Not your average Tarzan movie!
US / 49 minutes / bw / Consolidated, Stage & Screen Dir: Robert F. Hill Pr: Bert Sternbach, Albert Herman Scr: Bob Lively, Betty Laidlaw Story: Bert Ennis, Victor Potel Cine: George Meehan Cast: Rex Lease, Marion Shilling, Philo McCollough, Charles King, Henry Hall, Robert McKenzie, Victor Potel, Jean Porter, Henry Roquemore, Jimmy Aubrey, Robert F. Hill, Charles Harper, Tarzan the Police Dog.
The star of this short feature is the dog Tarzan. Inside Information was the first of the three Melodramatic Dog Features, each starring Tarzan, to be produced by the Beyond Poverty Row studio Consolidated Pictures. The other two were Million Dollar Haul (1935) and Captured in Chinatown (1935); in the latter, Marion Shilling and Philo McCollough (there spelled McCullough) would once more be his costars.
Lloyd Wilson (Lease) has persuaded Police Chief Gallagher (director Hill) to ask the Police Commissioner (Roquemore) for a special medal for Lloyd’s dog Tarzan (self). The Commissioner’s dubious, so Lloyd tells the tale of Tarzan’s intelligence and valor . . .
Lloyd informs the Commissioner that he’s Assistant Cashier at the City Investment Co. . . . although later in the extended flashback that makes up almost the entirety of the movie it seems instead that he has his own surety company. One Saturday he goes to the Seton National Bank where he tells the owner, Mr. Seton (Hall), that he wants to withdraw $200,000 in bonds for use first thing Monday morning; he’ll keep them in his own safe until then.
Mr. Seton (Henry Hall) interrogates Lloyd (Rex Lease) as Anne (Marion Shilling) looks on.
Also in Seton’s office while this conversation’s going on is the wealthy realtor Durand (McCollough), who might as well have CROOK stamped on his forehead in indelible ink. Durand has been persuaded by pretty Anne Seton (Shilling) that he should open an account at her daddy’s bank.
Lloyd (Rex Lease) and Anne (Marion Shilling) are clearly sweethearts.
Outside the bank afterwards, Lloyd, Anne and Durand encounter Tarzan, who loathes the realtor on sight. Lloyd rebukes the dog, sending him home on foot while he himself, with Anne, accepts a lift from Durand. Halfway there, Durand pauses to use a phone booth to call his henchman Blackie Black (King) and Blackie’s affiliate Gertie (Porter) with instructions to break into Lloyd’s office and steal the bonds. Quite why Blackie and his tame safecracker, Joe (Harper), should choose to start doing this before Lloyd and the bonds have actually reached the place is beyond me, but . . .
Durand (Philo McCollough) makes the guilty phone call.
Lloyd interrupts the robbers. So too does Tarzan, who’s worked out how to climb the fire escape. There’s an extended fray, mainly showing Tarzan rolling around on the floor with Blackie—one of them’s growling a lot but it’s hard to tell which—while Lloyd and Joe have one of those fist fights where the foes stick out their chins to receive the incoming punch, the sound effect for which just isn’t quite in sync.
Blackie (Charles King) keeps a lookout while Joe (Charles Harper) picks Lloyd’s lock.
Tarzan climbs the fire escape.
Leaving Lloyd and Tarzan briefly unconscious, the crooks flee for Durand’s house.
A pair of buffoonish Mutt ’n’ Jeff private detectives called Mack (McKenzie) and Rice (Potel) decide for no obvious reason that the robbery was an inside job, Lloyd being the inside man. Meanwhile Durand is still romancing Anne at the country club and the like, even though her heart belongs to Lloyd.
Meanwhile Blackie, Gertie and Joe have decided to doublecross Durand. Little realizing that Tarzan spotted them in town and rode on the back of their car all the way to Durand’s mansion, they get the safe open and remove the bonds. While they’re checking them just in case Durand has substituted false ones, Tarzan sneaks in and steals the portfolio Jeff used to convey the bonds across town.
The dog runs home. Police Chief Gallagher is just about to unwillingly arrest Lloyd at the insistence of Mack and Rice when up turns Tarzan with the incriminating portfolio. Off head omnes to the Durand mansion, where Gallagher and the cops send Lloyd and Tarzan in ahead of them—a distinctly non-standard police procedure. Blackie and co. have tied up Durand’s houseboy Henry (Aubrey), but Durand has turned the tables on them and they have to release the man.
Durand: “Henry, telephone Gat McKew. I want him to take some friends of mine to a quiet spot . . . in the country.”
Gertie (Jean Porter), Joe (Charles Harper) and Blackie (Charles King) caught red-handed by the return of Durand.
It’s then that Lloyd and Tarzan arrive. Cue another extended fight, growling, poorly synchronized sound effects, more growling, instant recovery from concussion, a bit of growling—if you guessed this is rather similar to what happened earlier in Lloyd’s office you guessed right, though this time it lasts longer. Seems to, anyway. Did I mention the growling?
Inside Information achieves the near-impossible in that it makes the average PRC filler look, well, polished. And ambitious. And competent. When the pacing doesn’t suck it blows, and vice versa. For no particular reason there’s a direly extended sequence at Anne’s country club where the humans make fools of themselves in and around the swimming pool while Tarzan—wheeze, chortle—drops someone’s yappy toy dog down a manhole.
Gallagher (Robert F. Hill) listens as Mack (Robert McKenzie, center) and Rice (Victor Potel) insist Lloyd should be arrested.
As if these aspects weren’t straining your oxycontin to its very limits, there are the editing bloopers. In one instance Tarzan comes to a door that we can see quite plainly is sufficiently ajar that he could just stick his nose or paw into the gap to open it. In the next shot the door is firmly shut, so that he has to manipulate the handle with his teeth. In a couple of other places, we see a few moments of action twice, filmed from different viewpoints, as if the editor (uncredited) couldn’t decide which was the better and so left it up to others to decide, only they never did.
There are some minor rewards among the supporting cast. While Marion Shilling doesn’t do very much here except simper in a comely fashion, there’s a pleasingly grittier contribution from Jean Porter in her very small role as the moll Gertie. I liked, too, Harper’s (oddly uncredited) performance as the peterman.
And, of course, Tarzan, while not the most adroit of canine stars, is an appealing hero. For this reason if for no other, I imagine some kids might enjoy this movie a bit more than their adult companions.