Tarzan, the Ape Man

Released 1981


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Movie Summary

John Derek
Tarzan, the Ape Man stars Bo Derek as Jane in this 1981 adaptation of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs tale about modern civilization colliding with wild, primal humans, and the power of love between cultures. The original novel was titled Tarzan of the Apes and focused on a man raised among apes without any human contact. He has adventures in the jungle and disputes with his gorilla family, and one day he learns of other humans and leaves the jungle. This adaptation chooses to focus on Jane, the beautiful young woman brought to the jungle by her hunter father, James Parker. James is there to hunt the mythical "white ape," prompting Tarzan to kidnap Jane out of self-defense. As James Parker tries to save his daughter, Jane begins to wonder if she wants to be saved, or if she's happier living in the wild with this free spirit, Tarzan. The film is directed by John Derek and stars Richard Harris as Tarzan. Tarzan, the Ape Man is a new take on an old standard, a primal love story full of adventure and romance.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 63

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Of course it's completely ridiculous, but at the same time it has a certain disarming charm.

  • 12

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

    TARZAN The Ape Man, in which Bo Derek (the 10 of 10) is Jane to newcomer Miles O'Keeffe's mute Tarzan (his chests are bigger than hers), takes 45 minutes to get to the reasons the ...

  • 12

    The Associated Press

    But 2 1/2 hours? No way, not without a decent script and good acting. Miss Derek is supposed to be portraying Jane as a free-spirited and sensuous woman, but whenever she opens her...

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Action & Adventure


sex sells, fantastic adventure, campy, man vs. nature, controversial