If there is a peculiar, outstanding, amazing and special film genre during the silent era, that's the circus movie.
These films often have the most bizarre plots, full of strange, morbid atmosphere and odd characters who act as though caught between the human and animal worlds. The thin line between the two worlds often has fatal results.
"The Monkey Talks", directed by Herr Raoul Walsh, has all those special and peculiar qualities, beginning with the strange main plot,: Two comrades, Herr Fano ( Jacques Lerner ) and Herr Pierre ( Don Alvarado ) from the WWI meet accidentally through the fault of an evil woman, Dame Maisie ( Jane Winton ) Herr Pierre wants to forgive her, but the circus they work in goes bankrupt. Fano and Pierre decide to invent a new sensational entertainment in order to amaze the decadent Paris audience: a monkey who talks. Of course, if Paris is involved in such a strange story, then love is all around, here embodied by Dame Olivette ( Olive Borden ) a tightrope walker. And last but not least, the two comrades fall in love with her and that's a problem if one of them is a fake monkey.
In such environment, danger abounds in the form of ferocious animals, abnormal people or suspicious circus workers who must live together in a small place so when pure evil unexpectedly appears in there, (The old and troublesome love Dame Maisie shows up again ), that means tragedy and horror are bound to follow.
The characteristics typical of circus films mean that the entertainment is guaranteed in spite of Herr Walsh's conservative film direction ( this German count would like to see more malice in there ). There are some remarkable scenes thanks to such a surreal plot in which the imagination runs wild and there is also technical skill ( the stairs sequence filmed with a vertical gear). Surely, the most bizarre scene takes place at the climax: Olivette is attacked by a real monkey-and to make matters more surreal- two monkeys fight for the same girl, one the official fake monkey of the film but the second one is supposed be an actual but is obviously an actor playing a monkey too!!!... Silent monkey business, certainly In addition, the roof scenes have a slightly Expressionist look and of course there is the tragic and violent finale so typical of the circus genre. These achievements rescue "The Monkey Talks" from being just an obscure circus movie.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must monkey around with his Teutonic heiresses.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
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