Thursday, May 14, 2009

Movie Review: The Gorilla (1939)

The Gorilla
THE GORILLA - Bella Lugosi/Big Ape Movie - Cover Image

Written by Rian James & Sid Silvers
Based On The Play by Ralph Spence
Directed by Allan Dwan

Walter Stevens.... Lionel Atwill
Peters.... Bela Lugosi
Kitty.... Patsy Kelly
Jack Marsden.... Edward Norris
Norma Denby.... Anita Louise
Garrity.... Jimmy Ritz
Harrington.... Harry Ritz
Mulligan.... Al Ritz

Wealthy Walter Stevens is left a note from “professional killer” The Gorilla, proclaiming that he is the next to die. As is the Gorilla’s custom, Stevens is given 24 hours before he meets his maker, and so he hires a trio of detective/bodyguards—played by the bumbling Ritz Brothers (kind of a cross between Laurel and Hardy and The Stooges)—to protect him. Unfortunately, they’re more frightened than frightening, more brainless than brave, and probably luckier than anything else.

Throughout a lengthy series of supposedly comic moments in which the bodyguards mock Bela’s accent, lose a fistfight with a fold-out ironing board, and make a plethora of wacky faces, a number of other bodies begin popping up around the mansion. By the time it comes down to the Grand Unveiling, where we learn if The Gorilla is a real gorilla at all, we quite frankly don’t care anymore.

The tagline promises a pretty hefty mathematical formula (Thrills + Laughs = Entertainment), but this film is far from thrilling, I never once laughed, and I wasn’t entertained in the loosest sense of the word. The story is downright ridiculous (which makes me wonder just how ridiculous the play this movie was based on was) and the Ritz Brothers hamming and slap-sticking was well more than I could handle. Not even a slumming Bela Lugosi could save this bomb.

If you’re looking for laughs, look elsewhere.
If you’re looking for scares, look elsewhere.
If you’re looking for…hell. Just look elsewhere.

66 minutes
Black & White
United States

"Don't you know that Poe hates women?"

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