24 April 2009 | bkoganbing
"Me Nanu.......You Jane"
When Coach John Amos and his assistant Tim Conway go looking for athletic talent for Merryvale College, they say they'll travel anywhere. And in The World's Greatest Athlete they go to East Africa in search of a legendary jungle boy raised in the wild whose athletic prowess is beyond belief.
The subject of their search is Jan-Michael Vincent who plays the young Tarzan like man and he's every inch the athlete that former Tarzans like Johnny Weissmuller, Glenn Morris, and Buster Crabbe were. They have to use a little trickery to get him out of the jungle and away from his foster father, witch doctor Roscoe Lee Browne. Browne knows all the jungle remedies, but he's lived in the world outside the Kenyan veld and he's up to its challenges.
But he's still got concern for his foster son who ain't used to civilization and all the things that entails. Among which include women in the person of shapely Dayle Haddon who covers him on the academic end of things at college. Talk about remedial education though, this is really stretching it.
She's also got a jealous suitor in Danny Goldman. Goldman's a little ferret of a schemer, the would be Iago sends for Browne from Kenya to work his voodoo magic to get Vincent back to the woodland wilds and a clear path for Goldman back to Haddon. If that means him losing the big NCAA track meet where Vincent is going to represent Maryvale in all events like Jim Thorpe did years ago for Carlisle, so be it.
Jan-Michael Vincent looks just fabulous in a loin cloth. I'm surprised he never was cast in a straight out Tarzan film. He actually did appear in one years later when he was much older and the bad guy in that one. Of course he just had to utter "Me Nanu.......You Jane" to Haddon whose character name of course was Jane.
Vincent and Haddon get great support from the whole cast, especially Tim Conway who has to deal with being shrunk to three inches in height by Browne in a bar. Conway gets a nice fifteen minute sequence trying to deal with his unfamiliar surroundings. Nancy Walker has a fine bit as a Mrs. Magoo landlady who can't recognize a tiger that Vincent has brought from Africa as a pet. He must have gotten him from the zoo in Mombasa because as most kids know, tigers aren't native to Africa.
This was the final feature film appearance of Billy DeWolfe who plays the dean of the college and Goldman's uncle. I suspect he would have had more of a role had health permitted it.
The World's Greatest Athlete is one of Disney's better screen comedies for the Seventies. And as we learn in the end, Jan-Michael Vincent might not just be The World's Greatest Athlete.