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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 <email@example.com>
William Nigh directs this low-budget Monogram picture about a circus ape escaping simultaneously with an eccentric doctor trying to cure a young girl's paralysis. Somehow the two plot strands meet and end in a very far-fetched denouement. Fantastical plot notwithstanding, The Ape is a quality picture at least as far as Monogram pictures go. Sure it has some real cheap sets and a threadbare, ridiculous story. The direction is adequate but nothing more. But what it does have is a fine performance from Boris Karloff as the doctor working endlessly to free a girl from the confines of her wheelchair all the while blurring the line of good and bad. For me there are three types of mad doctors. The first and probably most familiar is the crazed, maniacal, egocentric mad doctor looking for revenge or glory or the affections of a girl. These guys are the ones full of themselves and usually are dedicated in some form or fashion to evil. Bela Lugosi excelled at these. The second type is the same maniacal, crazed doctor but one that is more worldly. He wants money or power and position. He knows oftentimes that what he is doing is wrong(differentiates him from first type). I think Lionel Atwill played this type very well. The third type - and a very broad one - is the mad doctor who crosses the line of acceptable behaviour but his action are all done with good at the core. Karloff really perfected this type. The Ape has just such a "mad doctor" in it. Karloff gives such a good performance despite everything working against him. He creates genuine pathos in his role. The rest of the cast in this film is nothing too special. I enjoyed Henry Hall as the lawman, and Gertrude Hoffman as Karloff's quiet maid was chilling in her demeanor and silence. The Ape should not be overlooked simply because of its less than stellar roots with Monogram. Karloff rises above the material and this film rises above the standard fare usually created. The ape itself, well, quite ridiculous. In this one George Barrows gets a break and Ray "Crash" Corrigan(the alien in It! The Terror from Beyond Space)dons the unrealistic simian outfit.
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