Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) - Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) - User Reviews - IMDb
Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
18 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
The Son of Tarzan
lugonian14 February 2005
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)
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Classic Tarzan
cdelacroix116 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this movie on DVD, and read comments about it in the IMDb comments section. I agree thoroughly with the comments by lovethoseclassics and lugonian, but wanted to add both my own enthusiastic thumbs up for this movie; and wanted to add a bit about my own reaction.

First, the "basics" really are all there. I was delighted by the black-and-white cinematography. It is crisp and well-composed throughout this film. The pace is excellent and there is never a dull moment. The script provides a wonderful story with nothing wasted.

I particularly liked the sequence in which we are given an opportunity to simply enjoy Tarzan and Jane and Boy and Cheetah in their life on the Escarpment, before the movie proceeds to a ripping classic adventure/action arrangement.

There were some particular features of this movie that especially tickled me. For example, the persons composing the members of the expedition is something of a classic from Edgar Rice Burroughs and Rider Haggard. We have the South African Dutch Vandermeer: venal, cool, knowledgeable, experienced, dangerous; the Englishman Medford: wicked, sharp, greedy, ambitious, murderous; the Irish Dubliner O'Doul: funny, mordant, romantic, sentimental, alcoholic; and Professor Elliott: scientifically curious, generous, gentlemanly, respectful, naïve.

The adventure scenes with Tarzan were provided with classic style and verve. Again in the grand tradition of Burroughs and Haggard, a typical scene combines the wonderful figure of Tarzan in action within the context of a delightful range of African venues. Consequently, we have: Tarzan facing savages and wild beasts in the depths of the lush jungle; Tarzan battling crocodiles and river-beasts and savages (again) in rivers teeming with dangers; Tarzan facing the wicked white men amid severe gorges and breathtaking drop-offs in the mountain fastnesses of the Escarpment. The pattern is dangerous micro-activity in the foreground, with breathtakingly scenic macro-landscapes in the background, and is to me wholly satisfying.

Similarly, scenes like that of Tarzan swimming underwater, the river being punctured again and again by shafts of spears being cast at him, was to me gripping and scary and (again) wholly satisfying.

And of course when Tarzan's elephants storm to his assistance, I felt once again that glorious sense of the Africa of Tarzan coming to the rescue in a mighty execution of justice that is (yes) wholly satisfying.

All in all, this movie is such a delightful experience. I'm so grateful it was reissued, along with the other 5 Tarzan movies with classic Weismuller/O'Sullivan collaboration, in a DVD collection, which is the source from which I saw it this evening. I would recommend this movie to anyone.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fun old movies, but....
haristas30 November 2003
I love the old Johnny Weissmuller/MGM "Tarzan" movies of the 1930s and 40s. I have them all six of them on laserdisc from the 1990s, but I have to wonder in what form they will arrive on DVD -- if ever? Watching "Tarzan's Secret Treasure" (1941) today I was amazed to hear for the first time, after many viewings, Barry Fitzgerald's O'Doul character refer to a little black native boy as a "pickaninny." In the earlier Tarzan movies the blacks are constantly called "boy" and other derogatory terms and often casually shot by white men for disobeying orders. I'm not sure, but I think there may be a problem with this being released on DVD today, but my point is that I DON'T want to see these films edited in any way. They're time capsules of entertainment from an earlier era, and they should be preserved.
14 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nice adventure movie in which Jane and Boy are kidnapped and Tarzan heads out to rescue them
ma-cortes26 May 2016
Enjoyable Tarzan movie , plenty of action , adventures and quite entertaining . It starts with the following preface : ¨Beyond the last outpost of civilization , a mighty escarpment towers the skies of Africa -uncharted on maps- a strange world , a place of mystery¨ . The picture concerns a naive Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) in his loincloth , living his fairy tale with Jane Parker (Maureen O'Sullivan) and cohabiting in unmarried bliss , this situation being really criticized by Hays Code . Tarzan , then , saves an expedition from a savage tribe , only to be repaid by having the mean hunters (Tom Conway , Philip Dorn , Reginald Owen) hold Jane and spunky ten-year-old Boy (Johnny Sheffield) hostage . As Boy is tricked by evil hunters and abandoning his parents . As the greedy explorers scheme heinous plans and want Boy's help in finding a secret cache of gold . Thus , Tarzan -helped by O'Doul (Barry FitzGerald) and Cheeta- , now heads to jungle in order to save the boy and gets into trouble with bad guys and cannibal tribes . But Tarzan doesn't take kindly to threat and kidnap to his family and executes against the evil-doers an extreme lesson .

The movie is dubiously faithful to Edgar Rice Borroughs story . It contains noisy action , sensational adventures , many angry natives , nasty white hunters , hungry lions and wonderful outdoors , though mostly shot in Hollywood studios . Well starred by Johnny Weissmuller , Maureen O'Sullivan Johnny Sheffield , both of them bring wit and style to their classic characters . However , Johnny Weissmuller is better Olympic swimmer than actor . Here stands out Johnny Sheffield whose first role was in ¨Tarzan finds a son¨ (1939) as an orphan whose ambitious relatives hope he stays lost so they can collect an inheritance . And , of course , special mention for the likable Chimpanzee Cheeta that steals the show , giving some humorous moments with his antics , frolics and mayhem . As usual , there are the obvious uses of stock footage due to many budget cutbacks following the death of Irving Thalberg many stock shots regarding wild animal sequences from former movies were used , such as intervention of a well trained Lion and a Chimpanzee ex-professed for the film . The sets and production design are visually appealing , including a brilliant cinematography by Clyde De Vinna . The motion picture was decently directed by Richard Thorpe .

First Tarzan/Johhny Weissmuller was ¨Tarzan , the ape man¨ (1932) by W.S. Van Dyke , this one being the definitive Tarzan movie , the original of the long series . Followed by ¨Tarzan and his mate¨ (1934) by Jack Conway . Richard Thorpe continued the following sequels : ¨Tarzan escapes¨(1936) , ¨Tarzan finds a son¨ (1939) with the addition of the five-year-old Johnny Sheffield as Boy , ¨Tarzan's secret Treasure¨ (1941) , and ¨Tarzan's New York adventure¨ (1942) where Boy is abducted by an evil circus owner , then Tarzan goes to rescue him and he meets N.Y. big city , being Maureen O'Sullivan's final appearance and in which Elmo Lincoln's , the screen's first Tarzan, had a cameo . These stories were lavishly produced by M.G.M. and R.K.O. Subsequently , to be appeared other Tarzans produced by independent producers as Sol Lesser ; the latter being replaced by Sy Weintraub , these movies were interpreted by Lex Barker and Gordon Scott : ¨Tarzan the Magnificent¨ and ¨The greatest adventure¨ directed by John Guillermin . Furthermore , Mike Henry starred as Tarzan in ¨Tarzan and the jungle boy ¨ , ¨ Tarzan and the great river¨ , and ¨Tarzan 66¨ directed by Robert Day . Besides , two performed by Jock Mahoney : ¨Three challenges¨ and ¨Tarzan goes to India¨ directed by John Guillermin , among others . Plus , other TV Tarzan as Ron Ely , Wolf Larsen , Joe Lara ...
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
More evil white guys invade jungle.
PIMannix14 May 1999
Well-paced and -produced jungle adventure with an heroic Weissmuller, a fetching O'Sullivan and a better-than-average supporting cast. I could have done without seeing the stock footage of Weissmuller battling that croc for the third time though. Not one of the best Tarzan adventures, but you could do a lot worse.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A good movie!
jimbo-388 March 1999
Nasty, great white hunters trick Boy and Jane into helping them steal Tarzan's secret cache of gold. During the getaway, they're captured by the even nastier Gaboni tribe who have some rather unpleasant activities planned for their captives. Tarzan to the rescue with the help of his elephant friends. This is one of my favorite Tarzan movies. Tom Conway is the epitome of debonair sleaziness and Barry Fitzgerald is great as a lovable Irishman who refers to the Ape Man as Mr. Tarzan.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tarzan vs the crocs
pensman7 April 2018
Weissmuller made a dozen Tarzan films over sixteen years. Tarzan's Secret Treasure is just about in the middle of that run, and Weissmuller is a bit older and "thicker" but still has the muscular look of Tarzan. I always liked the Tarzan films when I was young and regretted that Weissmuller never had the opportunity to become John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, but remained a monosyllabic Tarzan. I had read all of Burroughs' books and believe only John Carter and David Yates' The Legend of Tarzan capture Burroughs' characters.

Regardless, Tarzan's Secret Treasure is an enjoyable Tarzan entry even though there is little new here; however, the rescue of Jane and boy and the fight with crocodiles is worth it at the film's end. Good film to kick back with on a winter weekend or rainy weekend and sofa down with popcorn and just go along for the fun.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Gold on Tarzan's Plateau
bkoganbing30 April 2011
In Tarzan's Secret Treasure Johnny Sheffield finds gold at the bottom of the river where he and the family are out for their morning dip. The Boy knows nothing of what the yellow stuff is and Tarzan could care less as it doesn't effect his style of living, but Jane knows and wants it kept secret for all concerned.

A scientific expedition saves young Sheffield from the clutches of a savage tribe and Johnny Weissmuller is naturally grateful. But when the kid gives away the secret of the gold two of the white men, Tom Conway and Phillip Dorn get real greedy as Maureen O'Sullivan knew they would. Not even the protestations of the expedition leader Reginald Owen dissuades the other two, in fact they withhold fever medicine from him so Owen dies.

This episode of the Tarzan saga is nicely done and contains every kind of jungle peril out there, savage native tribes, attacking rhinoceros, lions, elephants and crocodiles. The last two figure in a very exciting climax when Tarzan puts things right in his jungle paradise.

Tarzan's Secret Treasure also features a very droll performance by Barry Fitzgerald as a most lucky Irishman who was along on the expedition. Fitzgerald's character has a good heart and does earn Tarzan's gratitude for services above and beyond. But as the film ends I believe Weissmuller and O'Sullivan are trusting a bit much to man's better nature in regard to him.

All in all, not too bad a Tarzan film.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tarzan's Repetitive Formula.
BA_Harrison1 August 2009
This formulaic fifth outing for Weissmuller and O'Sullivan proves that the series' writers were already starting to struggle for fresh ideas, the film being not much more than a messy hodge-podge of themes and footage lifted from the previous four movies.

This time around, Tarzan's idyllic jungle life comes under threat from a pair of greedy scientists, Medford (Tom Conway) and Vandermeer (Philip Dorn), who discover the existence of a rich vein of gold running through the escarpment on which the ape-man lives. Realising the villains' true intentions—to mine the region for its hidden wealth—Tarzan refuses to reveal the exact location of the main seam, but when the bad guys kidnap his woman, Jane (O'Sullivan), and adopted son, Boy (Johnny Sheffield), he has no option but to comply—at least until he gets the upper hand and once again calls his elephant pals for some help.

It pains me to say it, because I love Weissmuller's Tarzan movies, but this particular adventure is fairly tiresome: Medford's villainy is patently obvious from the get-go (after all, he does wear a pencil-thin moustache and a slimy smirk on his face); Irish light relief O'Doul (Barry Fitzgerald) is fun, but is easily bested by Cheetah, the real comedian of the series (the hairy beast gets drunk this time and walks on her hands—priceless!); Boy's best friend Tumbo is a lame attempt at trying to add a new character to the franchise; and we get to see Weissmuller wrestle that damn croc yet again!

On a more positive note, director Richard Thorpe does achieve a fair amount of tension, especially as Boy crosses a deep ravine on a fallen tree and when Tarzan launches an underwater attack on some nasty natives' canoes, and it's almost impossible not to enjoy Cheetah being catapulted over a gorge with a vine in order to rescue our hero from a precarious ledge.

Oh, and that weird bird from Tarzan Escapes makes another appearance; I can't get enough of that guy!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great Fun!
Space_Mafune12 February 2003
Wow! I really enjoyed this one even if the formula at work here had gotten a little predictable...this still has fantastic action, great animal chase scenes(who knew a Rhino could be so mean and deadly?) and an entertaining supporting character in Barry Fitzgerald's O'Doul. Great fun!

Favorite scenes: O'Doul outsmarts a crocodile ...
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A very good Tarzan film...and it reaffirms my feelings about mankind...
MartinHafer25 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is another one of the MGM produced Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller. The film begins with Boy (Johnny Sheffield) discovering gold nuggets while swimming. When Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) tells him about the things people in the civilized world do with that gold, Boy decides to head to the city to buy something with his new treasure. Unfortunately, the kid is naive and doesn't realize that men will do just about anything for the rocks. So, when he meets up with four men from a scientific expedition, he doesn't realize that two of them will get gold fever and threaten to destroy this jungle family. At the same time, a real fever (plague) strikes. Can these evil men be defeated and goodness reign supreme?

While this is a very well-written episode, it also worked well because of the wonderful supporting cast. All four of the white men in the expedition are well-established MGM supporting actors (Reginald Owen, Barry Fitzgerald, Tom Conway and Philip Dorn) and their experience add a bit of class and quality to the film. The only negatives, and I noticed them because I recently watched ALL the MGM Tarzan films, is that several of the scenes (such as the crocodile fightand the vicious way the natives murder the porters) were recycled from earlier films in an effort to save money. Still, it was enjoyable and once again proves that people really can be jerks!
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
George Sander's sound-alike brother tricks Tarzan!
a_chinn3 June 2018
Silly, but enjoyable Tarzan outing involves the well cast Tom Conway as a great white hunter tricking Tarzan, Jane, and Boy (Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Johnny Sheffield) into helping him find some hidden gold. The group, as usual, runs afoul angry natives, and Tarzan has to rescue all of the white people from the racist native stereotypes. Racist stereotypes of native people never come off well to modern eyes, but besides that ugliness, this remains an entertaining Tarzan adventure, particularly when you have George Sander's real-life sound-alike brother as one of the villains.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A most enjoyable movie
headhunter4618 April 2013
I watched this movie today. I found it on Netflix. I had forgotten how enjoyable this series was. If one can keep their mind on the fact this was made long ago without computer graphics and fancy special effects it is quite enjoyable. I still find myself wondering how on earth they filmed the parts with the real wild animals. That could not have been easy and they made it look so real.

Some of the background is obviously not real but this movie is such fun I barely noticed. A couple times I even chuckled at it.

I enjoyed this so much I started the second movie on this disk, the New York adventure and stayed up way past my bedtime.

I have determined to rent every Tarzan available and remind myself of when life was simpler and more enjoyable. Ten stars because it made me feel to watch this once again.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tarzan's Stock Treatment
wes-connors30 April 2011
Curly-haired Johnny Sheffield (as Boy) and chimp "Cheeta" are the main attractions in this fifth MGM "Tarzan" adventure. Beautiful jungle mate Maureen O'Sullivan (as Jane), who wanted to leave the film series after "Tarzan Finds a Son!" (1939), still tends the tree-house. The plot gets going when a swimming Sheffield finds gold in the jungle king's pool. Greedy white people and spear-chucking natives threaten young Sheffield, bringing Johnny Weissmuller (as Tarzan) into action. Whisky-soaked Barry Fitzgerald (as O'Doul) swings ahead of the guest stars. Watch "Cheeta" get drunk on Mr. Fitzgerald's Irish blend. Yes, a drunken monkey can walk a straight line on his hands. This one's nicely photographed, but obviously heavy on borrowed plots, reaction shots and stock footage.

***** Tarzan's Secret Treasure (12/1/41) Richard Thorpe ~ Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Johnny Sheffield, Barry Fitzgerald
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
All that glitters ...
dbdumonteil7 April 2010
Tarzan's secret treasure is not the gold they find in the water.In "Tarzan escapes" we had already seen Jane meeting her English cousins and displaying no interest in the rich inheritance .The beginning of the movie displays a true garden of Eden ,where you can have what you want for nothing ,so why bother to make money or use gold? This Rousseauesque side is all that makes these Tarzan movies (with Weissmuller) so endearing ;all the other ones are mediocre adventures flicks ,without heart and without emotion.It's only natural that Boy wants to know what civilization is.The movies the men from the cities show is good propaganda.This scene takes us back to the prehistory of cinema ,when the Lumiere bros' shorts used to scare the crowds who were afraid to get run over by a train.the rest of the plot is more conventional,but the scene on the river with hungry crocodiles is still impressive today.It seems that some scenes (the first victims of the nasty tribe) were taken from "Tarzan escapes" .

These black and white Tarzan movies have no contender ,with the possible exception of "Greystoke:the legend of Tarzan" (1982)
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A declining Tarzan!!!
elo-equipamentos9 January 2018
I've a almost a complete Tarzan's collection including some rariest movies, at MGM Johnny Weissmuller made a fine early pictures, but in this one seems like a plyaground forest, an utopian life, so many childsh scenes with Cheeta and Boy, Johnny is getting older and becomes a bit dumb, the screenplay is very badly written, who save the picture is Barry Fitzgerald as irish funny character O'Doull, he is a good reference to allow at least few good moments to enjoy for this weak production that was down the hill in that time!!


First watch: 1986 / How many: 3 / Source: TV-DVD / Rating: 6.5
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good but too much repeating of past glory
dbborroughs24 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Fifth of the Johnny Weissmuller/ Maureen O'Sullivan Tarzans is a good if much too formulaic adventure. The plot has Boy discovering gold in a river. Tarzan and Jane of course don't need it but when a group of explorers come through on their way to a plague site their greed is brought out and all sorts of nastiness occurs. For me this film is a mixed bag with much of the first half repeating variations on things that have happened in the previous films (jungle romp, torture by natives, etc), though this time with Boy and Cheetah instead of Tarzan and Jane. The film perks up once the explorers come in and the villainous ones, led by the ever wonderful Tom Conway, begin to try and do away with everyone. The climatic battle on the river is high light to the film, though it weakly trots out the alligator fight that has been in least two other films in the series. A good film thats very middle of the pack as Tarzan films go. Worth a look on cable or with a second feature.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Pure gold.
McFrogg26 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Even though it recycles some footage from the earlier movies, Tarzan's Secret Treasure is one of the best of the Weissmuller Tarzan movies. It's exciting and entertaining from start to finish, funny, romantic and even heartwarming.

The big action scene at the end, where Tarzan defeats the cruel natives and greedy white men by capsizing their boats is one of the most exciting action scenes I've seen in a movie, old or new. Watching Tarzan dodge spears under water made my heart race faster. The part where Tarzan's friends use a tree to catapult Cheeta from one part of the mountain to the other in order to save Tarzan is clever. And one of the best things about the movie is the funny Irish character called O'Doul. The movie wouldn't be the same without him.

The Tarzan movies really improved under the production code. The racist content is toned way down (Boy even befriends a black boy), and there's no unnecessary sex or gruesome violence like in the crude Tarzan The Ape Man or the overrated Tarzan And His Mate.

I watched it with my daughter and my mother last week, and they loved it too. I wish they made more movies like this today, action/adventure movies for the whole family. It's a good thing that the old Tarzan movies are available on DVD.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed