Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes | 1984
Good-looking, but plodding, retelling of the old warhorse, which stays closer than usual to the Edgar Rice Burroughs source.
There seem to have been problems, though. The screenplay credit goes to ‘PH Vazak’ – the script was written by Robert Towne who, on seeing the movie, insisted on giving the writing credit to his dog. The dog in turn is named after PH Vazak’s bar in Greenwich Village, itself a famous movie location (seen in The Godfather, Part II). And Andie MacDowell (in her first screen role) is famously revoiced by an uncredited Glenn Close.
The jungle scenes of Greystoke’s upbringing by apes in ‘Equatorial West Africa’ was indeed filmed in the lush rainforest of West Africa, in what is now Korup National Park in the fairly inaccessible southwest region of Cameroon. The graceful waterfall is Ekom Falls, south of Bafoussam, near the town of Melong. From Melong, you can hire a driver to take you to the falls, which are at their best during the rainy season of April and May. Bafoussam is about 150 miles northeast of Douala, the country’s largest city and its major airport, Douala International Airport.
The ‘Greystoke Mansion’ is Floors Castle, home of the Duke of Roxburghe, north of Kelso in Scotland, about 25 miles southwest of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Overlooking the River Tweed, and facing the Cheviot Hills, the castle started life as a tower house. It was expanded into a Georgian country house in 1721 and, in the 1840s, remodelled by architect William Playfair.
Floors provides the exterior and the ballroom, but other interiors were filmed at Hatfield House, Hatfield in Hertfordshire.
The grand entrance hall, in which the Sixth Earl of Greystoke (the magnificent Ralph Richardson) welcomes grandson John Clayton (Christopher Lambert) on his arrival home, and where Lord Esker (James Fox) proposes to Jane Porter (Andie MacDowell) in front of a blazing fire, is Hatfield’s magnificent Marble Hall.
The elaborate staircase, down which the eccentric old earl recklessly slides on a tea tray, is also at Hatfield. It’s the Grand Staircase, one of a few surviving Jacobean staircases, and a marvel of woodcarving.
Hatfield was also seen as the home of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and provided the interior of ‘Wayne Manor’ in Tim Burtons Batman. James Fox was back, living in the house in both Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.
Hatfield, is also featured as the 'Diogenes Club' in Mr Holmes, with Ian McKellen, as well as in such period pieces as Shekhar Kapur's epic Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Oscar-winner Shakespeare in Love and Henry VIII And His Six Wives, as well as becoming the ‘Great House’ in Sally Potter’s time-shifting, gender-shifting film of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.
And yet more interiors were provided by Blenheim Palace, Woodstock in Oxfordshire, also seen in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, The Young Victoria, the 1998 film of TV series The Avengers, and (as an Italian palazzo) Spectre.
John Clayton (the name Tarzan is never mentioned in the film) is unwisely invited to the opening of the ‘Greystoke Wing’ of London’s Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7, in the main Dinosaur Hall.
The museum – a stunning building in its own right – is also featured in Paddington, 1995’s Loch Ness, in the excellent, low-key 1950 thriller Seven Days to Noon, the legendary (for all the wrong reasons) Basic Instinct 2 and the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending.
Once liberated, the captive ape, which – surprise! – turns out to be Clayton’s adoptive ‘father’, has the impeccable good taste to head directly for Gilbert Scott’s marvelously overwrought Albert Memorial, recently restored to its gleaming gilt glory. To see the memorial (to Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert), head north from the museum on Exhibition Road to Kensington Gardens, where it dominates Kensington Gore, directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall.