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Friday, 30 March 2012

Classic Film Review: Monkey Business (1952)

I have to preface this review by saying that I really can't remember when I watched a film that made me laugh as hysterically as this one. Starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe and Charles Coburn, Monkey Business tells the story of absent-minded professor Barnaby Fulton (Grant) trying to come up with a formula for the fountain of youth. His boss Mr Oxley (Coburn) is very interested in the idea while Fulton's wife Edwina (Rogers) just has to deal with her husband being a little more scatty than usual. Barnaby thinks he's got the formula right and tests it on himself - what he doesn't know, however, is that instead of his formula working one of his chimpanzees has turned scientist and mixed another version of the formula into the laboratory water bottle... Chaos ensues.

There were so many hilarious scenes in this that I can't list them all. For instance, Edwina's first effects from the formula lead her to put a fish down Mr Oxley's pants. Rogers's comic ability really shines through in this film, particularly when she uses a slingshot to hit secretary Miss Laurel (Monroe) on the rear end. In fact, even popping gum is hilarious when Rogers does it. Not to be outdone, Cary Grant dresses up as an Indian brave in order to scalp a love rival and flies down a laundry chute when he loses his glasses. Miss Laurel is the only one never polluted but Marilyn Monroe is at her lightest comic best. The effect of all this is one of the best comedy films I've watched in years. Not bad for 1952.

Film buffs also might be interested in the fact that while Monkey Business co-stars Monroe and Coburn prior to their success together in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), it also has a small appearance by child actor George Winslow as a little Indian. Winslow played, of course, Henry Spofford III in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the young man who helps Monroe's character out of a porthole amongst other things. He may only have a few lines in Monkey Business but he makes them count.

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