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The Ape (1940)

Approved  |   |  Horror  |  30 September 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.5/10 from 1,191 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 25 critic

Dr. Bernard Adrian is a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman's polio. He needs spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum. Meanwhile, a ... See full summary »



(suggested from the play: "The Ape") (as Adam Hull Shirk) , (adaptation) (as Kurt Siodmak) , 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Gene O'Donnell ...
Danny Foster
Dorothy Vaughan ...
Mother Clifford
Gertrude Hoffman ...
Jane - Adrian's Housekeeper (as Gertrude W. Hoffman)
Henry Hall ...
Sheriff Jeff Halliday
Dr. McNulty


Dr. Bernard Adrian is a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman's polio. He needs spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum. Meanwhile, a vicious circus ape has broken out of its cage, and is terrorizing towns people. Written by Marty McKee <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He keeps human life in test tubes, and prowls at night in the skin of an ape! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 September 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gorilla  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The play opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 12/13/27. See more »


When the doctor is showing off his 'cured' guinea pigs, one of the poor critters falls off the table, at the end of the shot. See more »


Danny Foster: I don't like things I can't understand.
See more »


Referenced in Cinemassacre's Monster Madness: The Screaming Skull (2010) See more »


Auld Lang Syne
Traditional Scottish music
Played on a bugle by a relaxing circus worker
See more »

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User Reviews

Spinal Fluid Seemed to Be at a Premium
14 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If it weren't for the presence of Boris Karloff, this would be pretty bad. Apparently there has been a bout with polio in the community (paralysis) and there is a pretty young victim who the doctor fancies as looking like his late daughter. He makes it his life work to cure her. Unfortunately, he needs the bodily fluids of others to bring about that cure. Of course, he chooses the base, the outcast, for his work because the young pretty girl has more worth in the society than these others. He chooses his victims by judging this worth. He kills them by dressing in the skin of an ape that he killed and skinned. If this sounds silly, it's hard to defend. There's also a subplot of the jealousy of a young man who loves the young woman but may feel if she recovers she will reject him. Karloff's doctor is the constant victim of the community. They don't know what he's doing in that house and so he is victimized by the local kids (your garden variety brats), and looked on with suspicion. He is such a kindly man, it seems odd that there is such venom when it comes to him. Anyway, it's a small town and people do need their preoccupations. It just seems that a doctor with this much imagination could be a little more creative in his methods than the one he chooses. Imagine how lacking in dexterity if you were about 60 years old, running around in an ape pelt. It's rather forgettable and predictable, but it's fun to see Karloff's character.

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