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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
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. 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 »
Stuart Heisler's THE MONSTER & THE GIRL begins with a prostitute (Ellen Drew) coming out of the fog to tell her tale in flashback; she had come to the big city to follow her dreams and fell for a homme fatale (Robert Paige) who tricked her into gangland prostitution but when her brother (Phillip Terry) comes looking for her, he's framed for murder. There's a trial, of course, and her brother's sentenced to death -but before he's taken away, he vows that the gangsters who destroyed his family will get theirs one by one. Now this is where it gets really weird -a mad scientist (George Zucco) comes to see him on Death Row wanting his brain for science (!) and after the execution it's transplanted into a gorilla who proceeds to carry out the kid's threats. Whew!
The cast is a classic movie lover's dream -the gangsters on the receiving end of the mayhem are Paul Lukas, Joseph Calleia, Onslow Stevens, Marc Lawrence, and Gerald Mohr while the reporter-cum-love interest (!) is a young and handsome Rod Cameron. The flashbacks, courtroom scenes, gangsters and atmosphere almost (but not quite) make it a proto-noir but it isn't exactly a horror movie, either since the audience is on the gorilla's side all the way. Besides, the kid's faithful pooch from his previous life recognizes him and tags along on the ape's vendetta making this a real tear-jerker at times. I have no idea what target audience Paramount had in mind when Heisler was assigned to THE MONSTER & THE GIRL -the first half was way too "adult" for the Saturday matinée crowd and the second half was far too far-fetched for mature audiences. I was also a bit surprised at the frank depiction of prostitution. Gangsters perform a fake wedding ceremony for Ellen Drew and her slimy beau before the scene cuts to Drew stretching in bed with a sublimely satisfied smile on her face (copied from the one in GWTW where Scarlett purrs like a cat the morning after Rhett carried her up the stairs) when a thug strolls in and informs Drew she'll be working in a clip joint being nice to men from now on. Wow. It was also strange seeing Universal's future singing star Robert Paige as a bad guy. Heisler made AMONG THE LIVING starring Albert Dekker, Susan Hayward & Frances Farmer the same year and in that one I spotted Rod Cameron as an extra in a bar room. His rugged good looks were hard to miss and they must have impressed someone at Paramount when they viewed the rushes because he's 7th billed in THE MONSTER & THE GIRL with a fair amount of screen time. It was released in February, 1941 and AMONG THE LIVING was released 10 months later but because of Rod it looks to me like the last one was lensed first.
A one-of-a-kind cinematic experience, that's for sure. Recommended!
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