film all over the internet, including one which comes with a very 21st century proviso: 
*WARNING* Johnny Sheffield ('Boy') is only 12 in these clips. If you prefer to see older people in peril then please do not view.

Incidentally, if you are interested in Tarzan films AND what I have to say on the matter, I am currently working on a short book called Tarzanetics which will include far more analysis and graphs and things. It will be published via The British Esperantist, i.e. my own private vanity press.

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