TARZAN AND THE MERMAIDS (director: Robert Florey; screenwriters: story and screenplay by Carroll Young/based on the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographer: Jack Draper; editor: Merrill White; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Brenda Joyce (Jane), George Zucco (Palanth), Linda Christian (Mara), John Laurenz (Benji), Fernando Wagner (Varga), Edward Ashley (Commissioner), Andrea Palma (Luana, Mara's mom), Gustavo Rojo (Tiko), Matthew Boulton (British Inspector General); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol Lesser; RKO; 1948)

"The 12th and final time Johnny Weissmuller, the original Tarzan, played the iconic jungle man."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 12th and final time Johnny Weissmuller, the original Tarzan, played the iconic jungle man. The 44-year-old Weissmuller was deemed too old and flabby for the part (replaced by the younger Lex Barker), and went on to make a number of Jungle Jim movies. Robert Florey ("God is my Co-Pilot"/"The Cocoanuts"/"Meet Boston Blackie") directs this routine Tarzan episode, that's written by Carroll Young. The film was shot in Churubusco Studios in Mexico City, which explains why the extras look more Mexican than African. In this episode, Tarzan foils pearl thieves.

It's set in deepest Africa, where the Nyaga Ratu River meets the sea. There a happy-go-lucky island tribe known as the Aquatanians dives for pearls, fishes and worships Balu, a false god created by the evil high priest Palanth (George Zucco). Partnered with the greedy trader Varga (Fernando Wagner), dressing up in a gold plaster costume to play Balu, the high priest controls the tribe by having the deity issue commands from a temple on top of an isolated rocky island. The venal duo receive pearls from the naive tribe as gifts to the deity, and business is good for them.

The fake act is up when Mara (Linda Christian, soon to be the wife of Tyrone Power), the beautiful Aquatanian chosen to be Balu's bride, is taken to the temple for the wedding ceremony and flees when she notes the deception. Mara loves the guitar-playing exiled Tiko (Gustavo Rojo), and swims to get help from Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller). The exhausted Mara is nursed back to health by Tarzan's mate Jane (Brenda Joyce) and the postal carrier Benji (John Laurenz).

Mara gives Jane and Tarzan a large black pearl in appreciation, which Jane donates to the area's new commissioner (Edward Ashley) to improve the community. While Benji takes the pearl to the inspector general (Matthew Boulton) in Nyaga to verify its value.

When the evil duo capture Mara, Tarzan tracks her back to the temple. There Tarzan fights a giant octopus and exposes the duo as phonies to the natives. Thereby the natives take care of the baddies and prepare for the joyous wedding of Mara and Tiko.

REVIEWED ON 6/27/2011       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"