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Bedtime for Bonzo (1951)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Family, Romance | 5 April 1951 (USA)
0:55 | Trailer

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A college professor attempts to salvage his personal and professional reputation by using a laboratory chimpanzee to prove that environment trumps heredity in behavioral development.


Frederick De Cordova (as Frederick de Cordova)


Ted Berkman (story), Raphael Blau (story) (as Raphael David Blau) | 2 more credits »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Reagan ... Prof. Peter Boyd
Diana Lynn ... Jane Linden
Walter Slezak ... Prof. Hans Neumann
Lucille Barkley Lucille Barkley ... Dr. Valerie Tillinghast
Jesse White ... Babcock
Herbert Heyes ... Dean Tillinghast
Herb Vigran ... Police Lt. Daggett (as Herburt Vigran)
Harry Tyler ... Knucksy Breckenridge
Edward Clark ... Professor Fosdick (as Ed Clark)
Edward Gargan ... Policeman Bill (as Ed Gargan)
Joel Friedkin Joel Friedkin ... Mr. DeWitt
Brad Browne Brad Browne ... Chief of Police
Elizabeth Flournoy Elizabeth Flournoy ... Miss Swithen (as Elizabeth Flourney)
Howard Banks Howard Banks ... Policeman
Perc Launders Perc Launders ... Fireman


Professor Peter Boyd's engagement to the Dean's daughter is upset by the revelation that his father was a habitual convict. To prove the Dean's genetic theory of inherited traits as wrong, Boyd starts a 'secret' experiment. He borrows the science department's chimpanzee with the goal of showing that it is one's environment that affects your reaction to right and wrong. Written by Richard Stephens <richards@metronet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE MOST UPROARIOUS NEW IDEA ON FILM SINCE "FRANCIS"! (original print ad-all caps) See more »


Comedy | Family | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 April 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Apan August på äventyr See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The popular Ramones song Bonzo Goes To Bitburg is written about Ronald Reagan and refers to Reagan as Bonzo because of the controversy over putting a wreath on a Nazi graveyard in Bitburg. The reason why is because people found it to be unacceptable for a United States president to show any remorse for the Nazis. See more »


When Bonzo is passed through the window, he has a skirt on that soon disappears. See more »


Hans Neumann: [to Bonzo] What am I going to do with you? Papa is in jail, and by now they're giving him the 13th degree.
See more »


Referenced in The Dead Don't Die (2019) See more »

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User Reviews

Nice family comedy
15 March 2014 | by SimonJackSee all my reviews

"Bedtime for Bonzo" is a light comedy that's fit for the whole family. One doesn't have to be a child to enjoy the antics of the co-star chimpanzee, Bonzo. The plot, acting and technical aspects of this film are all good. This is a nice look at Diana Lynn who played the female lead, Jane Linden. She was a child protégé pianist at age 10. She was a very capable and promising actress whose career was cut short. After being in several movies and a number of TV films and programs, she took a short respite from acting in 1964 while raising a family with her second husband in New York. She had just returned to Hollywood in 1971 with a part in a new film, but she suffered a stroke and died before filming began. She was 45.

The adults will enjoy some of the witty dialog as well. Here are some lines that made me laugh. Professor Neumann (Walter Slezak) to Peter Boyd (Ronald Reagan): "Who expects a psychologist to think? Especially when you're so busy thinking what you think other people are thinking?" Prof. Neumann to Jane (Diana Lynn): "And now they've come to take Bonzo." Jane: "To jail?" Professor: "No, to Yale." Again, Prof. Neumann to Jane: "You're no dope, Jane. You couldn't be. You don't have a university degree, and you don't teach logic."

Watching this move again after many years, I was reminded of recent television shows about home videos. So many of those were of pets, zoo animals and animals on the farm and in the backyard. It may still be on the air – but I watch very little TV. Interest in animals in the movies and on TV seems to ebb and flow.

The decades of the 1950s and 1960s saw a number of movies and TV series made with animal co-stars. The highly successful Francis the Talking Mule made five successful movies from 1951 – 1955. Donald O'Connor was the male lead in those films, each of which had different female stars. "Mr. Ed," was a talking horse that starred in a six-year TV comedy series by the same name. Alan Young was the male lead for the series that had 144 episodes plus an unaired pilot. Many people have grown up watching Lassie or Rin Tin Tin films. Other films have had a variety of animal co-stars: horses, deer, bears, lions, wolves, and more. Of course, animation has resulted in some huge blockbuster films for kids of all ages. Judging from the comedy lines in some of those, I wonder if they aren't targeted more for older audiences.

Anyway, "Bedtime for Bonzo" should be a fun movie for folks of all ages.

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