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Scot Webster tries to save his sister Susan from the clutches of gangster W.S. Bruhl. When Scot comes to Bruhl's rented room, one of the gangster's henchmen collapses into his hands, killed by a gunman. The murderer tosses his gun to Scot and disappears. Since all the evidence points at him, Scot is arrested, tried and sentenced to death. A mad scientist uses his brain to transplant it into a gorilla. After the operation Scot wakes up in the body of a gorilla, eager to get his revenge... Written by
Phillip Terry was married to Joan Crawford from 1942 to 1946 and was the adoptive father or Christina Crawford. See more »
When the dog comes out into the alley and looks up at the ape/monster the camera pans up the side of the apartment building. However, mid-pan the scene apparently jumps to another shot/location as there is a break in the pan. See more »
pretty good, eccentric horror noir film with a killer ape
I learned about this movie from a sidebar to an article on "horror noir" in Films in Review, where it was highly recommended.
It does mix horror and film noir in its own peculiar fashion. It starts off more noir than horror. A woman addresses the camera, surrounded by smoke or fog, to tell us a tale. We're taken to a courtroom, where a stoic man is being tried for murder. The woman from the introduction enters the court as a spectator, and a couple of the other spectators call attention to her.
The man on trial doesn't say much in his defense, speaking in a monotone. The woman jumps up to insist on speaking. She seems like a tough dame, and it turns out she's the man's sister. What she says doesn't help much, and she isn't a credible witness; it's implied she's a prostitute.
Through a flashback to better days, we see the siblings when they were much more animated and happy. She wanted to leave their small town, but when she goes to the city she finds it hard to get work. She meets a man she falls in love with, and gets married, but when she wakes up after a party on her wedding night, he's disappeared. A strange man is in her bedroom informing her how much she owes for the room and party, and offers her work in a cabaret entertaining men...
The brother goes to the city to find the missing husband, and gets framed for murder by a criminal conspiracy by the men his sister now works for. Back in the courtroom, he's convicted, vows revenge, and is executed, but not before he agrees to donate his brain to science.
Post-mortem, his brain is implanted into an ape. It's not clear what the scientist hopes to accomplish by that. Something about evolution, perhaps seeing what the ape's potential is if its brain is upgraded. For some reason, the scientist seems to expect an intelligent ape, rather than a man's mind in an ape's body. It isn't clear to what extent the executed man's brain retains its personality or memories, but the ape does carry out his vow of revenge, and his own dog seems to recognize him.
There were several other primate horror movies Universal made, among them the three titles in the Paula the Ape Woman series: Captive Wild Woman (1943), Jungle Woman (1944/I), Jungle Captive, The (1945), and then the Bela Lugosi film Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932). It's a funny thing about primates and horror, they go back pretty far. The Doctor's Experiment, The Professor's Secret, and The Monkey Man (all 1908) are three of the earliest ones, the latter one even involving a brain transplant!
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