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The World's Greatest Athlete (1973)

A down on his luck coach travels to Africa where he spots the world's greatest athlete - a white Tarzan-type. The coach brings him back to the U.S. of A. to compete.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Milo Jackson
Coach Sam Archer
Mrs. Petersen
Danny Goldman ...
Leopold Maxwell
Games spectator
Liam Dunn ...
Dr. Winslow
Dean Bellamy
Dr. Gottlieb
Howard Cosell ...
Himself - Announcer
Himself - Announcer


Coach Archer is has not won anything in any sport that his school has participated during his tenure. Now the head of the Alumni Association, who was one of the people who endorsed him for the job, feels like Archer is making him look bad. He then tells him that this coming season is the last on his contract and will be his "last" unless he turns things around. He and his assistant, Milo go to Africa for a little vacation. While there they discover a man named Nanu, who grew up in the jungle after his missionary parents died, and who is also by all aspects the greatest athlete in the world. And if Archer can get him back to the States, he can save his job. However, Nanu is happy where he is. So Archer tricks him into doing an act by jungle law obligates him to be with Archer. When they arrive Archer gets him into the school and gets him a tutor, Jane. The two of them fall for each other the moment they meet each other. This does not make Leopold, her former boyfriend, very happy, so ... Written by <rcs0411@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He's a winner...he's a swinger...he's DYNAMITE! See more »


G | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

14 February 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nanou, fils de la jungle  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Star Jan-Michael Vincent was aged around twenty-seven years old when this movie was made and released. See more »


Bengal tiger's are from India not Africa. See more »


Gazenga: My country is currently investing to attract more Doctors.
Interviewer: In research facilities?
Gazenga: No, Golf Courses.
See more »


Referenced in NCIS: Jack Knife (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

"Me Nanu.......You Jane"
24 April 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

When Coach John Amos and his assistant Tim Conway go looking for athletic talent for Merryvale College, they say they'll travel anywhere. And in The World's Greatest Athlete they go to East Africa in search of a legendary jungle boy raised in the wild whose athletic prowess is beyond belief.

The subject of their search is Jan-Michael Vincent who plays the young Tarzan like man and he's every inch the athlete that former Tarzans like Johnny Weissmuller, Glenn Morris, and Buster Crabbe were. They have to use a little trickery to get him out of the jungle and away from his foster father, witch doctor Roscoe Lee Browne. Browne knows all the jungle remedies, but he's lived in the world outside the Kenyan veld and he's up to its challenges.

But he's still got concern for his foster son who ain't used to civilization and all the things that entails. Among which include women in the person of shapely Dayle Haddon who covers him on the academic end of things at college. Talk about remedial education though, this is really stretching it.

She's also got a jealous suitor in Danny Goldman. Goldman's a little ferret of a schemer, the would be Iago sends for Browne from Kenya to work his voodoo magic to get Vincent back to the woodland wilds and a clear path for Goldman back to Haddon. If that means him losing the big NCAA track meet where Vincent is going to represent Maryvale in all events like Jim Thorpe did years ago for Carlisle, so be it.

Jan-Michael Vincent looks just fabulous in a loin cloth. I'm surprised he never was cast in a straight out Tarzan film. He actually did appear in one years later when he was much older and the bad guy in that one. Of course he just had to utter "Me Nanu.......You Jane" to Haddon whose character name of course was Jane.

Vincent and Haddon get great support from the whole cast, especially Tim Conway who has to deal with being shrunk to three inches in height by Browne in a bar. Conway gets a nice fifteen minute sequence trying to deal with his unfamiliar surroundings. Nancy Walker has a fine bit as a Mrs. Magoo landlady who can't recognize a tiger that Vincent has brought from Africa as a pet. He must have gotten him from the zoo in Mombasa because as most kids know, tigers aren't native to Africa.

This was the final feature film appearance of Billy DeWolfe who plays the dean of the college and Goldman's uncle. I suspect he would have had more of a role had health permitted it.

The World's Greatest Athlete is one of Disney's better screen comedies for the Seventies. And as we learn in the end, Jan-Michael Vincent might not just be The World's Greatest Athlete.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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