Combustible Celluloid
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With: Boris Karloff, Maris Wrixon, Gene O'Donnell, Dorothy Vaughan, Gertrude Hoffman, Henry Hall, Selmer Jackson
Written by: Curt Siodmak, Richard Carroll, based on a play by Adam Shirk
Directed by: William Nigh
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 62
Date: 09/30/1940

The Ape (1940)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This thoroughly silly movie is worth seeing mainly for a delightfully touching, hammy performance by Boris Karloff in the lead role. He plays Dr. Bernard Adrian, who wishes to cure Frances (Maris Wrixon) of her polio and allow her to walk again. Unfortunately, his formula requires human spinal fluid. Coincidentally, an ape escapes from a circus, and, when the doc needs more spinal fluid, the ape is seen rampaging the countryside and murdering people. I won't spoil the surprise, but even if you can figure it out, it's all over in just 62 painless minutes. Gene O'Donnell's plays Frances's boyfriend, who objects to her radical treatments, and Henry Hall plays the sheriff, who drags his exhausted posse out every night to look for the elusive ape. The great Curt Siodmak (The Wolf Man, I Walked with a Zombie) wrote the screenplay, adapted from a stage play! Ray "Crash" Corrigan operated the ape suit, without credit. Kino Lorber released it on Blu-ray in 2020 with TWO commentary tracks by film historians (Tom Weaver and Richard Harland Smith) and a batch of trailers.

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