Tarzan the Ape Man (1981) Poster

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Who looks better naked than Bo?
SanDiego24 September 1999
Wonderful action-packed adventure full of delightful campy humor, sexy romance, and Oscar-caliber performances...HA! HA! had you going there didn't I? Come on folks! This is a Bo Derek film...Bo Bo Bolero Bo. The only reason to see one of her soft-core nudie romps is to see her romp nudie. John should have shot it as an X-rated film. Bo can't act, but she's always cute (and when isn't a perfect 10 worth watching?) For extra fun try a double feature with Tanya Roberts' "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle."
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Bo, breasts, and bloomin' idiots, and a buncha monkeys.
kynoceph1 May 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Of course this is a horrid movie, for pete's sake, it was made by John Derek, one of the worst actors ever. (He played Joshua in the Ten Commandments, and his performance there is truly laughable). Bo of course runs around topless or near topless for most of the movie, and has one expression: vacant. No one has yet mentioned Richard Harris' utterly deranged performance as Jane's dad. Harris acts as if he has drunk a case of Jack Daniels and snorted a pound of cocaine. He runs through the entire movie screaming, shouting, and gesticulating insanely, and when he's finally killed by the ALL-WHITE-PEOPLE CANNIBAL TRIBE (I kid you not) you cheer in relief. Another point of hilarity is Miles O'Keefe's pointless battle with an OBVIOUSLY COMPLETELY FAKE rubber boa constrictor. All in all a truly dreadful movie, but still not as awful as Manos: The Hands Of Fate. See it at your own risk, or only if you have an unhealthy fixation on Bo Derek's breasts.
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Very Camp
SMK-416 December 1998
This is the best film the Derek couple has ever made and if you think this is a recommendation then you haven't seen any of the others. There are the usual ingredients: it is just as poorly acted as their other efforts, we can watch Bo disrobing or auditioning for wet T-shirt contests quite frequently, the story is just laughably idiotic, and the film takes itself much too seriously. And then: Orang Utans in Africa?

But it has a few things going for it. Bo looks great, the production values (sets, costumes, etc.) are quite good, and this greatly enhances its camp value. In a strange way it is actually quite funny, simply because it tries to be serious and fails so badly.
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Beautifully Photographed and Beautiful Subject Matter
Waffle-Rama26 December 2008
Having seen "10" about a year earlier, and thinking Tarzan the Ape Man might be similarly funny and entertaining, I took the 45 minute drive from a very rural town in San Mateo County, California "over the hill" to San Carlos to see a late night showing one Friday night in 1981. There were only a few people in the theater when the show started and several left as the movie dragged on. I was bored out of my mind except when Bo Derek found herself in a situation where she could shed her clothes. From the standpoint of pure physical beauty of human form, Bo Derek was at her physical peak when her husband shot her for this film. Twenty-seven years later, I remember in vivid detail the scene of her coming out of the ocean in full-frontal nudity. A 12 or 14 foot tall image of Bo's glistening wet body strolling up and out of the blue ocean directly towards the camera, into bright sunlight is one of the most beautiful images a person could ever imagine. She is stunning and the image will be burned into my memory for the rest of my life. When VHS was available in the late 80's or early 90's, I rented a copy from RKO video and was disappointed that most of that scene had been cut. If anyone knows where an uncut version is available, I would surely enjoy reliving the experience.
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Quite possibly the worst movie ever made
skinnyjoeymerlino21 March 2007
In 1992 Miles O'Keefe told Joe Bob Briggs on TMC's "Joe Bob Briggs' Drive-In Theatre" that the audition process for the title role in John Derek's "Tarzan the Ape Man" consisted of being dressed up in a wig and a loincloth with other Tarzan wannabes and taken to a park in LA where they were told to swing around in the trees and make noise. "...and people were throwing things at us and it was--a mess! And on the basis of that that I got the part." Originally Lee Canalito got the title role, and footage was shot of him as Tarzan, but ultimately Miles O'Keefe was brought in. The orangutan who played Cheetah got taken on the publicity tour and Miles was not taken, presumably so he would not upstage Bo Derek.

After a memorable turn in Blake Edward's "10" Bo Derek settled into a brief career of movies directed by her husband John Derek as a chance to showcase his wife's boobs. "Tarzan the Ape Man" was the first of these, with Bo getting top billing as Jane, Richard Harris as Jane's father getting second, Cheetah the orangutan getting third and Miles as the title character getting fourth. Not much happens in the movie, there's mostly a lot of walking through the jungle until Bo announces "I THINK I'LL TAKE A BATH NOW". She continuously holds her index finger up to her lips for reasons not really comprehendable. Her husband's direction, according to Miles, was "Honey, get your breasts up." Richard Harris yells every line he has, Miles O'Keefe says it was because he was bored. Tarzan finally shows up halfway through, but he has no dialogue. All action scenes are done in slow motion so it ruins the effect and makes them way too long.

Despite 38 full breast exposures "Tarzan the Ape Man" is truly one of those movies that is so bad it's bad. Even people who love bad movies don't like this movie. There is no rating in this review because there is no way on IMDb to give a movie zero stars.
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A legendarily bad film
barnabyrudge4 December 2002
So, just how bad is the 1981 version of Tarzan the Ape Man? Everybody knows that it has a reputation as one of the very worst movies ever made, so when you sit down to watch it, you know it's going to be rubbish. The main element of fun is experiencing just how bad it really is. Can it really surpass Plan 9 From Outer Space? Is it as idiotic as Astro Zombies? Is it as boring as The Bible....in the Beginning? Is it as unintentionally funny as The Swarm? The answer is.... yes! This movie really is right down there with the worst twenty or so films ever made.

The story focuses more on Jane (the talentless Bo Derek), who arrives in Africa to reunite with her tyrannical, boozy, abusive father (Richard Harris). During a jungle expedition, she goes missing and is rescued by ape man Tarzan (Miles O'Keefe), only to fall in love with him.

O'Keefe is unquestionably the worst Tarzan ever, and Derek is probably the worst Jane. Richard Harris's performance is energetic and entertaining, but why he bothered to put in such a lively performance is anybody's guess. It's certainly a wasted effort.

The backdrop is nicely photographed, but then again anyone can design a nice postcard. The characters moving around in front of the scenery are so banal and idiotic that the film fails on every level. The worst moment of all is the dreary slow-motion snake wrestling sequence. Bo Derek strips off regularly, but after seeing her tits five or six times, you start to get fed up even with that.

Miss this movie at all costs. Unless you want to compile a list of the worst films ever.... if that's your aim, then this is a must!
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Absolutely the worst Tarzan film ever made
granl19 May 1999
For that matter one of the worst FILMS ever made. Plot goes as follows. Slog through jungle looking areas for 10 minutes or so. Have Bo go somewhere and strip. Slog through the jungle some more. Give Bo another excuse to strip. Back to the jungle. Oh look! There's a Tarzan looking guy! Strip, Bo - strip. Kill the safari people. Tarzan looking guy has a fight scene. Saves Bo. Bo strips. Run credits. Run credits, run.
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TARZAN, THE APE MAN (John Derek, 1981) *1/2
Bunuel197612 January 2008
Surely one of the most ill-advised remakes of a classic in film history – especially since the promise of its tag-line, “The most beautiful woman of our time in the most erotic adventure of all time”, isn’t even properly exploited! Although this film was regularly shown on TV in my neck of the woods since my childhood days, its notoriety (for awfulness not erotic content, mind you) kept me away from it until now – and I only relented because I have recently enjoyed Bo Derek’s previous film, 10 (1979), and have been watching a lot of fantasy stuff as well over the Christmas period.

Lead actress/producer Bo Derek is rather ridiculous playing the schoolgirl-ish sexual innocent (witness the inept banana scene) and, as was to be expected, she is made to get her clothes off a few times but, as welcome as these scenes were, she came off as far more sensual in 10 than she does here; Richard Harris, then, chews the scenery incessantly as Jane’s obsessed explorer father, but John Philip Law barely registers as his aide who meekly shows some initial interest in Jane herself; newcomer Miles O’Keeffe has the title role and he only makes his entrance 45 minutes into the movie, is completely silent throughout except for his famous yodel (which is probably lifted from Johnny Weissmuller anyway!) and, furthermore, is as inexpressive as one of the trees he dangles from at regular intervals throughout the film’s second half!; for the record, he later starred in two ATOR movies (or would-be CONAN imitators) for Joe D’Amato and the King Arthur-era set, SWORD OF THE VALIANT (1984).

When still an actor, director John Derek (who also serves as his own cinematographer here) had worked with some good film-makers (Cecil B. De Mille, William Dieterle and Robert Rossen) and a few great ones (Otto Preminger, Nicholas Ray and Don Siegel) but he clearly learned zilch from them as his direction of this one is a major liability: appallingly pretentious at times (witness the perfectly horrid python attack sequence) with a senseless overuse of the slow motion technique and cheesy transitions; this was Derek’s seventh film as a director (and his second of four with wife Bo) and, eventually, he would only get to make two more.

The film’s utter failure only needs to be gauged by the fact that the Tarzan legend was tackled once more on film – in GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (which, surprisingly enough, I haven’t watched myself yet) – a mere three years later!! Nominated for six Razzie Awards (including John Derek, Richard Harris and Miles O’Keeffe) and winning one for Bo Derek herself, TARZAN, THE APE MAN was co-written by Gary Goddard, the future director of another highly anticipated but ultimately disappointing transposition to the silver screen of a (this time animated) heroic figure, MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) which I will be revisiting presently as well (yay)! Despite a charming closing credit sequence showing Tarzan and Jane playing with around with an orang-utan and a music score that is not half bad actually and quite rousing on occasion, any belated good intentions are defeated by an extremely silly climax involving natives painting Bo completely white and, fatally, John Derek’s clear disinterest in the character of Tarzan himself which makes him come off as an unimportant supporting character in his own self-titled movie!!
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You Tarzan, me...necked most of the time!!!
Mitzi-26 February 1999
When I was a teen-ager seeing this film for the first time, I thought it was one of the best movies ever made. Of course, the reason for that is Bo Derek and her various states of undress in this film. However, now that I'm older, I can honestly say that this film is awful. Mind you, Bo Derek is absolutely incredibly beautiful, and she and husband-director John Derek make sure you see plenty of her. But when you take that aspect out of the film, it becomes one big dull ride. And Tarzan, well, he's all muscular like you think he should be, but when he sees Jane (that's Bo, of course) for the first time, he doesn't know what to think. This despite the fact that Bo is wearing a wet see-thru shirt, with her breast prominently displayed. Tarzan would be the only primitive man on the planet who would have that problem. If you are looking for a movie to slobber over a beautiful naked body, then this might fill the ticket. If you are looking for a thoughtful, entertaining and worth-while film, go elsewhere...almost anywhere else at that!!!
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Miles O'Keeffe made a spectacular Tarzan.
CGMCC25 March 2006
Yes the film has faults... plenty of them.

Bo Derek is the most beautiful Jane, but the worst actress of those who have played the role.

Richard Harris hams it up as usual.

The film was based around Jane and the nudity. Did you expect anything else from John & Bo Derek? BUT: Miles O'Keeffe made a spectacular Tarzan, probably second or third of all the actors; Johnny Weissmuller and possibly Gordon Scott were better. Bo is gorgeous. The jungle scenery was some of the best ever for a Tarzan picture, including the escarpment! The story up to when Jane encounters Tarzan rang true (mostly) with the books. The cinematography is excellent.

The film is a valid result of what you would get if the sexual aspects of the story were over-emphasized. Taken in that regard, it's pretty well done.
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Awwwwwwwaaaaahhheeeeaaaaaawwwwwww (Is that Tarzan hollering or the viewer screaming in agony?)
tomfarrellmedia19 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
It is a great tragedy that both Richard Harris and John Derek are no longer with us. But that shouldn't blind anybody to the fact that in 1981, a pretty ugly blotch appears on both men's CVs. No doubt John Derek conceived this movie doing for his wife what 'Some Like it Hot' and 'One Million Years BC' did for Maryln Monroe and Raquel Welsh respectively, creating an iconic sex symbol for the new decade. Having run to embrace Dudley Moore on the beach in '10' Bo's reputation, an all-star cast and location filming in Sri Lanka meant that nothing could go wrong. Alas, as they say, Mortals plan and God laughs. It is said that when this film premiered in 1981, the Edgar Rice Burrows estate tried to take legal action against it. Bo Derek plays Jane Parker who sets off into turn-of-the century Africa to be reunited with her boozy, abusive Dad, Richard Harris. Daddy Parker is an explorer who has set out to find 'the Great Inland Sea' the stuff of local legend, whose existence has been poo-pooed by conventional wisdom. Harris is worth watching for a wonderfully hammy, tanked -up performance which includes singing an Irish ditty at an Indian elephant that somehow found its way into Africa (did it arrive at the same time as the Orang-Utan from Sumatra???) Furthermore, although Jane professes to despise Parker, Bo and Rich's relationship is creepily incestuous, testimony perhaps to the effects of the tropical heat. Before long, however, local legends start to circulate about a 'Great White Ape' and Jane hears the famous yodel. This is the movie's cue for Miles O'Keefe, a future B-Movie star, making a rather odd debut as the loin-clothed Lord of the Jungle. Unlike Johnny Weismuller with his pidgin English or Ron Ely who speaks the language fluently, the O'Keefe Tarzan is mute. Given some of Bo and Richie's dialog, though, this is probably not a bad thing. Harris and his caravan eventually reaches the Great Inland Sea, located atop a gigantic plateau that seems to run halfway across Africa....hang on, aren't seas, lakes and other watery places generally located in low-lying areas?? Nevermind, it is just one of many anomalies in the John Derek universe. The crew attempt to mount the cliffs and when the ropes snap, Harris roars echoing abuse at the hapless men who have plummeted to their deaths. On another occasion, Jane decides to take a nude swim by the Inland Sea, giving another occasion to see some gratuitous nudity. Out of nowhere a single male lion appears. Now lions usually travel in prides and never go near beaches but later on, Tarzan will be wrestling with a (venomous) boa constrictor. Zoology doesn't seem to have been one of John Derek's strong points..... This being a Tarzan movie, Jane becomes enchanted with the Lord of the Jungle and resolves to take his virginity. But having seen his closeness to some of those chimps, you do have to wonder...Speaking of which, it's not only the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate could have sued. It is highly probable that certain primates were on the phone to their lawyers: the chimps here make you miss Cheeta badly. Especially when they do ridiculous things like ride on the backs of elephants and clap their hands when Tarzan and Jane finally get it on! The climax of this film has Bo and Harris captured by some rather stereotypical cannibals who paint our heroine and prepare to sacrifice/eat/execute her. Suffice is to say that The Great Wooden Ape gets his girl and *SPOILER* Harris gets himself impaled on a huge elephant tusk! This doesn't stop the dying Parker from delivering a rambling monologue to Jane. As far as I am aware, the law suit from the Rice Burrows estate never materialized but 'Tarzan the Ape Man' was crucified at the box office (no kidding?) A pity. John Derek could have directed 'Tarzan the Ape Man 2' with Bo Derek and Miles O'Keefe living in domestic bliss and Dudley Moore as 'Boy.'
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What a shame
neil-47618 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If you are married to a beautiful woman and you have Hollywood connections (if, for instance, you once used to be a second division matinée idol) then, I guess, it is not out of the question for you to give some thought to assembling some sort of vanity project movie to showcase her looks. There is a precedent for this (Pia Zadora leaps to mind, which is probably some sort of commentary on the idea in and of itself).

But, you see, the problem is that Bo Derek had already been showcased in Blake Edwards' "10", which did the job perfectly - it required her to be gorgeous, scantily (or less) dressed, and vacuous, all three of which she managed perfectly.

Then husband John Derek picked up that particular ball and ran with it, and the first place he ran to (others followed) was Tarzan, The Ape Man.

Miles O'Keefe is a perfectly serviceable Tarzan in this, his only Tarzan film. He certainly looks the part, and he runs, swings, swims, and looks mystified in all the places where he is required to do so.

The problem is that this isn't actually a Tarzan film. It isn't even a Jane film. It's a Bo Derek film.

There is some beautiful scenery and a rather perfunctory performance by Richard Harris in a slow and boring 30 to 40 minutes. And then Bo starts to get naked, a state in which she spends most of the remainder of the film both before and after Tarzan arrives on the scene.

Now I have no great objection to Bo Derek naked. Bo Derek naked is, in my shallow and superficial view, a Good Thing. The problem, though, is twofold. One, the poor girl is woefully exposed as having no acting ability whatsoever, apparently being under the impression that gently nibbling an immaculately manicured fingernail amounts to emoting (to her credit, she has made films later in her acting career in which she shows that she has worked and made progress in this area). And, two, someone forgot that a movie like this actually needs a story. There is some tosh about natives painting her white, but this is hardly a story.

So you might get some mileage out of scenery, and boobage, and poor old Miles O'Keefe's big break being a bit of a non-starter, but you can forget anything else.
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Squishy banana
onepotato219 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a re-imagining of Tarzan in the era of the Soloflex and Apocalypse Now. There's nothing inherently wrong with using films eased moral constraints to portray an erotic side to the Tarzan legend. There's nothing inherently wrong with the premise that Tarzan doesn't speak. There's plenty wrong with suggesting a woman who could get herself to an African jungle in 1910, could be this offensively stupid and plastic. Bo has as few lines as possible when bodies are explored because this movie is merely a video-centerfold, as neutral as possible so that you can project yourself and your lecherous fantasies into the project. If it succeeds anywhere it's in the implication that National Geographic has influenced the way the imagery of a Tarzan movie might be constructed.

It would be ridiculous to argue that movies shouldn't employ the sexual tease as ONE of many tools to draw in viewers. Some really great film moments incorporate it. But this move is at the opposite end of the spectrum - the tease is the only thing going on here; at the time of its release and now. You sit through awful, dumb scenes that offer no interest, and miles of footage of bad acting to drool over the next peek at either of two bodies. Yes... Bo Derek and Miles O'Keeffe are beautiful (um, congratulations on having a working libido.) but if that's your excuse for giving this schlock a good rating you really should visit a porn store and stock up. There's only a hairs-breadth difference between the two formats and (I'm just guessing here) a horny viewer would probably really enjoy the latter. The question is whether a mainstream movie is the best venue in the marketplace for viewers to seek out products that satisfy lust alone.

As a showman, John Derek successfully capitalized on the sexual mystique developed over wife Bo in the movie "10"; and created a media event out of a shallow project whose only merit was the hotness of the two leads. The movie itself was beside the point. He was about 20 years ahead of his time in thinking audiences would applaud him for making an insipid, shallow movie that was only about showcasing superficiality.

As a director, John Derek appears to require only that Mrs. Derek look pleasant, empty and hump-able in every scene. It's hideously shot. The camera placement is annoying. In terms of editing, the entire 'wipe' catalog is exhausted. The credit sequence is garish. And it's a toss-up as to who commits the worse screen offense; Bo Derek who's such a bimbo that she can't even figure out how to play a bimbo, or Richard Harris who shouts every line (as he likes to do) until you want to shoot him. At least with Bo you can imagine her blaming some horny writer for shortchanging her.
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Not as bad as they say
Wuchakk25 September 2013
I appreciate John Derek's "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1981) because it's so unique and it does inspire the awe of nature, whether scenic, animal, human or romantic. The plot of the film focuses on Jane Parker (Bo Derek), who goes to remotest Africa in search of her explorer father, James Parker (Richard Harris). She joins his party (which includes John Phillip Law) and they climb to the top of a mysterious escarpment whereupon they discover a wild white man, Tarzan (Miles O'Keeffe). Meanwhile the aborigines don't take too kindly to their encroachment.

The opening MGM emblem tips off that the film shouldn't be taken too seriously: instead of the lion's roar we get Tarzan's famous jungle yell. The movie is generally serious, but in a comic-book sort of way. There's a nice sense of awe as the party traverses through the wilderness (it was shot in Sri Lanka and the island of Seychelles, 1500 miles SW of Sri Lanka), particularly when they discover the great escarpment and, then, the fictitious inland sea.

The animals are great as well, particularly the magnificent lion, the friendly elephant who scoops up Tarzan's body and the playful chimps & orangutan. By the way, the Asian elephant and orangutan present an obvious plot hole since they're not native to Africa. Not to mention James' native babe, Africa (Akushula Selayah), since she's clearly of East Indian stock (although he might've picked her up on a different expedition). Also, the muscular dude who plays the "Ivory King" (Steve Strong) is obviously a white dude painted black. Speaking of the Ivory King, Steve Strong really hams it up with bad acting befitting of a gym rat and why does it take so long to simply wake him up?

The second act is kind of boring. It consists mostly of Jane and Tarzan getting to know each other in the jungle. There's a beauty and innocence to the scenes, even a sense of awe, but they're probably too long for the average viewer. Still, the film celebrates this aspect of the human experience much as the Song of Songs in the Bible celebrates the consummation of a man & woman with overtly erotic language (read it and see for yourself).

"Tarzan the Ape Man" is reminiscent of 1976's "King Kong" in tone. Remember the sense of awe of that film coupled with the comic booky material? Remember when Kong bathed Dwan via the waterfall and gazes on in wonder? Remember the stretched-out dramatics? This is what you get with "Tarzan the Ape Man". It's an adventure film with a lot of drama and little conventional action. When the action comes -- Tarzan vs. a huge snake and Tarzan vs. the Ivory King -- it's presented in slow-motion, which is strange and hardly thrilling. And, yet, it sets the film apart. "Tarzan the Ape Man" takes its time in telling its story; by contrast, 1998's "Tarzan and the Lost City" hurriedly jumps from one sequence to the next with hardly any room to breath. They're both Tarzan films but from two completely different approaches. I just viewed them both back-to-back and it's an interesting comparison.

Of course, "Tarzan the Ape Man" is a showcase for Bo Derek. She's a beautiful woman both inside and out, but she's not a perfect "10" in my opinion. Her physicality is indeed statuesque, but her butt is too flat and her thighs too skinny (sorry if that sounds crude; I'm just being honest).

Miles O'Keeffe LOOKS great as Tarzan, but that's it. He has zero dialog beyond Tarzan's patented yell and, worse, zero depth as a character, except that he's benign and heroic. This is disappointing because Burroughs' books presented him as highly intelligent and even a type of Yahweh (the LORD), as in "the Lord of the jungle". But the film focuses on Tarzan when he is first discovered by Europeans (when he knew how to read via kid's books, but not yet how to speak English), so this can be forgiven.

One aspect of the film is outstanding and that's Tarzan's kinship with the various animals. An excellent example is the innocent playfulness of Tarzan, Jane and the orangutan in the closing scene.

Also, Richard Harris is worthy of note because he gives the role all his heart and is convincing. Despite his constant (and loud) blathering he does have some interesting insights -- like the importance of living life to its fullest and the humility to turn to God when he's totally spent (and it works!). In other words, the film isn't just mindless adventure; it features some gems to chew on.

"Tarzan the Ape Man" was a modest hit in 1981 but, surprisingly, there was no sequel. It would've been interesting to see O'Keeffe's Tarzan develop as a character and his relationship with Jane. But maybe John and Bo accomplished everything they intended to with this film and found the idea of a sequel superfluous.

BOTTOM LINE: "Tarzan the Ape Man" is a unique Tarzan film and worth it for the sense of awe -- the marvels of nature, the amazement of animals, the beauty of the (fit) human form and the wonder of (true) sexuality.

The film runs 107 minutes.

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Watch for the end credits.
panpiper2 September 2014
This was an EXTREMELY unimpressive movie marred by, among other things, Tarzan's inability to act. However both Bo Derek and Miles O'Keeffe are EXTREMELY pleasant to look at. So when the movie was over and the end credits rolled, not a soul stirred in a fairly packed cinema, every last person sat bone still and glued to the screen throughout the whole of the end credits.

Now why one might ask would an audience do that for such an unimpressive movie? It's because Bo Derek and Miles O'Keeffe were engaged in passionate lovemaking, stark naked on the beach as a background to the whole of the credits. Most faces were at least slightly red as the lights came on and everyone could be seen as having watched the whole time.

I had to wait till everyone else had left the cinema, as my girlfriend had been wearing a sky blue cotton, skin tight shift that day. The squeal of embarrassment she let out after standing and discovering that a large patch of it had turned dark blue where it had been inconveniently moistened by her arousal, followed by her rapidly diving back into her seat, is to this day one of my favourite memories.

A one star movie is for me a movie that I walk out of. I did not walk out of this one, so that makes it at least a two star. The above however raises it's score to a three star.
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This ain't Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan!
a_chinn23 November 2017
Edgar Rice Burroughs is reduced to softcore porn. Instead of this being a story about a man who was raised by apes, it's a story about the sexual awakening of Jane, and it's a ludicrously awful awakening. "Tarzan the Ape Man" is so awful that it does achieve Ed Wood/Showgirls levels of so-bad-it's-good, which makes this film essential viewing for fans of bad cinema. Pretty, but talentless Bo Derek plays Jane. High points of camp include Tarzan pawing at Jane in a very odd early courtship scene. Aother scene has Tarzan rescuing Jane from a tribe of natives who roughly wash her and then cover her in mud, which I'm assuming director John Derek (Bo's husband) meant to be erotic. Oh, and over the end credits, Bo is pawed by a real ape, an orangutan, which I'm hoping was some sort of nod to the 70s/80s ape cycle of comedies (i.e "Every Which Way But Loose," "Going Ape," "BJ and the Bear," etc.). These scenes were all likely intended to be titillating, but similarly to "Showgirl," they are anything but. Overall, "Tarzan the Ape Man" is about as bad a film as can be made (I hope Richard Harris was paid handsomely for appearing), but it's sooooooooo bad, that it's absolutely worth watching, which is why I suppose Turner Classic Movies chose to air this unintentional laugh riot. FUN FACT! United Artists was sued by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate over the film.
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Miles O'Keeffe shows his hot a** in an interesting movie
liderc13 October 1999
Ok, the first thing that comes in my mind when thinking about this movie is the really hot actor Miles O'Keeffe, who plays Tarzan nearly naked. The rest of the movie is very interesting, for example the slow motion fighting scenes look very good. Also the dialogues are sometimes rather philosophical, something one wouldn't suspect to find in a Tarzan movie. I really liked the way the movie was done and the good actors. I can only recommend watching this movie if you don't want to see a standard silly Tarzan movie.
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A tasteless "Tarzan"...
moonspinner5517 October 2009
Muscular man-ape in the jungles of Africa is hunted by an opportunistic expedition team; the comely daughter of the team's leader finds him first. Much-ballyhooed version of the Tarzan tale has an OK production, but is crippled by the single-handedly worst direction of a film I have ever seen. John Derek is bereft of inspiration beyond cheesy slow-motion action shots and peek-a-boo glimpses of wife Bo Derek's unclothed body; he has about as much talent behind the camera as Ed Wood. Trying for tongue-in-cheek sexuality, the Dereks lack finesse, snappy timing, and taste. They have a sense of self-parody and bravura abandonment (they do throw caution to the winds), but after a promising opening it all goes to hell. Miles O'Keeffe (who possibly had marbles in his mouth the entire time) has the title role, but plays third fiddle to John Derek's ego and Bo Derek's sense of self-importance. * from ****
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Unfair rating. It depends what version you watch...
roommate_pierre15 March 2005
No, it does not deserve a 10. I am just trying to move up the unfair rating. I would give it a 5.

I a have seen this movie twice.

The first time was on a US public channel : all what makes the film interesting had been cut because of nudity. Not sexuality or suggestive nudity, no : just partial and natural nudity (exept for the last scene) of the beautiful Bo Derek. It made a boring movie that deserve a 1.5. I did actually not see it to the end.

The second time was the full version, and kept my interest to the end. Of course the scenario is known ant not deep, the actors have not much to express, the goal of the movie is elsewhere. The movie is full of poetry, beautiful scenes, is (very) gently erotic, full of natural good feelings. I would compare it with The Blue Lagoon (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080453/).
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last worst hope for American film
winner5510 September 2006
there are three kinds of bad films - the cheap, the boring, and the tasteless. the only really bad movies are boring and tasteless.

boring films are just, well, boring - if you don't leave quickly enough, you fall asleep.

tasteless films actually have their defenders; but the fact remains that they are masturbatory aids for very sick people.

only the cheap bad films are really funny, because the filmmakers wanted to make their films so desperately, they way-over-reached beyond their abilities and available resources.

Bo Derek is just naturally boring and tasteless; fortunately, fate and a lack of funds and skill redeem her by making her seem cheap as well. this film is hilarious and it may well be the last really funny-bad film ever made.

i first saw this in a theater, may god forgive me; i was laughing so hard i was rolling off my seat, and so too with most of the rest of the audience.

it's clear that Derek and her husband-promoter, conceived of this film as, partly, a satire; unfortunately, the dereks clearly lacked any of the necessary resources to pull that off; consequently, the 'satirical' element comes off as some school-girl's impression of some gay young man's impression of frank gorshin's impression of the riddler in batman trying to pretend he's robin - it doesn't fly over our heads, it has no clue where any human head might be.

on the other hand, there are some supposedly serious moments in this film - it is supposed to be an action film, remember - that are so astoundingly cheesy, one wonders if someone squirted spoiled milk in one's eye.

as for Derek's infamous tendency to reveal her breasts - i can't imagine a less erotic nudity photographic display, she is so weird looking with those broad shoulders, i can't imagine what any one ever saw in her.

as for the plot - such as it is - well, it isn't; Derek chases around Africa, and god alone knows why. then her father - Harris - pretends to act in some maniacal puppet-show, and then of course there's the hunk'o'Tarzan that seems to have wondered in from advertisement without knowing that the subject's changed - probably because he hasn't seen a script - apparently no one has.

negligible camera work, shoddy editing - if it weren't for the 3-way with the chimp, the film would be unbearable -

as it is, it's a real hoot.
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pros and cons
marktayloruk20 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Pro-Bo gets her kit off.

Con- the rest of the movie. Had it been made a bit earlier, the Medveds would have included it in their awards
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One of the worst-directed films you will ever see.
connorbbalboa17 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Bo Derek was no doubt one of the most popular young women in the late 70s and early 80s, but that was more for her sex appeal and not her acting talent, as this sorrowful pile of s**t shows.

This is basically another adaptation of the classic Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This time, however, the story is overly-sexualized with Derek doing almost nothing except posing so the camera will get a proper shot of her body, regardless of how many clothes she has on, doing some really terrible acting and speaking most of the film's worst dialogue, and eventually just ends up staying with Tarzan at the end where she will remain half-naked and getting laid by him for the rest of her life (I assure you, that's NOT every young woman's dream, especially when it comes to Tarzan).

Derek is Jane Parker, who is joining her father, played by Richard Harris, in a way where I can't tell whether he really tried but failed, was drunk, or just phoned it in, on an expedition to find an inland sea and an elephant graveyard. Along the way, she meets the king of the jungle himself and she becomes attracted to him, not because he is a man who doesn't speak and lives in the jungle peacefully with wild animals, but because she thinks he looks good. Tarzan ultimately has to prove his love to her by fighting off a bunch of native tribesmen and their chieftain, who is getting ready to make babies with Jane after she and her father are forcefully captured by his men.

I know I gave away the ending, but trust me: you'll be glad I told you before deciding to watch it. Where do I possibly begin? Well, I'll start by saying that even though the movie takes place in Africa, you constantly see Asian elephants and orangutans all over the place; that's because this movie was shot mostly in Sri Lanka, a small island off the subcontinent of India. Also, if Derek and her director husband, John, were trying to be subtle about Jane wanting to be sexually aroused by someone like Tarzan, they failed so miserably. In one scene where she's talking with Tarzan about being a virgin, she's peeling a banana. Really, Jane? You had to be that obvious? Additionally, I'd like to say that it's obvious why people criticize excessive nudity in films; it can distract people from the story (especially if the story is bad).

The direction is just some of the worst I've seen yet in a movie. In one scene where Tarzan is saving Jane from a python, the film suddenly goes slow-motion and the film goes all over the place, so much so that I can't tell what's happening with Tarzan, Jane, or the python. In fact, a good deal of the action is in slow-motion and it gets tedious and extremely boring. Did John Derek think that it would be a good way to keep tension up? It takes more effort than that. Additionally, Tarzan, played blandly by Miles O' Keefe, makes no sound throughout the movie except for the famous Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan calls, which are used over and over and over again to the point where you get sick of it. The music ranges from o.k. to mediocre, to bad, to just plain cheesy.

The dialogue is trashy too, and the acting makes it even more cringe- worthy. It can be contradictory too; at one point, Harris's James Parker remarks how strong a girl Jane is when he and his group are looking for her. Sorry, James, but your daughter is quite the weakling: she's been kidnapped by the king of the jungle, can't even pet a dog without falling into the water, and later she gets stripped naked and gets scrubbed down, and later painted white in a ceremony (I guess) where the chieftain will make babies with her. The situations surrounding the dialogue don't make sense either. When Jane asks him to tell her a story as she's being painted, he starts reciting Humpty Dumpty. No comment on that.

I could go on and on about everything wrong with this movie, but that would take more than a thousand words, so I'll end with this: Tarzan the Ape Man with Bo Derek is trash; trash that even fans of Bo Derek's sex appeal should skip. Let me reach out to those fans: seeing ten minutes of Bo Derek nude and wearing revealing outfits every other time does not mean you are watching a good movie.
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bad cheese
SnoopyStyle18 April 2016
It's 1910. Jane Parker (Bo Derek) travels to Africa to join his estranged father James Parker (Richard Harris) and his expedition. He had left her mother when she was young. Harry Holt is his assistant and 'Africa' is his native girlfriend. Jane encounters Tarzan and the Lion on the beach. Later, she is taken by him from the caravan. Eventually, everybody is captured by native savages and Tazan comes to the rescue.

This is bad. The writing is clunky and slow as heck. There is limited action in most of the movie and it is almost always done poorly. It is so bad that there is no tension anywhere. Bo Derek is a voluptuous sex statue but she's a bad actress. The problem is that this depends on her to do some actual dramatic acting. She is a great prop, but she can't shoulder a whole movie herself. Richard Harris has his presence but he can't save this. There are some select animals from the local zoo. The lion actually made a charge at the lead actors which is probably the movie's biggest shocking moment. This is a very thin boring weakly-written soft-core porn version of Tarzan.
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Gorgeous, innocent erotica.
Falconeer11 September 2014
Another one of those misunderstood films, that received a bunch of criticism, for all the wrong reasons. John Derek's "Tarzan, the Ape Man" was never meant to be a typical entry in the Tarzan genre, but rather this is pure erotic fantasy, from a woman's perspective. Rather than focus on Tarzan, this version of the tale focuses on Jane, her fears, and her desires. Beautifully photographed on location in Sri Lanka and the Seychelles, and featuring one of the most classically beautiful women of all time, Bo Derek, this film is a real treat for the senses. Leave your brain at the door, because "Tarzan, the Ape Man" isn't exactly an intellectual tour de force. What John Derek has created here, is the ultimate piece of escapist cinema. Much like his "Bolero," also featuring wife Bo Derek, this movie is very similar to the romantic novels written by women, for women, years ago. This is reminiscent of the classic romance novel "The Sheik," as it deals with a naive but adventurous woman, who is swept away by a man who society considers a "dangerous savage," a man who should repel, but instead fascinates. The problem with these films, is that they seldom find their right audience; men will flock to a movie like this, wanting to see a naked, beautiful woman in sexual situations, but they see the romance as silly and unrealistic. And of course, modern women might easily be offended by the portrayal of a heroine that is weak, and dependant on a man. Even though Jane is hardly weak, and for a woman from 1910, she really goes after her own dream, with unbridled passion. This movie is worth a look for it's sheer visual beauty, and to witness the on screen coupling of what is perhaps, the most physically perfect woman and man to ever grace the silver screen. Highly recommended for fans of erotic and escapist fantasy. As far as the classic Tarzan novels that this material is based on, this movie stays surprisingly faithful to the source material in many ways.
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Bo Derek Is Jane
AaronCapenBanner3 December 2013
John Derek(Bo's husband) directed this explicit adaptation of the often filmed Edgar Rice Burroughs story that indeed stars Bo Derek as Jane Parker, who goes to Africa to locate her missing father James(played by Richard Harris) and does find him, but also discovers Tarzan(played by Miles O'Keefe) an ape man who was raised by apes as a baby(so the story goes) and has become one of them, though he has an immediate attraction to Jane, and her to him, much to the anger of James, who wants to kill him, but when a hostile tribe kidnaps them for sacrifice, it's Tarzan to the rescue... Inept film makes little narrative sense, but it is the stunningly beautiful Bo Derek that is the attraction here, which isn't enough to redeem film, but does make her scenes watchable.
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