Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes


2h 10m 1984

Brief Synopsis

The legendary jungle king tries to adjust to life in British high society.

Film Details

Also Known As
Greystoke, la légende de Tarzan, seigneur des singes, Greystoke: La leyenda de Tarzán, Greystoke: Legenden om Tarzan, apornas konung, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Period
Nature
Adaptation
Release Date
1984
Production Company
Completion Bond Company Inc; Optical Film Effects; Technicolor; Warner Bros. Pictures; Wea Records
Distribution Company
Columbia-Emi-Warner; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group; Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Location
Cameroon; England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m

Synopsis

Tarzan, a lost child of an aristocratic British family, is found in the jungle by a team of explorers who find him living with the apes. He is sent back to England to be civilized and prepared for the mantle of heir apparent. Yet, despite his love for Lady Jane and a tender bond with his grandfather, he can't fight the thoughts that his home truly lies in the wilderness with apes who raised him.

Cast

Ralph Richardson

Sixth Earl Of Greystoke

Christopher Lambert

John Clayton/Tarzan Lord Of The Apes

Andie Macdowell

Miss Jane Porter

Ian Holm

Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot

James Fox

Lord Esker

Cheryl Campbell

Lady Alice Clayton

Paul Geoffrey

Lord Jack Clayton

John Wells

Sir Evelyn Blount

Nigel Davenport

Major Jack Downing

Ian Charleson

Jeffson Brown

Nicholas Farrell

Sir Hugh Belcher

Richard Griffiths

Captain Billings

David Suchet

Buller

David Endene

Boat Captain

Tristam Jellinek

White

Roddy Maude-roxby

Olivestone

Hilton Mcrae

Willy

Paul Brooks

Reverend Stimson

Colin Charles

Olly

Bridget Biargi

Dinner Party Lady

Elaine Collins

Ruby

Sheila Latimer

Duchess

Eric Langlois

Tarzan--Age 12

Daniel Potts

Tarzan--Age 5

Tali Mcgregor

Tarzan--Age 6 Months

Alison Macrae

Jane--Age 5

Andrea Miller

Governess

Ravinder

Dean

Ann Scott-jones

Lady Dinner

Harriet Thorpe

Iris

Emile Abossolo-m'bo

D'Arnot'S Bearer

Philemon Blake Andhoua

Aloo

Messanga Messanga

Belcher'S Bearer

Atangana Messi

Kulonga

Jean Mingele

Downing'S Bearer

Ali Mvondo

Blount'S Bearer

Emanuelle Obeya

Beaten Boy

Jacobin Yarro

Riverbank Chief

Elliot W Cane

Silverbeard--Primate Father

Ailsa Berk

John Alexander

White Eyes--Primate Leader

Christopher Beck

Droopy Ears--Tarzan'S Childhood Friend

Mak Wilson

Figs--Tarzan'S Follower

Rona Brown

Georgia Clarke

Tessa Crockett

Francis D'arcy

David Forman

Toh Koksum

Eugene Little

Tina Maskell

Dougie Mann

Rory Mitchell

Martin Pallot

Deep Roy

Kiran Shah

Martin Scully

Philip Tan

George Yiasoumi

Glenn Close

Voice Of Miss Jane Porter

Crew

John Alcott

Dp/Cinematographer

John Alcott

Director Of Photography

Michael Austin

Screenwriter

Elaine Baker

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Rick Baker

Costume Design (Primate)

Rick Baker

Special Makeup Effects

Roy Baker

Sound Editor

Doug Beswick

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Luigi Boccherini

Music Extract

Marie-therese Boiche

Production Coordinator (Cameroon)

Simon Bosanquet

Production Manager

Don Brown

Video Operator

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Source Material (From Novel)

Terry Busby

Sound Editor

Greg Cannom

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Stanley S. Canter

Producer

Simon Channing-williams

Assistant Director

Jimmy Chipperfield

Animal Consultant

Robin Clarke

Sound Editor (Music)

Murray Close

Stills

Anne V. Coates

Editor

Ray Corbett

Assistant Director

Stuart Craig

Production Designer

Eugen D'albert

Music Extract

Susan D'arcy

Publicist

Norman Del Mar

Additional Music Conductor

Norman Dorme

Art Direction

Nic Ede

Wardrobe Supervisor

Edward Elgar

Music Extract

Peter Elliot

Choreography (Primates)

Paul Engelen

Makeup Supervisor

Frank Ernst

Unit Production Manager (Cameroon)

Gunnar Ferdinandsen

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Terry Forrestal

Riding Stunts

Roger Fouts

Primate Consultant

Dave Garrett

Costume Maker

John Gorham

Title Design

Bernard Hanson

Location Manager (Scotland)

Graham V Hartstone

Sound Rerecording

Tom Hester

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Joan Hills

Makeup

Simon Holland

Art Direction Supervisor

Hugh Hudson

Producer

Peter Hutchinson

Special Effects Supervisor

Steve Johnson

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Jack T Knight

Special Effects Editor

Peter Kohn

Location Manager (Cameroon)

William Lang

Location Manager (United Kingdom)

Nicolas Lemessurier

Sound Rerecording

Archie Ludski

Sound Editor (Dialogue)

Gordon K. Mccallum

Sound Rerecording Supervisor

Shawn Mcenroe

Special Makeup Effects Assistant

Douglas Milsome

Camera Operator

Ann Mollo

Set Decorator

John Mollo

Costume Design

Patrick Moore

Assistant Editor

Diana Moseley

Primate Wardrobe Supervisor

George Mossman

Other

Doug O'neons

Camera Operator

Kieron Phipps

Assistant Director

Patsy Pollack

Casting

Dreas Reynecker

Other

Mary Richards

Other

Barry Richardson

Hairstyles

Shirley Russell

Costume Design (Andie Macdowell)

Roy Scammell

Stunt Arranger

John Scott

Music Conductor

John Scott

Music

Ivan Sharrock

Sound Recording

Rodger Shaw

Other

Garth Thomas

Associate Producer

Paul Tivers

Assistant Director

Charles Torbett

Props

Robert Towne

Screenwriter

Maggie Unsworth

Script Supervisor

John Warrack

Music Director

Joan Washington

Vocal Coach

Albert Whitlock

Special Visual Effects

Les Wiggins

Sound Editor

Ken Withers

Camera Operator 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Egil Woxholt

Camera Operator 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Michael Zimbrich

Assistant Director

Film Details

Also Known As
Greystoke, la légende de Tarzan, seigneur des singes, Greystoke: La leyenda de Tarzán, Greystoke: Legenden om Tarzan, apornas konung, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Period
Nature
Adaptation
Release Date
1984
Production Company
Completion Bond Company Inc; Optical Film Effects; Technicolor; Warner Bros. Pictures; Wea Records
Distribution Company
Columbia-Emi-Warner; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group; Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Location
Cameroon; England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m

Award Nominations

Best Adapted Screenplay

1984

Best Makeup

1984

Best Supporting Actor

1984
Ralph Richardson

Articles

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes


The big-budget, elaborate production Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) found its way to the screen only after an extended pre-production period which saw a studio take control of a highly-regarded script which had become legendary among Hollywood insiders. The studio in question, Warner Bros., turned the project over to a then-hot director who amplified the pretentions of the script; the resulting film, though containing some remarkable individual scenes, photography and performances, pleased few. Particularly dismayed were fans of the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan and one of the most popular writers of pulp fiction in the early 20th Century. As a key indicator of the non-pulpy and even lofty pretentions of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, it should be noted that the word "Tarzan" is never once uttered during the film.

Greystoke began as the dream project of famed screenwriter Robert Towne. He had come up through the informal "Roger Corman School" of filmmaking, writing and/or acting in several Corman productions ranging in quality from the slapdash Puerto Rican-filmed quickie Last Woman on Earth (1960) to the stylish and widely praised Poe adaptation The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). Towne would later pen such iconic 1970s screenplays as The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), and Shampoo (1975) in addition to being one of the most in-demand "script doctors" of the 1970s. His intent with Greystoke was to fashion the definitive Tarzan picture, ingeniously told largely from the point-of-view of the apes. Towne was known to have been working on the script even before Chinatown was finished, and had been thinking about it for years even before that. By 1977 the property was officially in pre-production at Warner Bros. with Towne directing, and he and his proposed director of photography, Michael Chapman, scouted locations in Africa.

Peter Biskind, in the scathing but well-researched bestseller Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, wrote that Towne had been warned by his friend Warren Beatty that the studio would never entrust a $30 million project to a first-time director. Yet, it seemed as if they would, in spite of the fact that Towne's script ran to 240 pages and he could never seem to finish writing the last act. In 1980, Towne was completely distracted by another project, but Warner Bros. felt that this smaller project would provide the writer with directing experience before he tackled the larger jungle epic. Unfortunately for Towne, Personal Best (1982), the "small" $7 million picture dealing with female Olympic hopefuls, had gone wildly over schedule and over budget - to $16 million. Towne had been held responsible for the overage, and according to Biskind he sold the Greystoke script outright to Warner Bros. in order to finish Personal Best; (in typical Hollywood fashion, accounts vary and afterward lawsuits flew between Towne, producer David Geffen, and the studio over the particulars).

Warner Bros. gave Towne's script to British director Hugh Hudson, who had helmed Chariots of Fire (1981) to a Best Picture Oscar®. In turn, Hudson brought on scriptwriter Michael Austin (The Shout [1978]) for a major rewrite. The new script retained much the original's approach to the society of apes that raise the orphaned Tarzan, but greatly elaborates on the manor house settings of the elder Greystoke family; the non-jungle scenes end up comprising more than half of the final film. (Famously, Towne had his name taken off the credits and replaced with the name of his pet sheepdog). Hudson assembled a stellar cast, including Sir Ralph Richardson as the Sixth Earl of Greystoke (it would be Richardson's last film and he won a posthumous Oscar® nomination as Best Supporting Actor); Ian Holm as D'Arnot, the Belgian explorer who discovers the ape man; and model Andie MacDowell as Miss Jane Porter (MacDowell's Southern accent was hidden beneath uncredited dubbing by Glenn Close). As the adult Tarzan, Christopher Lambert turns in a sensitive, yet athletic and versatile performance; most actors previously cast in the famous role occupied it for a series of films and it is a shame that Lambert was not able to reprise it himself.

Director Hudson also elicited superior performances from the many apes on view in Greystoke, all of whom (except for a few baby chimps) were played by humans. Early on in preproduction, it was decided to have actors play the ape society because of the many specific actions required, as well as for safety concerns. American makeup artist Rick Baker was the logical choice to realize the many apes required. Baker had created any number of werewolves, aliens, melting men, and old-age makeups for movies since the early 1970s, and his previous ape-related jobs included Schlock (1973), Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong (1976), and the incredibly expressive "Sidney" in The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981). For Greystoke, Baker relocated to England for a year, setting up his workshop in Stage 5 of the EMI Elstree Studios. With a fifty-person crew, along with another forty wigmakers, Baker's workshop became an ape-suit factory able to turn out numerous finished suits in assembly-line fashion, each taking about eight weeks total. The suits were far from identical, however, because the requirements of the script dictated that several of the apes had to be distinguishable as characters, and, in a few cases, even age over time. Baker said (in Cinefex magazine, issue 16 - April 1984), "We went for a fictitious kind of ape - not a chimp and not a gorilla, but some lean more in one direction or the other. That's what was fun. I could draw what I liked from different apes and combine them according to what seemed to fit the character. Kala, Tarzan's ape-mother, is more like a chimp, though her ears are smaller. White Eyes, a mean one, is closer to a gorilla. Figs, a big fat one, has a lot of orang in him."

While the Baker team was busy manufacturing ape suits, another group of athletically-inclined actors, gymnasts, and circus performers trained eight hours a day for several months to play the apes. Stage 7 at Elstree was their workout gym with ramps, mock trees and limbs, and nets for falls. Peter Elliott choreographed all of the ape movements, and also played "Silverbeard" - one of the key simian roles of the film. The ape suits were so thorough, the actors had arm extensions that could be adapted for walking, hanging, or grasping as the scene required. Baker said, "Even locked, the arm extensions looked a lot better than if they weren't wearing any, because they forced the actors to walk like an ape. Plus, they could even hang from them. We had a metal armature at the fingers that could hook around tree limbs so they could actually support their own weight."

The final budget for Greystoke reached an enormous $46 million, roughly $7 million of which was taken up by the ape makeup and effects alone. Hudson turned in a cut of the film that ran to three hours, and Warner Bros. had originally intended to release it as their prime Christmastime offering of 1983. The studio held four previews and the audience reaction caused a delay as the film was held back for drastic recutting. Shortened by more than forty minutes, the film was finally released in March of 1984. Most critics were less than kind. In New York Magazine, David Denby writes that "One comes out of Greystoke oohing and aahing over the photography because there's little else to get excited about. The director, Hugh Hudson, is a great setter-up of shots, but he can't produce a complete sequence that has dramatic rhythm or even simple continuity...This Tarzan movie is informed by stern anthropological-zoological seriousness. The higher primate prevails in a bloody Darwinian struggle in the jungle; then, transported to society, he suffers the humiliations of civilization. Miserable everywhere, his existence is tragic - apes and men keep dying in his arms." Pauline Kael complained that "The director Hugh Hudson brings his unique mixture of pomposity and ineptitude to this expensively mounted version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs material...In the film's second half, Hudson twists the story into knots in order to deliver his 'statement' that apes are more civilized than people; the movie simply loses its mind, and dribbles to a pathetically indecisive conclusion."

Meanwhile, Vincent Canby of the New York Times offered one of the few positive reviews, calling the film "the season's most unexpected, most invigorating surprise," and "unusually intelligent and serious entertainment." Canby contradicts the majority opinion when he asserts that "...there's not a dull moment in the film. However, there are indications at times that the original footage has been truncated, which sometimes results in major scenes being played without a proper buildup. These aren't reservations, but observations. Greystoke is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable films of its kind I've ever seen." At Time magazine, Richard Schickel also touted the film, saying "...much of Greystoke is very good, a tender, thoughtful and pictorially beautiful working out of the themes that were implicit in Edgar Rice Burroughs' original conception..." Schickel goes on to misrepresent the intentions of Burroughs, stating that the pulp writer had on his mind "...nothing less than the creation of a mythic figure who would encapsulate the Edwardian age's anguish over the way the virtues of the primitive life were being trampled by the irresistible march of industrialism and imperialism."

Michael Mayo, in the genre magazine Cinefantastique had the harshest words for the film, calling it "...one of the most inept, dull, witless and dismal genre productions to come out in a long time; a veritable Heaven's Gate [1980] of fantasy/adventure films, gutted of its fantasy and with precious little adventure left." Mayo points out that "the Tarzan books weren't meant to be explorations of modern angst or alienation; Burroughs' Tarzan never once doubts himself or the superiority of the jungle and its codes to man's civilization." The ending of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes hinted strongly that the story would continue, but unlike most previous filmed takes on the character, there would be no follow-ups for this Tarzan.

Producer: Stanley S. Canter, Hugh Hudson
Director: Hugh Hudson
Screenplay: P.H. Vazak, Michael Austin (writers); Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel)
Cinematography: John Alcott
Art Direction: Norman Dorme, Simon Holland
Music: John Scott
Film Editing: Anne V. Coates
Cast: Ralph Richardson (The Sixth Earl of Greystoke), Ian Holm (Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot), James Fox (Lord Charles Esker), Christopher Lambert (John Clayton/Tarzan, Lord of the Apes), Andie MacDowell (Miss Jane Porter), Cheryl Campbell (Lady Alice Clayton), Ian Charleson (Jeffson Brown), Nigel Davenport (Major Jack Downing), Nicholas Farrell (Sir Hugh Belcher), Paul Geoffrey (Lord John 'Jack' Clayton)
C-137m.

by John M. Miller

Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

The big-budget, elaborate production Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) found its way to the screen only after an extended pre-production period which saw a studio take control of a highly-regarded script which had become legendary among Hollywood insiders. The studio in question, Warner Bros., turned the project over to a then-hot director who amplified the pretentions of the script; the resulting film, though containing some remarkable individual scenes, photography and performances, pleased few. Particularly dismayed were fans of the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan and one of the most popular writers of pulp fiction in the early 20th Century. As a key indicator of the non-pulpy and even lofty pretentions of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, it should be noted that the word "Tarzan" is never once uttered during the film. Greystoke began as the dream project of famed screenwriter Robert Towne. He had come up through the informal "Roger Corman School" of filmmaking, writing and/or acting in several Corman productions ranging in quality from the slapdash Puerto Rican-filmed quickie Last Woman on Earth (1960) to the stylish and widely praised Poe adaptation The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). Towne would later pen such iconic 1970s screenplays as The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), and Shampoo (1975) in addition to being one of the most in-demand "script doctors" of the 1970s. His intent with Greystoke was to fashion the definitive Tarzan picture, ingeniously told largely from the point-of-view of the apes. Towne was known to have been working on the script even before Chinatown was finished, and had been thinking about it for years even before that. By 1977 the property was officially in pre-production at Warner Bros. with Towne directing, and he and his proposed director of photography, Michael Chapman, scouted locations in Africa. Peter Biskind, in the scathing but well-researched bestseller Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, wrote that Towne had been warned by his friend Warren Beatty that the studio would never entrust a $30 million project to a first-time director. Yet, it seemed as if they would, in spite of the fact that Towne's script ran to 240 pages and he could never seem to finish writing the last act. In 1980, Towne was completely distracted by another project, but Warner Bros. felt that this smaller project would provide the writer with directing experience before he tackled the larger jungle epic. Unfortunately for Towne, Personal Best (1982), the "small" $7 million picture dealing with female Olympic hopefuls, had gone wildly over schedule and over budget - to $16 million. Towne had been held responsible for the overage, and according to Biskind he sold the Greystoke script outright to Warner Bros. in order to finish Personal Best; (in typical Hollywood fashion, accounts vary and afterward lawsuits flew between Towne, producer David Geffen, and the studio over the particulars). Warner Bros. gave Towne's script to British director Hugh Hudson, who had helmed Chariots of Fire (1981) to a Best Picture Oscar®. In turn, Hudson brought on scriptwriter Michael Austin (The Shout [1978]) for a major rewrite. The new script retained much the original's approach to the society of apes that raise the orphaned Tarzan, but greatly elaborates on the manor house settings of the elder Greystoke family; the non-jungle scenes end up comprising more than half of the final film. (Famously, Towne had his name taken off the credits and replaced with the name of his pet sheepdog). Hudson assembled a stellar cast, including Sir Ralph Richardson as the Sixth Earl of Greystoke (it would be Richardson's last film and he won a posthumous Oscar® nomination as Best Supporting Actor); Ian Holm as D'Arnot, the Belgian explorer who discovers the ape man; and model Andie MacDowell as Miss Jane Porter (MacDowell's Southern accent was hidden beneath uncredited dubbing by Glenn Close). As the adult Tarzan, Christopher Lambert turns in a sensitive, yet athletic and versatile performance; most actors previously cast in the famous role occupied it for a series of films and it is a shame that Lambert was not able to reprise it himself. Director Hudson also elicited superior performances from the many apes on view in Greystoke, all of whom (except for a few baby chimps) were played by humans. Early on in preproduction, it was decided to have actors play the ape society because of the many specific actions required, as well as for safety concerns. American makeup artist Rick Baker was the logical choice to realize the many apes required. Baker had created any number of werewolves, aliens, melting men, and old-age makeups for movies since the early 1970s, and his previous ape-related jobs included Schlock (1973), Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong (1976), and the incredibly expressive "Sidney" in The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981). For Greystoke, Baker relocated to England for a year, setting up his workshop in Stage 5 of the EMI Elstree Studios. With a fifty-person crew, along with another forty wigmakers, Baker's workshop became an ape-suit factory able to turn out numerous finished suits in assembly-line fashion, each taking about eight weeks total. The suits were far from identical, however, because the requirements of the script dictated that several of the apes had to be distinguishable as characters, and, in a few cases, even age over time. Baker said (in Cinefex magazine, issue 16 - April 1984), "We went for a fictitious kind of ape - not a chimp and not a gorilla, but some lean more in one direction or the other. That's what was fun. I could draw what I liked from different apes and combine them according to what seemed to fit the character. Kala, Tarzan's ape-mother, is more like a chimp, though her ears are smaller. White Eyes, a mean one, is closer to a gorilla. Figs, a big fat one, has a lot of orang in him." While the Baker team was busy manufacturing ape suits, another group of athletically-inclined actors, gymnasts, and circus performers trained eight hours a day for several months to play the apes. Stage 7 at Elstree was their workout gym with ramps, mock trees and limbs, and nets for falls. Peter Elliott choreographed all of the ape movements, and also played "Silverbeard" - one of the key simian roles of the film. The ape suits were so thorough, the actors had arm extensions that could be adapted for walking, hanging, or grasping as the scene required. Baker said, "Even locked, the arm extensions looked a lot better than if they weren't wearing any, because they forced the actors to walk like an ape. Plus, they could even hang from them. We had a metal armature at the fingers that could hook around tree limbs so they could actually support their own weight." The final budget for Greystoke reached an enormous $46 million, roughly $7 million of which was taken up by the ape makeup and effects alone. Hudson turned in a cut of the film that ran to three hours, and Warner Bros. had originally intended to release it as their prime Christmastime offering of 1983. The studio held four previews and the audience reaction caused a delay as the film was held back for drastic recutting. Shortened by more than forty minutes, the film was finally released in March of 1984. Most critics were less than kind. In New York Magazine, David Denby writes that "One comes out of Greystoke oohing and aahing over the photography because there's little else to get excited about. The director, Hugh Hudson, is a great setter-up of shots, but he can't produce a complete sequence that has dramatic rhythm or even simple continuity...This Tarzan movie is informed by stern anthropological-zoological seriousness. The higher primate prevails in a bloody Darwinian struggle in the jungle; then, transported to society, he suffers the humiliations of civilization. Miserable everywhere, his existence is tragic - apes and men keep dying in his arms." Pauline Kael complained that "The director Hugh Hudson brings his unique mixture of pomposity and ineptitude to this expensively mounted version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs material...In the film's second half, Hudson twists the story into knots in order to deliver his 'statement' that apes are more civilized than people; the movie simply loses its mind, and dribbles to a pathetically indecisive conclusion." Meanwhile, Vincent Canby of the New York Times offered one of the few positive reviews, calling the film "the season's most unexpected, most invigorating surprise," and "unusually intelligent and serious entertainment." Canby contradicts the majority opinion when he asserts that "...there's not a dull moment in the film. However, there are indications at times that the original footage has been truncated, which sometimes results in major scenes being played without a proper buildup. These aren't reservations, but observations. Greystoke is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable films of its kind I've ever seen." At Time magazine, Richard Schickel also touted the film, saying "...much of Greystoke is very good, a tender, thoughtful and pictorially beautiful working out of the themes that were implicit in Edgar Rice Burroughs' original conception..." Schickel goes on to misrepresent the intentions of Burroughs, stating that the pulp writer had on his mind "...nothing less than the creation of a mythic figure who would encapsulate the Edwardian age's anguish over the way the virtues of the primitive life were being trampled by the irresistible march of industrialism and imperialism." Michael Mayo, in the genre magazine Cinefantastique had the harshest words for the film, calling it "...one of the most inept, dull, witless and dismal genre productions to come out in a long time; a veritable Heaven's Gate [1980] of fantasy/adventure films, gutted of its fantasy and with precious little adventure left." Mayo points out that "the Tarzan books weren't meant to be explorations of modern angst or alienation; Burroughs' Tarzan never once doubts himself or the superiority of the jungle and its codes to man's civilization." The ending of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes hinted strongly that the story would continue, but unlike most previous filmed takes on the character, there would be no follow-ups for this Tarzan. Producer: Stanley S. Canter, Hugh Hudson Director: Hugh Hudson Screenplay: P.H. Vazak, Michael Austin (writers); Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel) Cinematography: John Alcott Art Direction: Norman Dorme, Simon Holland Music: John Scott Film Editing: Anne V. Coates Cast: Ralph Richardson (The Sixth Earl of Greystoke), Ian Holm (Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot), James Fox (Lord Charles Esker), Christopher Lambert (John Clayton/Tarzan, Lord of the Apes), Andie MacDowell (Miss Jane Porter), Cheryl Campbell (Lady Alice Clayton), Ian Charleson (Jeffson Brown), Nigel Davenport (Major Jack Downing), Nicholas Farrell (Sir Hugh Belcher), Paul Geoffrey (Lord John 'Jack' Clayton) C-137m. by John M. Miller

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes


Say what you want about those old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, you can't beat them for kitsch value. Their Busch Gardens look is only compounded by intense wrestling matches with rubber anacondas, and Weissmuller's trademark yodel is ready-made to be mocked by shirtless skinny kids the world over. This sort of thing isn't exactly suited to the Masterpiece Theater treatment, so it's not surprising that Hugh Hudson's high-minded Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, now available in a special 20th anniversary edition from Warner Bros. DVD, is a mixed bag at best.

It could be that Weissmuller's iconic take on the character simply overwhelms any new interpretation. Then again, this is a story about a guy who was raised in the jungle by a bunch of monkeys. A certain degree of absurdity is bound to seep in, no matter how reverent the tone.

The story opens in 1885 England. Christopher Lambert eventually plays Tarzan, who, had his mother stayed put rather than journeying to Africa, would have been raised as the grandson of the sixth Earl of Greystoke (Sir Ralph Richardson, having fun with the role.) Instead, there's a shipwreck, and baby Tarzan is born on the Ivory Coast. When Mom and Dad meet an untimely death, Tarzan is quickly adopted by a pack of chimpanzees. After assimilating with the chimps and growing into adulthood ­- simultaneously the silliest and most interesting part of the film - ­ Tarzan finds a badly wounded French explorer (Ian Holm) and nurses him back to health. Then the explorer brings his partially-clad friend with him when he returns to England.

And that's where the real trouble starts. A large chunk of the movie is set in "civilization," where people just don't understand that ape men are best suited to swinging through trees and chasing wild animals, rather than attending swanky social gatherings. Unfortunately, Hudson and his screenwriters ("P.H. Vazak" and Michael Austin) also don't realize it. Let's face it, you watch a Tarzan picture to see a man act like an animal, not to see an animal forced into acting like a man. Genre revisionism is one thing. Ripping the very heart out of a genre, then telling us it's been improved, is quite another.

That said, there are still some pretty good reasons to sit through Greystoke. Hudson lavishes great attention on period detail, and cinematographer John Alcott supplies imagery that, at times, is positively Kubrickian; some of country estate shots seem lifted from Barry Lyndon. Makeup wizard Rick Baker (who specializes in apes) also does superior, if not entirely convincing, work. But the real jolt lies in watching Andie MacDowell, who plays Jane, deliver her dialogue in someone else's voice!

It seems MacDowell, who made her big-screen debut in Greystoke, couldn't shake her southern accent, so the producers enlisted Glenn Close to dub in the proper upper-crust lilt. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell MacDowell about this little maneuver, and she was humiliated while watching the premiere with her friends and family.

The other oddball story connected to Greystoke is that screenwriter Robert Towne, who initiated the project and nursed it along for several years, grew so disenchanted with Hudson's treatment of the material, he had his name changed in the credits to that of his dog - P.H. Vazak! Vazak promptly became the only dog ever to be nominated for an Academy Award®, unless you count The Godfather Part III.

The new wide-screen digital transfer, is absolutely gorgeous, and the soundtrack has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. There's also a theatrical trailer, and a decent commentary by Hudson and associate producer Garth Thomas.

For more information about Greystoke, visit Warner Video. To order Greystoke, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Tatara

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

Say what you want about those old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, you can't beat them for kitsch value. Their Busch Gardens look is only compounded by intense wrestling matches with rubber anacondas, and Weissmuller's trademark yodel is ready-made to be mocked by shirtless skinny kids the world over. This sort of thing isn't exactly suited to the Masterpiece Theater treatment, so it's not surprising that Hugh Hudson's high-minded Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, now available in a special 20th anniversary edition from Warner Bros. DVD, is a mixed bag at best. It could be that Weissmuller's iconic take on the character simply overwhelms any new interpretation. Then again, this is a story about a guy who was raised in the jungle by a bunch of monkeys. A certain degree of absurdity is bound to seep in, no matter how reverent the tone. The story opens in 1885 England. Christopher Lambert eventually plays Tarzan, who, had his mother stayed put rather than journeying to Africa, would have been raised as the grandson of the sixth Earl of Greystoke (Sir Ralph Richardson, having fun with the role.) Instead, there's a shipwreck, and baby Tarzan is born on the Ivory Coast. When Mom and Dad meet an untimely death, Tarzan is quickly adopted by a pack of chimpanzees. After assimilating with the chimps and growing into adulthood ­- simultaneously the silliest and most interesting part of the film - ­ Tarzan finds a badly wounded French explorer (Ian Holm) and nurses him back to health. Then the explorer brings his partially-clad friend with him when he returns to England. And that's where the real trouble starts. A large chunk of the movie is set in "civilization," where people just don't understand that ape men are best suited to swinging through trees and chasing wild animals, rather than attending swanky social gatherings. Unfortunately, Hudson and his screenwriters ("P.H. Vazak" and Michael Austin) also don't realize it. Let's face it, you watch a Tarzan picture to see a man act like an animal, not to see an animal forced into acting like a man. Genre revisionism is one thing. Ripping the very heart out of a genre, then telling us it's been improved, is quite another. That said, there are still some pretty good reasons to sit through Greystoke. Hudson lavishes great attention on period detail, and cinematographer John Alcott supplies imagery that, at times, is positively Kubrickian; some of country estate shots seem lifted from Barry Lyndon. Makeup wizard Rick Baker (who specializes in apes) also does superior, if not entirely convincing, work. But the real jolt lies in watching Andie MacDowell, who plays Jane, deliver her dialogue in someone else's voice! It seems MacDowell, who made her big-screen debut in Greystoke, couldn't shake her southern accent, so the producers enlisted Glenn Close to dub in the proper upper-crust lilt. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell MacDowell about this little maneuver, and she was humiliated while watching the premiere with her friends and family. The other oddball story connected to Greystoke is that screenwriter Robert Towne, who initiated the project and nursed it along for several years, grew so disenchanted with Hudson's treatment of the material, he had his name changed in the credits to that of his dog - P.H. Vazak! Vazak promptly became the only dog ever to be nominated for an Academy Award®, unless you count The Godfather Part III. The new wide-screen digital transfer, is absolutely gorgeous, and the soundtrack has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. There's also a theatrical trailer, and a decent commentary by Hudson and associate producer Garth Thomas. For more information about Greystoke, visit Warner Video. To order Greystoke, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Tatara

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1984

Released in United States Spring March 1, 1984

Re-released in United States on Video May 18, 1994

Completed shooting February 1984.

Super Techniscope

Released in United States March 1984

Released in United States Spring March 1, 1984

Re-released in United States on Video May 18, 1994 (special expanded edition)