Tarzan the Ape Man (1981) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Tuna's notes in yellow
Tarzan the Ape Man is the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs story told from Jane's point of view.
While the film has characters in common with the novel, that is where the similarity ends. Jane (Bo Derek) arrives in Africa to find her father, an adventurer, who abandoned her and her mother shortly after her birth. Dad is out to discover a fabled elephant burial ground. Jane, something of an adventurer herself, insist on going on the expedition. When bearers start getting picked off, daddy blames Tarzan, who we have heard in the distance. The bad guys are actually a whole tribe dedicated to body painting and movie villainany.
Jane and her father's party are finally captured by the body painters. The stay just long enough for a bunch of topless body painters to wash a naked Jane, then paint her white. The head of the body painters stabs daddy with an elephant tusk and is set to take her virginity when Tarzan saves the day. Jane leaves with Tarzan. (Jane had first encountered Tarzan while bathing nude earlier, so he was not a stranger when he snatched her.)
This is rated 3.1 at IMDb, which puts it in the bottom hundred films with enough votes to count. Bo received a well deserved Worst Actress Razzie for her effort. Richard Harris, as her father, was way over the top, Miles O'Keeffe as Tarzan was almost as bad as Bo, and the best performance in the film was turned in by C.J, who actually demonstrated acting ability, especially by comparison to the humans in the film. C.J. is an orangutan and played Cheetah. The film garnered many nominations, including Razzies for Worst Actress, Worst Film, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor and Worst Newcomer.
Let's look at Bo's career:
This gives her a career average of 3.6. She has been appropriately awarded for her efforts.
To be fair, I never heard her, or anyone else, claim that she could act. She has always been billed as a woman who got naked and looked great, and she did a lot of that here. But couple her usual bad performance with almost universally bad acting, a garbage script and terrible dialogue, and there isn't much here, except eye candy, both because of the nudity, and the locations.
Scoop's notes in white
The most scholarly film historians agree that there are two distinct types of films produced by John and Bo Derek:
Unfortunately, it is not clear which category Tarzan belongs to.
There are three undisputed baths:
(1) When the explorers find the "inland sea," Bo says, "I'm going to take a bath." Ka-ching.
(2) When Bo is captured by the Evil Africans, she is bathed by Evil African Women before they paint her white. (They have to - because to Africans, Bo Derek is just not white enough.)
(3) When Bo is rescued by Tarzan, she is bathed by Tarzan and a chimp, who scrub off all the evil white paint. Interestingly, the evil white paint seems to be edible, because the chimp seems to think it tastes mahvelous (right). This raises a complex set of questions about mankind's development in Africa. Did Evil Africans develop Evil Edible White Paint first, or did they start with Evil Poisonous White Paint, and later change in response to circumstances. Or did they start with Good Edible White Paint, only changing to the Evil Brand Paint after they themselves became evil? Or were they always evil? Or did the evil paint itself make them evil? These questions may never be answered because, frankly, we can't even answer the bath question.
You see, in addition to the three clearly identifiable baths, there is a scene in which Bo goes for a skinny dip behind a boat in an African river. Is this just a pleasure swim, or is she bathing? The script offers no clues, and I fear we may never know for sure, despite the dozens of Ph.D. dissertations written on the subject.
Despite Tuna's cynicism, I guess it is possible to argue that Tarzan, the Ape Man is the greatest of all John and Bo's works. Many cogent arguments have been advanced to support this assertion, the best of which are summarized in the following list:
Although Tarzan may indeed be the best of the four films, I recommend Bolero if you want to watch one. Bolero is completely fatuous, but you don't watch a Bo Derek movie for the deep existential truths. The crucial fact of the matter is that Bolero has more explicit nudity from Bo, and the DVD is a beautiful transfer. The Tarzan DVD is a bit grainy, and Bo never delivers a nice, clear, unobstructed frontal.
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