In lieu of back wages, the defunct circus that Stanley and Oliver have been working for pay them off with a flea circus and a trained chimpanzee named "Ethel." Unfortunately, that's also the name of their landlord's wife, and after the boys sneak the ape into their room, the jealous man draws some unfortunate conclusions when he overhears Oliver ordering Ethel to "come to bed." Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
Stan calls the escaped circus lion "MGM", a comic reference to the lion that introduced the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer movies. Hal Roach distributed the Laurel and Hardy films at this time through MGM. See more »
The picture of "Ethel" the landlord is holding, and the actress portraying her are two different people. See more »
Laurel and Hardy are working at the circus as a pantomime horse. When the circus comes to an end the assets of the circus are split among the staff by way of lottery. Hardy wins Ethel a man-sized ape! Laurel, Hardy and Ethel go off on their way, with Ethel taking a shine to Laurel, however before they do anything else their first problem is to find a hotel that doesn't mind having a monkey for a guest!
I saw this as a double bill with `Their First Mistake'. I thought the former was weaker than their usual work, but I appreciated it more when I watched `The Chimp'. I have never before felt disappointed with a Laurel & Hardy short (and I've seen a few). Usually I am sucked in by their funny, punchy nature and it's so short that it's over before I even consider getting bored! However here I felt uncomfortable from the start the circus set up felt too different from their normal roles to be easily accepted. Also I just found the whole use of the monkey to be poor and unimaginative.
That's not to say I didn't laugh, because I did, but I laughed a lot less frequently that I normally do with their shorts. There are no really good routines after the circus clowning (excuse pun) is finished with and the final punch line can be see coming from the halfway mark! It was a let down because it all seemed quite forced at times and lacking in the free flowing feel that their better shorts have.
Laurel is still good and Hardy works his double takes well, if not as often as he would probably have liked to. The chimp of the title is too obstructive to the dynamic that exists between Laurel and Hardy and is a most unwelcome addition to the duo. The fact that the chimp is more than just a plot device (as the baby was in `Their First Mistake') but becomes a participant is to the film's detriment. The support cast are pretty poor even James Finlayson is woefully underused, not even one trade mark double-take and squint!
Overall this is one for fans only. I'm a fan and I still felt let down. It doesn't have any really strong scenes and the majority is quite ordinary. It is L&H of course, so it is impossible NOT to be funny at all, but this is way off their usual standard. The monkey used to set up basically every scene bar the early ones causes more damage to the onscreen dynamics than good and is the root of this film's weakness. I still laughed but the space between these laughs was way too long.
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