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The Ape Woman (1964)

La donna scimmia (original title)
A modest Neapolitan man meets a young woman with excessive hairiness. He exhibits her at fairs and marries her.It is after marriage that he receives a tempting offer from a French manager.


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Credited cast:
Antonio Focaccia
Filippo Pompa Marcelli ...
Ermelinda De Felice ...
Sister Furgonicino (as Linda De Felice)
Elvira Paolini ...
Ugo Rossi ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eva Belami


A modest Neapolitan man meets a young woman with excessive hairiness. He exhibits her at fairs and marries her.It is after marriage that he receives a tempting offer from a French manager.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He found her ... made love to her ... turned her into a side-show and discovered she was a woman. See more »


Comedy | Drama






Release Date:

31 January 1964 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Ape Woman  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This trivia contains spoilers. The version of this film released in Italy and France, has a completely different ending that the English dubbed version released in the UK and the US. In the Italian/French version, Maria dies giving birth to a son with her condition, and her husband exhibited their mummified bodies in a sideshow. This it how it happened with her real life counterpart, Julia Pastrana. Audiences in the UK/US were displease with such a downbeat ending, so a different ending was devised where Maria's hirsute condition is eliminated during childbirth, and her child is born normal. No longer having an act to exhibit, Antonio goes to work as a laborer...but he doesn't mind, for he has grown to love his wife and child. I, myself, prefer this ending. See more »


Referenced in Playboy: The Story of X (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

"The Monkey Woman", thirty four years later.
23 April 2008 | by See all my reviews

Since I'm doing a refreshment course in Italian at la Dante Alighieri here in Buenos Aires at the moment, I am keeping up to date with the Italian cinema --old and new-- watching almost one movie a day from their fantastic cinemateca collection.

This time I saw "La donna scimmia", from 1964, and 34 years after its production, it still keeps a surprising freshness and novelty. Annie Girardot was an extremely good looking woman then and yet, they managed with the full make up of a bearded woman, to almost conceal that fact (almost, because she had a heady mouth and a magnificent classic profile).

Her character is enormously pathetic --as with "XXY", the Argentinian movie about hermaphrodism- since not only her face, but her whole body is covered with hair (a 'beast', a 'monster', as they say talking about her problem in front of her as if she didn't have any kind of feelings), and you are on her side from the very introduction of the character, which is beautifully done.

She is so vulnerable, so hurt, obviously since the moment she was born. Unfortunately the script is very sketchy about the characters, and all of a sudden she looses this primitiveness to the point of becoming a sultry man-eater (on a dreadful show that she and her husband organized for a Parisian night club, since by now she's a sort of 'celebrity') but no woman with her upbringing could ever pull out such a bag of tricks --like they say about Marylin Monroe's character in "Niagara", when she appears with that red dress "Honey, to wear a dress like that, you have to start laying your plans when you were three years old!".

The scene of their wedding --organized by her showman--husband-manager-- is extraordinary, this sort of a monkey dressed up in full white regalia, veil included, singing with a microphone in hand "La novia" (The Bride) an extremely popular Argentinian song at the time, by Palito Ortega, while a crowd of smiling Italians suffocates them when coming out of the church.

A peasant woman stands in front of her imploring: "You are a Virgin!!" "You are capable of performing miracles!!" and the rest of the crowd trying to touch her beard, her veil, etc. The premises of the script are superb for a remake. Here we see again how difficult it is for the "Different" to be accepted.

We see throughout the film how repulsive is the character played by Ugo Tognazzi, a man completely unscrupulous, but the last scene of this film unveils him as utterly despicable. Magnificent actor Tognazzi. Splendid black and white photography. The music fits the goings on like a glove. The editing impeccable. Great director.

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