52 user 44 critic

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

Passed | | Action, Adventure, Romance | 2 April 1932 (USA)
2:44 | Trailer
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


You Will Hail It As The Year's Biggest Screen Thrill! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Tarzan's distinctive call was either created by sound recordist Douglas Shearer from various sounds, or it was indeed Johnny Weissmuller doing the yell himself. Co-star Maureen O'Sullivan insisted throughout her life that it was Weissmuller doing the yell without any technical assistance. Johnny Weissmuller explained on the Mike Douglas show that he was the one that did the yell, which he did on the show. See more »


When Jane and Harry are saying good-bye, they are very close to each other, and she puts her right hand on his right hand. In the following shot they are a little way from each other and then he takes her hand and kisses it. See more »


Jane Parker: Are these - pygmies?
Harry Holt: No, they're dwarfs.
See more »

Alternate Versions

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


Spoofed in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) See more »


Voo-Doo Dance
Music by George Richelavie
Arranged by Paul Marquardt & Fritz Stahlberg
Played during main title
See more »

User Reviews

Johnny Weissmuller Swings Into Action
12 September 2009 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

English explorer C. Aubrey Smith (as James Parker) leads an expedition into Africa's jungles, to find ivory in a legendary elephant graveyard. Spunky daughter Maureen O'Sullivan (as Jane) insists on going along, despite the danger; she is looking for a more savage lifestyle. Handsome Neil Hamilton (as Harry Holt), Mr. Smith's partner, falls in love with Ms. O'Sullivan, but finds unexpected competition from likewise handsome, but loin-clothed, Johnny Weissmuller (as Tarzan). Raised by monkeys, Mr. Weissmuller gets the urge to mate, when he sees O'Sullivan.

This was the first "Tarzan" film starring Weissmuller, O'Sullivan, and "Cheetah" the chimpanzee; and, by the time the movie ends, they are obviously "going places" (in the Tarzan film series). A handsome and muscular swimming star, Weissmuller makes a perfect Tarzan. While showing less skin, O'Sullivan give the film its considerable sex appeal; especially when she tears her dress to mop Weissmuller's brow, goes swimming, and has Tarzan tickle her feet.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' story of survival is downplayed in favor of the novel's sexual fantasy. And, it works like a charm. "Tarzan the Ape man" was not only a great Tarzan film, but also an excellent early "talkie". Of course, there is some silliness included (this was 1932). Director W.S. Van Dyke, film editors Ben Lewis and Tom Held, and photographers Harold Rosson and Clyde De Vinna excel. The film is briskly directed, tightly edited, and nicely photographed.

******** Tarzan the Ape Man (3/25/32) W.S. Van Dyke ~ Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, C. Aubrey Smith

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 52 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






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 »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed