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Swamp Fire

USA 1946
produced by
William H. Pine, William C. Thomas for Pine-Thomas Productions/Paramount
directed by William H. Pine
starring Johnny Weissmuller, Virginia Grey, Buster Crabbe (= Larry Crabbe), Carol Thurston, Pedro de Cordoba, Marcelle Corday, William Edmunds, Edwin Maxwell, Pierre Watkin, Charles Gordon, Frank Fenton, Emmett Vogan, Edward Earle, David Janssen, Joseph Crehan, I.Stanford Jolley
written by David Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Johnny (Johnny Weissmuller) is a licensed bar pilot (= a pilot who guides all kinds of ships over the dangerous sandbars at the mouth of rivers and bays) in the Bayou area, but since he lost a ship in World War II - which was basically not his fault - he isn't the same anymore and refuses to do anymore bar piloting ... until his boss (Edwin Maxwell) tricks him into doing so, and all of a sudden, everything seems to be ok again - better than ok actually, because now he finally has the nerve to ask his girlfriend Toni (Carol Thurston) to marry him.

But everything is not as ok as it seems: Mike Kalavich (Buster Crabbe), a Bayou trapper who has always been jealous of Johnny, wants Toni for himself while Janet Hilton (Virginia Grey), daughter of the local rich man P.T.Hilton (Pierre Watkin), has designs on Johnny ... and then of course disaster strikes, and on the day before Johnny's wedding as well: guiding a boat through thick fog, Johnny accidently crashes with a smaller boat he had no chance to see or hear until it was too late, which throws all of Johnny's self confidence overboard, and instead of marrying Toni the next day, he goes to town on a drinking spree that is only stopped when he is run over by a truck. Somehow, Janet Hilton is able to trace him down before everyone else and takes him back to her father's house to nurse him back to help - and shield him from everybody else, especially Toni. Once he's better, Janet persuades Johnny to work for her father ... which he does, until he learns that a) P.T.Hilton tries to cut off Bayou folks from the Bayou, their hunting grounds, and b) that Janet has thrown away the letters Toni has written to him and not put her through to him on the phone (which made him think she had forgotten him in the first place).

But before he can even get back to Toni (and his former life) disaster strikes once more, in the person of Mike Kalavich, who'd rather burn down the Bayou than leave it to P.T.Hilton ... and so he does. Eventually, Toni and Johnny realize how much they ae still in love with each other when they try to save each others life, and quite naturally, in the finale Johnny wrestles and defeats Mike Kalavich ...

Ah yeah, and Weissmuller also wrestles an aligator at some point in the film, to show some continuity to his appearances as Tarzan.


This film is remarkable for two reasons: a) it was one of the very few films in which Johnny Weissmuller played neither Tarzan nor Jungle Jim, and b) it was the first meeting of the tow former Tarzans and swimming champs Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe - with Crabbe, the less popular Tarzan clearly proving to be the better actor.

Apart from that, Swamp Fire is, while not essentially bad, pretty unremarkable, a routine low-budget Bayou drama that somehow fails to exploit its Bayou settings to full effect (probably for budgetary reasons) and has litle new or at least original to offer in respect of story or direction. The best thing to say about it is probably it's watchable.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD