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The Ape (1940)

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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 ... See full summary »



(suggested from the play: "The Ape"), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Ape (1940)

The Ape (1940) on IMDb 4.5/10

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Complete credited cast:
Maris Wrixon ...
Miss Frances Clifford
Gene O'Donnell ...
Danny Foster
Dorothy Vaughan ...
Mother Clifford
Gertrude Hoffman ...
Jane - Adrian's Housekeeper (as Gertrude W. Hoffman)
Henry Hall ...
Sheriff Jeff Halliday
Selmer Jackson ...
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 | Add 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:

The Ape  »

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, California, USA on 13 December 1927. 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 »


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

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User Reviews

Karloff and Siodmak add class to ridiculous tale
17 July 2004 | by (Universal City, TX) – See all my reviews

It doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but this cheapie was better than I expected, thanks not only to Karloff's sympathetic performance but to a script by Curt Siodmak, who did much better things. Once you accept that the main idea is stupid, you can appreciate that each individual scene is well-written in terms of character development. Everyone is slightly more ambiguous than their stock character usually would be. The "mad" doctor is sincerely concerned with the insipid heroine who reminds him of his daughter, and his madness is a kind of beautiful tragedy. The "good" boyfriend says he doesn't want her hurt, but he also seems jealous of the doctor and resentful that the heroine won't be so dependent on him. There's real tension in their triangle. The hick sheriff is almost sharp enough to figure things out. The town blowhard gets several scenes showing what a well-chiseled wretch he is, especially the scene with his pathetic wife. The small-towners are all various little unflattering types--lazy, suspicious, gossipy, narrow-minded--not exactly an ad for rural life. Karloff's maid seems mute except when she suddenly whispers one word. There's a city doctor who comes on as an antagonist, then gets converted into an ally by Karloff's evidence, and disappears from the movie! There's the wise caretaker, introduced in a surprising pan shot that begins with a black circus worker playing a trumpet for a dancing elephant and ending with the ape being provoked by the rotten trainer. The very ending, too, has a certain power if you meet the movie halfway. The trouble is, just as you're pulled into the simplicity and effectiveness of all these human scenes, along comes another scene with that apesuit to pull the rug out from under the movie's credibility. The ape is the worst thing about THE APE!

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