Friday, August 8, 2014

Tarzan the Ape Man (1959)

How bad is it? It takes "cheap" to a new level.
Should you see it? Sure, if you can find it.

I haven't seen this since the 1981 Tarzan movie with Miles O'Keeffe and Bo Derek (and an orangutan on the wrong continent) came out and a local TV station played all the Tarzan films in their library. This isn't the worst Tarzan movie (maybe bottom 5), but it is the most entertainingly bad one. First of all, they must've worried that they wouldn't get permission to use the Tarzan name, because it's never used in the film. Much of the film is recycled footage from the 1933 Tarzan the Ape Man, Tarzan and His Mate and King Solomon's Mines, which were color tinted from black and white to try to match the new footage - unsuccessfully. The plot once again has outsiders looking for the elephant's graveyard discovering the ape man. The score is incongruous; Shorty Rogers' jazz is great, but doesn't belong in the jungle. The acting by newcomer Denny Miller is poor, but that by Cesare Denova and other veterans is no better. The pygmy tribe is played by LA high school students, all too tall to be pygmies. There's a village burned with superimposed fire. The best scene has Miller fighting an obvious toy stuffed tiger; it rivals Bela Lugosi's wrestling an octopus in Bide of the Monster.

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