The Gorilla (1939) - Allan Dwan


Horror comedies are always a tough nut to crack. They usually never do very well. It's really tough to mix two genres and do it well. It's even harder when one of those genres is horror. The Gorilla is an example of the two styles cancelling each-other out. It comes to the table with the usual brand of comedy that was running rampant at the time. Fast-paced, high-wit comedy that did really well... back then. The horror is even worse. It's has forced tension and a not-very-scary antagonist.

The all-star cast is completely lost in the crap. Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, and Anita Louise are just a few names. Not to mention the b-list comedy troupe The Ritz Brothers, who were apparently mistreated by the production. They really exploited Lugosi too. Using his popularity as Dracula they believed that just merely his presence could illicit fear. It doesn't.

A very wealthy old man (Lionel Atwill) is threatened by a killer going by the name of "The Gorilla". He hires some detectives to crack the case. However, the detectives happen to be The Ritz Brothers. A jokester group that doesn't really give any confidence in getting the job done. Their usual witty humor is at times nerve-racking. But parts of their performance actually worked. Bela Lugosi plays the creepy butler and Anita Louise plays the cowardly maid. A combination we are all very familiar with.

I don't think I will ever understand why we thought Gorillas were scary. The whole notion just isn't very terrifying to me. If it sounds like something that might send shivers down your spine then this is probably right up your alley. It's no Abbott and Costello, believe that. You won't be cracking up probably just scratching your head.


Allan Dwan




Suspenseful Ape Thriller

Did ya know...

The Ritz Brothers had suffered the loss of their father shortly before filming this film. Production literally forced them into working so quickly. They were barely aloud to go to the funeral. This was the last Ritz Brothers film for 20th Century Fox. This movie is somehow based on a play. It must have been a boring play.