Both Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe are prominently featured on the poster bare-chested, and publicity material also survives which show them, also bare-chested, in an arm-wrestling sequence; but in the surviving commonly marketed public domain version, such scenes never occur, and have apparently been carefully been edited out. See more »
At some time in studio boardroom had to have said "Let's put those 2 guys that played Tarzan together in one movie. This idea will sell itself to the distributors." He was probably right because SWAMP FIRE is a decently made, well paced movie that does not disappoint viewers.
Johnny Weissmuller starts as Johnny Duval, a war hero returning to his bayou home. He lost a ship he was in command of during the war and vows he will not take up his old position as bar pilot. This does not at all bother his old rival Mike (Buster Crabbe sporting a mustache and a Cajun accent) who sees this as a chance to make time with Johnny's old sweetheart Toni (Carol Thurston, who also appeared with Weissmuller in the Jungle Jim movie KILLER APE (1951)). Too bad but Toni only has eyes for Johnny. To make matters worse a spoiled rich girl (Virgina Grey) has set her sights on Johnny and coerces her dad (Pierre Watkin) to buy up a lot of bayou land and outlaw all trapping, which means the local folks can no longer hunt to feed their families. Is that enough plot for you? Wait, there is a lot more to come, and somehow it all fits into the 68 minutes running time without any of the resolutions seeming like a plot contrivance.
Johnny faces his demons while navigating rough waters one night but just when you think things are going to start going well he is piloting another ship through a dense fog and rams a smaller boat captained by Toni's father! Trying to drink himself to oblivion he is found Ms. Grey who uses this opportunity to poison his mind against Toni. Does it work? Does it ever? Don't forget the jealous Mike is still hanging around and think Johnny has sold out his own people to join the yacht club crowd. He plans a revenge where he plans to . . . oh well . . . you saw the title of the movie, right?
The cast is fabulous. Pierre Watkin had played Perry White in both SUPERMAN serials for Columbia Pictures. Ms. Grey would go on to encounter dinosaurs in UNKNOWN ISLAND in 1948. Mr. Crabbe found a home in B westerns and Mr. Weissmuller never really leave the jungle; starring as Jungle Jim in movies and TV for many years to come.
Budget restraints are pretty obvious. This movie must set a record for the number of rear screen projection shots used but it is still fairly believable and fun to watch.
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