Tarzan Triumphs

Tarzan Triumphs is a 1943 adventure film in which Tarzan fights the Nazis. Johnny Weissmuller had portrayed the Edgar Rice Burroughs character in six films with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but this was his first with the producer Sol Lesser at RKO Pictures. Lesser had previously produced Tarzan the Fearless and Tarzan's Revenge. Weissmuller was reunited with two of his three co-stars from several of the earlier films, Johnny Sheffield and Cheeta, but Maureen O'Sullivan was unable to reprise her role as Jane because the franchise switched from MGM to RKO, and O'Sullivan was an MGM contract player.[2] Instead, Frances Gifford played the princess of the lost city of Palandrya, which is conquered by Germans.

Tarzan Triumphs
Directed byWilhelm Thiele
Produced bySol Lesser (exec. producer)
Wilhelm Thiele (uncredited assoc. producer)
Written byCarroll Young (story and screenplay)
Roy Chanslor (screenplay)
Based onCharacters created
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
StarringJohnny Weissmuller
Johnny Sheffield
Frances Gifford
Stanley Ridges
Music byPaul Sawtell
CinematographyHarry J. Wild
Edited byHarry Horner
Distributed byRKO Pictures
Release date
  • February 19, 1943 (1943-02-19)
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million (US rentals)[1]


Tarzan and Boy are living on the Great Escarpment, though Jane has returned to England to tend to her sick mother. A small force of German paratroopers lands and takes over the lost city of "Palandrya" as an advance base for the conquest of Sub Saharan Africa. Tarzan continually ignores the requests for help from the helpless and enslaved Palandrians, saying, "Jungle people fight to live, civilized people live to fight."

Only when Boy is kidnapped by the Germans does Tarzan shout, "Now Tarzan make war!" Tarzan infiltrates the lost city, destroying a machine gun and defeating the German invaders with his knife and an elephant blitzkrieg. The film's final scene has Cheeta speaking into the defeated Germans' short wave radio to call Berlin; the Germans mistake Cheeta for Adolf Hitler.



The U.S. State Department informed Sol Lesser that a Tarzan film would be an ideal way to spread the message of democracy's battle against Fascism to the American public.[3] Lesser's first RKO Tarzan film had made the Ape Man a symbol of American isolationism. The film was the highest grossing of Lesser's Tarzan films.[3]

Unlike in previous Tarzan films, the natives are played by whites in South Sea Island costume rather than the black Africans of the MGM films. This use of non-blacks as natives continued for several other Tarzan films in the 1940s.


The film made a profit of $208,000.[4]


  1. "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  2. "Notes for Tarzan Triumphs (1943)". Allmovie. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  3. p. 140 Etter, Jonathan and Grauman, Walter E. Quinn Martin, Producer 2003 McFarland
  4. Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
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