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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Monster And The Girl (1941)

Starring Ellen Drew, Robert Paige, Paul Lukas, Joseph Calleia, Onslow Stevens
Directed by Stuart Heisler
(actor & director credits courtesy

After his sister is blackmailed by gangsters into a life of debauchery, her brother confronts them only to be framed by the criminals for murder, but after he's executed, a scientist has plans for his brain.

A pretty bizarre potboiler from Paramount Pictures, this picture is part crime drama, part horror film, and yet once the man's brain is transplanted into a giant gorilla, Heisler's staging of the ape scenes make it somehow credible, hard to believe as that sounds.  Draping the beast in shadow, focusing on the creature's eyes, and allowing him no ape-like mannerisms, the director and his crew succeed in suspending our disbelief in the fantastic premise, and build eerie suspense by leaving the ape's attacks unscored on the soundtrack.  It's not a great film, but still a memorable B-movie, and boasts an impressive cast, including Oscar-winner Lukas*, and old pros like Calleia, George Zucco, and even Cliff Edwards, better known per IMDB for voicing Jiminy Cricket in Disney's Pinocchio.

*Lukas won his Oscar for Watch On The Rhine (1943), per IMDB

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