Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)

R  |   |  Adventure  |  24 July 1981 (USA)
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The Tarzan story from Jane's point of view. Jane Parker visits her father in Africa where she joins him on an expedition. A couple of brief encounters with Tarzan establish a (sexual) bond ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (characters), 1 more credit »
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2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Akushula Selayah ...
Steve Strong ...
Ivory King
Maxime Philoe ...
Leonard Bailey ...
Club Member (voice)
Laurie Main ...
Club Member (voice)
Harold Ayer ...
Club Member (voice)


The Tarzan story from Jane's point of view. Jane Parker visits her father in Africa where she joins him on an expedition. A couple of brief encounters with Tarzan establish a (sexual) bond between her and Tarzan. When the expedition is captured by savages, Tarzan comes to the rescue. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The most beautiful woman of our time in the most erotic adventure of all time. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tarzan, the Ape Man - Me Jane  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)


SEK 1,216,196 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film was controversial because of sexual content utilized in a traditional story. Bo Derek is seen having a nipple suckled by an animal, a chimpanzee. There are also a number of scenes featuring explicit topless nudity of her. It was these reasons to why the Edgar Rice Burroughs Estate allegedly sued the production of this movie. The case was lost but another litigation took place from the estate in regards to the prevention of the film being released. This case was lost too. However, apparently the estate was successful in having removed three minutes of footage deleted from the released version. See more »


The movie takes place in 1910, but at one point, James Parker sings the English hymn "Jerusalem." While the words were written by William Blake as the preface to his epic poem "Milton" in 1804, the music was not written until 1916 by C. Hubert H. Parry. See more »


Jane: Don't you know how to smile? Do you know you're more beautiful than any girl I know? Oh, you're a lot more.
See more »

Crazy Credits

On the MGM logo the MGM lion's roar is replaced with Tarzan's yell. See more »


Referenced in The Big Box: A Christmas Story (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

TARZAN, THE APE MAN (John Derek, 1981) *1/2
12 January 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

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!!

12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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