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The Naked Ape (1973)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 1 August 1973 (USA)
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Cast

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Lee
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Dennis Olivieri ...
Arnie
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Fat Woman
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Sargent
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Psychiatrist
Helen Horowitz ...
Fat Child
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Brett Parker ...
College Professor
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Taglines:

The naked ape is only human.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG
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Details

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Release Date:

1 August 1973 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Soundtracks

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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User Reviews

 
Underrated retro-gem of the Sexual Revolution
23 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's beyond me why this movie isn't better regarded, let alone hasn't been released to any home format (legally that is). Produced by Hugh Hefner's Playboy Productions--which, much as you might object to its trademark "bunny" objectifying of women--it takes the theses of Desmond Morris' pop-anthropology book and translates them into a series of pro-sex, but more importantly pro-tenderness and pro-humanism sketches.

Some are cleverly animated (in various styles), others acted out in terms that range from the satiric to the tragic. The non-cartoon segments are primarily acted out by an appealingly goofy, vulnerable if muscled-up (from his juvenile TV stardom days on "The Rifleman") Johnny Crawford, and pert young Victoria Principle. (Stills from her nude scenes here were much later exploited as bogus evidence of a past "softcore" career after she'd achieved fame in the TV series "Dallas.")

"The Naked Ape" is imagined in creative and narrative ways that would never happen again (at least with a generous budget) after the mid-70s. It's conventionally sexy/humorous on the surface. But the overriding message is that the sexes should respect one another, and that mankind's tilt toward warring, macho self-destruction is anything but "natural." It's a beautiful message, one that the film arrives at with an entirely appropriate weight of melancholy and anti-Establishment critique.

A lot of counterculture-relic features from this era have dated badly, but I think this movie--poorly appreciated in the first place--is still forward-thinking, and would earn a larger cult following (the existing one flows from "cut" early-80s TV broadcasts and bootleg videos) if it were released as a legitimate DVD. C'mon, Hugh...this was your baby once, why not let it take some long-delayed toddling steps toward the public?

(P.S.: Looking at this review a decade later, I noticed the only two other "user comments" are from one person who erroneously thinks the original book was a "novel," and the other from someone who obviously hasn't seen the movie at all. Yeesh.)


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