Director Hugh Hudson
Producers Stanley S Canter
& Hugh Hudson
Associate Producer Garth Thomas
Story Edgar Rice Burroughs
Adaptation P H Vazak & Michael Austin

Tarzan/John Clayton Christopher Lambert
Jane Porter Andie MacDowell
Jane Porter's voice (uncredited) Glenn Close
Capitaine Phillippe D'Arnot Ian Holme
Sixth Earl of Greystoke Ralph Richardson
Lord Charles Esker James Fox
Lady Alice Clayton Cheryl Campbell
Lord John (Jack) Clayton Paul Geoffrey
Major Jack Fowning Nigel Davenport
Sir Hugh Belcher Nicholas Farrell
Captain Billings Richard Griffiths
Willy Hilton McRae
Buller David Suchet
Sir Evelyn Blount John Wells

• This was the first legitimate Tarzan film in 15 years - no one counts Bo Derek's fiasco or numerous unauthorised low-budget foreign-language Tarzan films - and it was a major departure from all of the previous escapist adventure films of the genre.  The screenplay for Greystoke had originally been written in the mid-1970s by writer-director Robert Towne, under the pseudonym P H Vazak.  Stanley S Canter was to produce the film for Warner Bros and Towne was to direct.  Largely due to Hollywood politics the director's position was passed to Hugh Hudson, who had won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1981 for Chariots of Fire.  Principal actor, Christopher Lambert, accompanied a film crew to Cameroon, West Africa, to acquire the location footage of picturesque African landscapes, wide rivers and thundering waterfalls.  They faced grueling conditions including torrential rains, uncooperative local tribes, a volcanic eruption and a threatened military coup.  The film was also Andie McDowell's film debut, but her southern drawl was unsuitable for the character of Jane Porter, a New Englander, and Glen Close's voice was masterfully dubbed in instead. (Fury)

• To hear the ape cry used in this film click on the image at right

PLOT - Note: Spoiler warning
• Jack and Alice Clayton (Lord and Lady Greystoke) are shipwrecked on the west coast of Africa in 1885.  Alice dies soon after childbirth and John is killed by a band of apes that live nearby.  Their young baby is adopted by Kala, a female ape whose young one has died recently, and the white-skinned child grows to maturity amongst her troop, learning the savage ways of the jungle (above).  Kala is shot and killed by local pygmies' arrows and Tarzan, in a fit of rage, kills one of the natives.  When Tarzan is an adult a group of scientists from the British Museum arrive in his jungle to collect specimens and one of the group, Phillipe D'Arnot, a Belgian (right), is badly wounded by the hostile pygmies' arrows.  Tarzan nurses him back to health and they develop a close friendship as D'Arnot teaches Tarzan to speak English.  D'Arnot realises Tarzan's origins and persuades him to return to England where Tarzan meets his kind and loving grandfather, Lord Greystoke, who lost his son many years before.  Tarzan becomes John, or Johnny to his grandfather, and falls in love with Lord Greystoke's American ward, Jane Porter (right).  Jane is betrothed to Lord Esker, a pompous aristocrat and her growing affection for John infuriates Esker.  Old Lord Greystoke is killed while indulging in a childish prank sliding down the staircase.  Soon afterward John is attending a dedication ceremony at the English Museum and is instinctively drawn to a laboratory where live apes are kept captive.  One of the apes is Silverbeard, Kala's mate - or Tarzan's ape "father".  John frees the old ape and they frolic in the nearby park until the London constables arrive and shoot John's companion.  Distraught and disillusioned by civilisation, John decides to return to the African jungle he loves, sacrificing his love for Jane for a quest for his true self, the primitive savage (above).

Click on the image below to view the trailer for this film:

Click on the image below to view a complete set of lobby cards for this film:

Kings of the Jungle by David Fury, 1994, McFarland Classics
• The poster was pilfered from an eBay auction item
• Both photos are screenshots from the DVD of this film, Warner Bros 1983
• The video of the trailer was uploaded to Youtube by me specifically to embed in this web page
• Read a Christopher Lambert filmography at IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
• Read an Andie MacDowell filmography at IMDb

• Bag yourself a copy of this film on DVD at or eBay

TARZAN® is the property of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Tarzana CA.
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Tarzan material is copyright © 2002-2008 Paul Wickham
This page was updated June 2009