APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 3: Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)

Oh no, more Bo.

Marketed with the tagline “Unlike any other Tarzan you’ve ever seen!,” this was written by Tom Rowe and Gary Goddard, who would go on to direct Masters of the Universe. Goddard had originally been hired to write a screenplay based upon the Marvel Comics character Dazzler for Bo.

And of course, this being a John and Bo Derek movie, there were issues.

As soon as MGM announced the studio was making a Tarzan film with them, Warner Bros. complained, as they were developing a Tarzan film with Robert Towne called Greystoke. Maybe they had a point, as they had the rights to the character from the Burroughs estate. MGM argued that the Dereks would be remaking 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man, which they had the right to do, as they had released another remake in 1959. The Burroughs estate responde by suing MGM before a single frame was shot.

The original actor cast in the Tarzan role, Lee Canalito, had injured his knee, making him need a stuntman. That stuntman had to undergo an emergency appendectomy, so Canalito quit or was fired five weeks into shooting and the second stunt double, Miles O’Keeffe, debuted in the title role. You may know him as Ator or the Green Knight in Cannon’s astounding Sword of the Valiant.

Somehow, Richard Harris was in this, playing James Parker, the hunter father of Jane (Bo), who gets lost in Africa searching for a mythical white ape. James wants to capture this ape — who is Tarzan — dead or alive. Hey look! John Phillip Law is in this!


The natives, led by Ivory King (Steve Strong, the former tag team partner of Jesse “The Body” Ventura), kidnap Jane and tie her up nude, which is pretty much John Derek’s id on full display. They also kill her dad.

So Tarzan saves her then they make sweet, sweet jungle love. And a chimpanzee — played by CJ, who was Clyde in Any Which Way You Can — sucks on Jane’s nipple because hey, John Derek.

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

See why Playboy calls Bo Derek the sexiest Jane in Tarzan history!

The Lord of the Apes goes ape for Bo Derek!

Yeah, OK.

Anyways, here’s the William Castle-level BS. Maybe.

During a scene involving Jane attempting to get away from Tarzan, Miles O’Keeffe found himself face-to-face with Neal, a full grown African lion, who protected Derek. In fact, Nea was a method actor and nearly went after O’Keeffe for real.

Now, I am not sure I believe this, except that Neal was also in Roar and everyone involved is lucky that they weren’t mauled.

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