Third film in RKO's Lex Barker-Tarzan series has the ape man trying to stop a bunch of gunrunners who are selling weapons to a tribe planning to use them by attacking other tribes. With the jungle at such an unrest, it's up to Tarzan to try and rescue one of the main tribe's leaders (Dorothy Dandridge). Quite a few reviews called this the best of the Barker Tarzan movies and while it's certainly an improvement over the last entry I'd say it still falls a little short of the first one. There's quite a bit of stuff to enjoy here but sadly we're once again treated with a familiar story that just becomes more and more cliché as it goes along. I will admit that I thought the film started off with an interesting idea as Tarzan doesn't appear for the first fifteen-minutes. Instead of the ape man getting all the screen time the film tries to shine the spotlight on the bad guys who are obviously more interesting the more you can hate them. For the most part I thought the villains were quite evil enough but the screenplay never really made them very fun, which was a letdown. The supporting tribes are finally being played by black actors, which is a plus but sadly the screenplay doesn't given them too much to do. Once Tarzan, Jane (Virginia Huston) and Cheetah enter the picture it's pretty much all action from this point. Once again Barker is good in the role and I think it's fair to say that he finally gotten comfortable in it. Huston makes for an interesting Jane as she's certainly got the sex appeal but her chemistry with Barker isn't the greatest. George MacReady, Douglas Fowley and Glenn Anders all do a nice job in their villain roles. Dandridge is the one who easily steals the film though. Her beauty, charm and charisma jump right off the screen but sadly she isn't given too much to do. She certainly makes the most of the part and she makes it more memorable than any other actress would have but at the same time it's pretty sad to see her having to do a film like this. People always want to put THE BIRTH OF A NATION down but that was 1915 and here this film is 1951 and Hollywood still wasn't doing anything for one of the brightest black stars. The other highlight in the film happens when Tarzan must battle a man-eating plant. The scene actually manages a few nice, tense sequences. The lowlight of the film has to be a hilarious scene where Cheetah is about to be attacked by a huge snake but thankfully Tarzan comes to the rescue. What's so funny is the fake snake that they use and just wait until you get a look at its funny face!
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