52 user 44 critic

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

Passed | | Action, Adventure, Romance | 2 April 1932 (USA)
A trader and his daughter set off in search of the fabled graveyard of the elephants in deepest Africa, only to encounter a wild man raised by apes.


W.S. Van Dyke


Edgar Rice Burroughs (based upon the characters created by), Cyril Hume (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Johnny Weissmuller ... Tarzan
Neil Hamilton ... Harry Holt
C. Aubrey Smith ... James Parker
Maureen O'Sullivan ... Jane Parker
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Cutten
Forrester Harvey ... Beamish
Ivory Williams Ivory Williams ... Riano


James Parker and Harry Holt are on an expedition in Africa in search of the elephant burial grounds that will provide enough ivory to make them rich. Parker's beautiful young daughter Jane arrives unexpectedly to join them. Harry is obviously attracted to Jane and he does his best to help protect her from all the dangers that they experience in the jungle. Jane is terrified when Tarzan and his ape friends first abduct her, but when she returns to her father's expedition she has second thoughts about leaving Tarzan. After the expedition is captured by a tribe of violent dwarfs, Jane sends Cheetah to bring Tarzan to rescue them... Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The "Trader Horn" of 1932 You'll Actually Cheer (Print Ad- Pittsburgh Press, ((Pittsburgh, Penna.)) 5 April 1932) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The elephants used in the early Weissmuller films were not African but Asian elephants with African sized ears strapped on. This practice is still common because the Asian species is much more docile than the African. In later films the fake ears were abandoned altogether figuring no one would know the difference. See more »


When Jane falls in the precipice, she stays hanging in the rope, clearly in a free space. In following shots she appears with a boulder behind her. See more »


Jane Parker: What color are your eyes? Yes, I know, the color of the forest. Gray-green. I wonder what you'd look like dressed. Pretty good! You'd be a great success in London. And I believe you'd love it.
Tarzan: Love it?
Jane Parker: Or would you? Women are such fools. They'd spoil you.
Tarzan: Boy!
Jane Parker: I don't think you'd better look at me like that. You're awfully attractive. I love saying things to a man who can't understand. You don't even know what kisses are.
Tarzan: Love it!
Jane Parker: I dare say you would.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Colorized version was available... and shown on TNT See more »


Featured in De wereld draait door: Episode #4.171 (2009) See more »


Romeo and Juliet Overture
(1868) (uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Excerpt played during final scene and closing credits
See more »

User Reviews

"Me Tarzan, You Jane" Make Big Box Office
24 June 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I hadn't seen Johnny Weissmuller's debut film Tarzan The Ape Man for many years so I was struck by the fact that Neil Hamilton and Maureen O'Sullivan got first billing with Weissmuller down the opening credits in an 'introducing' category. As if no one in America, let alone the movie going public didn't know who Johnny Weissmuller was.

The fuss over swimming champion Michael Phelps is nothing compared to what Johnny Weissmuller's celebrity was like. In the Roaring Twenties when each sport seemed to have an icon that became a legend, Weissmuller was that for swimming. The records he set in the Olympics stood for many years, with today's athlete conditioning methods I can only speculate what he could do today if he were alive and in his prime.

Still Louis B. Mayer was nothing if not cautious in protecting an investment in a non-actor to be a lead in a major film. He kept Weissmuller's dialog to grunts, guttural jungle utterings, and a few choice words that Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane teaches her new jungle man toy.

With tons of footage left over from MGM's African location film of Trader Horn, Tarzan The Ape Man had all the background needed to make the film look good. It's fairly obvious that when you see shots of Neil Hamilton and Maureen O'Sullivan they're shot against a background of real natives. They never got further to Africa than Toluca Lake in the shooting.

It's also obvious that Weissmuller couldn't act at all which was why he was only given grunts and dialog of one and two words. Later on he did become a competent enough actor. But quite frankly who cared when they saw him in a loin cloth.

Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane Parker comes to Africa to visit her father C. Aubrey Smith and she finds that Smith and his partner Neil Hamilton are planning an expedition into some unexplored territory in search of the fabled elephant's graveyard. A lot of loose ivory to be picked up there without the danger of actually trying to kill the beasts. Hamilton's interested in her, but when white jungle man Tarzan rescues O'Sullivan, Hamilton doesn't have a prayer.

Tarzan The Ape Man is still an exciting adventure film even to today's more sophisticated eyes. And Weissmuller and O'Sullivan's appeal as a romantic couple is timeless.

All right so they haven't got the dialog from Romeo and Juliet, who cares?

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

2 April 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tarzan, the Ape Man See more »

Filming Locations:

Lake Sherwood, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$652,675 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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