Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941)

Unrated  |   |  Action, Adventure, Romance  |  1 December 1941 (USA)
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Reviews: 14 user | 18 critic

Tarzan's jungle home, and his family, Jane and Boy, are threatened by men greedy for gold.



(original screenplay), (original screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Boy (as John Sheffield)
Philip Dorn ...
Cordell Hickman ...


A scientific expedition happens to discover that gold exits on Tarzan's escarpment. The villainous Medford and Vandermeer kidnap Jane and Boy to extort from Tarzan the location of the gold. Everyone is captured by wicked natives. Tarzan and his elephants rush to the rescue. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gold | rescue | greed | elephant | river | See All (27) »


2 Years In Production See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 December 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El tesoro de Tarzán  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)


(Sepiatone) (blue tone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Re-released in France in 1971. See more »


When the natives are hurling spears at the truck, the tips of some of the spears bend, flex, or rebound (they are obviously made of rubber or foam). See more »


[last lines]
Jane: He'll never tell where his riches came from. You can be sure of that.
Tarzan: Tarzan sure.
See more »


Follows Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) See more »


Cannibal Carnival
Music by Sol Levy
Played during main titles
See more »

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User Reviews

The Son of Tarzan
14 February 2005 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE (MGM, 1941), directed by Richard Thorpe, the fifth installment in the popular adventure series based on Edgar Rice Burroughs immortal characters as portrayed by Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, is another good entry. In the last chapter, TARZAN FINDS A SON (1939), Tarzan and Jane acquired an orphan from an airplane crash and raise the child they call Boy (Johnny Sheffield) as their own. Unlike the movies released between 1932 and 1936, this entry plays more for the juvenile crowd, having the story revolving more around Boy than on his adoptive parents, and concentrating more on fast-pace adventure along with recycled animal fighting scenes lifted from previous films, but with limitations of violence.

The story begins typically as the jungle family is seen swimming under water where Boy discovers gold on the bottom. Learning of its true value from Jane, the curious Boy later sneaks away, accompanied by Cheetah, to venture the outside world of civilization. After a few close calls involving wild animals and crossing a tree stump over a cliff that may break in half, Boy meets an African native boy named Tumbo (Cordell Hickman), who, after saving him from being chased by a rhino, is taken to his village. Because Tumbo's mother has died of the plague, the angry Ubardi tribe believe Boy responsible for her death, thus capturing and tying him to wooden poles where he is placed to be sacrificed by being burned alive. Just in the nick of time, a group of researchers scare away the tribe by driving their jeep through their village and honking the horn. Grateful for the rescue, Tarzan accepts Professor Elliott (Reginald Owen), Dennis O'Doul (Barry Fitzgerald), Medford (Tom Conway) and Vandermeer (Philip Dorn) as friends and invites them, along with native boy Tumbo, to his tree-house to show his appreciation. It is only after Boy shows off his piece of gold do Medford and Vandermeer show signs of greed, turning against Tarzan for refusing to lead them to the secret treasure, and scheming to do away with him as well as holding Jane and Boy hostage until they get what they want.

Production values by MGM standards still good, and cast quite impressive, especially by the major attractions of Weissmuller, O'Sullivan and Sheffield as the jungle family, along with supporting MGM stock players, headed by Reginald Owen. By this time, the Tarzan formula was becoming fairly routine ranging from elephant stampedes, Tarzan's crocodile/ wild animal fights, the jungle warlord's battle against a native tribe uprising who hold Jane and Boy prisoners, among others. One interesting scene involving Jane and Boy as they are seated in separate canoes with their hands tied behind their backs surrounded by natives, with Boy, falling out of the canoe where he is then seen sitting at the bottom of the river struggling to loosen the ropes that bind him while Tarzan tries desperately to reach him in time before he drowns. Suspense builds as Tarzan meets with delays as he not only dodges spears thrown at him by the tribe, but fighting off crocodiles getting in his way. One can imagine the roars and cheers in the movie houses at that time. As usual, intruders enter the scene, at first in good faith, until some of them become untrustworthy when learning of priceless gold on Tarzan's domain. Of the expedition team, there is usually one trusting soul, in this instance the drunken Irishman named O'Doul, wonderfully played by Barry Fitzgerald.

TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE marks a very rare instance in the series by which Boy is befriended with another boy of equal age. Although it appears that Tumbo might remain as part of Tarzan's family as well as becoming Boy's best friend, his character would never reappear in future installments. One thing that is certain, aside from the frequent Tarzan ape calls is Cheetah the chimp around for assurance in aiding one of the characters as well as providing well intentional humor.

Aside from frequent revivals on commercial television prior to 1990, TARZAN'S SECRET TREASURE, which runs at 81 minutes, was distributed on video cassette through MGM/UA in the early 1990s, and formerly presented on the American Movie Classics cable channel (1997-2000) before making its Turner Classic Movies debut April 30, 2010. In 2004, the Tarzan/MGM series was distributed on DVD as part of the six movie Tarzan MGM package (1932-1942). The Tarzan legend lives on. Next exciting chapter in the series: TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (1942). (**1/2)

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