Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The original and definitive Tarzan sound movie -- following several silent films on the same subject -- stuck fairly closely to the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller was cast by MGM as the European boy who was raised by gorillas in the jungle after he and his parents were shipwrecked and his parents died. Three ivory hunters lead an expedition into the jungle hoping to find the Elephant's Graveyard. They are James Parker (C. Aubrey Smith), his daughter Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan), and her boyfriend Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton). They lose one of their servants crossing the rugged mountains, and eventually, they are ambushed by the ape man. Tarzan is heard with his lusty yell, then jumps out of the treetops and snatches away Jane. He releases her, then she saves him from the retaliation of her father and Harry. Soon she is in love with Tarzan, swinging with him through the trees and teaching him English in the famous "Me Tarzan, you Jane" exchange. This Hollywood classic set the stage for innumerable sequels and remakes and an eventual television series. ~ Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Action & Adventure, Romance, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Cyril Hume, Ivor Novello
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment


Maureen O'Sullivan
as Jane Parker
Neil Hamilton
as Harry Holt
C. Aubrey Smith
as James Parker
Doris Lloyd
as Mrs. Cutten
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Tarzan the Ape Man

Critic Reviews for Tarzan the Ape Man

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | May 16, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 28, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Very vine, er...fine Weismuller, his first, with sexy O'Sullivan Jane.

August 25, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

First and rawest of the Weismuller Tarzans

September 13, 2005
Film Journal International

The first feature-length talking version of the Tarzan series, and the best in the series.

Full Review… | June 9, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Click to read the article.

Full Review… | January 12, 2005

Audience Reviews for Tarzan the Ape Man

I thought I'd seen this before, but after watching it again, I'm not sure I've ever seen it in its entirety. I've read the first 6 books in the series, albeit many years ago, and I have to say I enjoyed them much more than this film. Naturally, the mentality of the greedy white expedition leaders sickened me. If it moves, shoot it! It reminded me so much of the redneck, hillbilly mentality of humans today. If it moves, shoot it, then drink some beers! Unfortunately, one of them managed to make it out of the jungle, while every single one of their well whipped, dark skinned pack mules got wasted. I also had to laugh at them acting in front of a screen playing a film as if they were right there. Even for 1932, I thought that was shoddy. The meat of the film was entertaining enough, with some action, a small bit of suspense, a bunch of sadistic pygmies and even some wild, white monkey romance. It was also nice to watch a film with just a touch of dialogue in my native Swahili. I guess it's all the senseless animal slaughtering that left such a bad taste in my mouth. Oh, and since when are there trapezes hanging in the trees in Africa? Ehh, extra half star 'cause it's fucking Tarzan!

The first of the famous Tarzan series starring Johnny Weissmuller is a decent movie...it isn't great, but it is decent. I liked both Weissmuller and O'Sullivan, but the pacing leaves something to be desired.

Ken Scheck

This is the first of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies. Johnny Weissmuller was the best of all actors to play Tarzan. The main reason is because he perfected the Tarzan Yell. In this movie he is still young and trim and looks the part of Tarzan perfectly. The movie has nothing to do with the original book Tarzan of The Apes. In this movie they never explain where Tarzan came from. Since this movie was made just after the transition to sound movies from the silent era, there are long stretches without any dialog or background music. The story is basically that Jane and her Father are looking for a mythical elephant's graveyard. They think it is on top of an escarpment that doesn't exist in the real world. Tarzan finds them and snatches Jane. The movie is a love story between Jane and Tarzan with a lot of action thrown in. Tarzan wrestles lions and crocodiles and at the end a giant ape. Of course the apes in both the Tarzan books and the Tarzan movies don't exist in real life. Edgar Rice Burroughs made them up. In Africa there are chimpanzees and gorillas but no large vicious man-like apes. A lot of stock footage of actual African Natives is used in the beginning of the movie. Other than that this Africa looks a lot like Southern California. Although they used baby chimpanzees for the baby apes, the adult apes are obviously people in ape suits. The crocodiles are mechanical and the elephants have fake canvas ears. For people living in the early 1930's this was a sexy exiting movie. It was good on Saturday afternoons on black and white television when I was a kid. Today the lack of dialog and the primitive sound effects in the long action scenes can get kind of boring. But the movie is a classic.

Tarzan the Ape Man Quotes

– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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