5.8/10
82
4 user 6 critic

The Naked Ape (1973)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 1 August 1973 (USA)
When insecure teenager Alex persuades his buddies James and Eric to go on a road trip through the Southwest for the summer, he doesn't tell them he's not planning to return. Along the way, they meet two girls who join them.

Director:

Donald Driver

Writers:

Donald Driver (screenwriter), Desmond Morris (book)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Johnny Crawford ... Lee
Victoria Principal ... Cathy
Dennis Olivieri Dennis Olivieri ... Arnie
Diana Darrin ... Fat Woman
Norman Grabowski ... Sargent
John Hillerman ... Psychiatrist
Helen Horowitz Helen Horowitz ... Fat Child
Robert Ito ... Samurai Warrior
Marvin Miller ... Fat Man
Frank Parker ... College Professor (as Brett Parker)
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Storyline

When insecure teenager Alex persuades his buddies James and Eric to go on a road trip through the Southwest for the summer, he doesn't tell them he's not planning to return. Along the way, they meet two girls who join them.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The naked ape is only human.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fred Wolf Films

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 1973 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

References King Kong (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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User Reviews

 
Underrated retro-gem of the Sexual Revolution
23 December 2005 | by ofumalowSee all my reviews

It's beyond me why this movie isn't better regarded, let alone hasn't been released to any home format (legally that is). Produced by Hugh Hefner's Playboy Productions--which, much as you might object to its trademark "bunny" objectifying of women--it takes the theses of Desmond Morris' pop-anthropology book and translates them into a series of pro-sex, but more importantly pro-tenderness and pro-humanism sketches.

Some are cleverly animated (in various styles), others acted out in terms that range from the satiric to the tragic. The non-cartoon segments are primarily acted out by an appealingly goofy, vulnerable if muscled-up (from his juvenile TV stardom days on "The Rifleman") Johnny Crawford, and pert young Victoria Principle. (Stills from her nude scenes here were much later exploited as bogus evidence of a past "softcore" career after she'd achieved fame in the TV series "Dallas.")

"The Naked Ape" is imagined in creative and narrative ways that would never happen again (at least with a generous budget) after the mid-70s. It's conventionally sexy/humorous on the surface. But the overriding message is that the sexes should respect one another, and that mankind's tilt toward warring, macho self-destruction is anything but "natural." It's a beautiful message, one that the film arrives at with an entirely appropriate weight of melancholy and anti-Establishment critique.

A lot of counterculture-relic features from this era have dated badly, but I think this movie--poorly appreciated in the first place--is still forward-thinking, and would earn a larger cult following (the existing one flows from "cut" early-80s TV broadcasts and bootleg videos) if it were released as a legitimate DVD. C'mon, Hugh...this was your baby once, why not let it take some long-delayed toddling steps toward the public?

(P.S.: Looking at this review a decade later, I noticed the only two other "user comments" are from one person who erroneously thinks the original book was a "novel," and the other from someone who obviously hasn't seen the movie at all. Yeesh.)


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