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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Ape Man (1943)

Starring Bela Lugosi, Louise Currie, Wallace Ford, Henry Hall, Minerva Urecal
Directed by William Beaudine
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After a scientific experiment results in giving him the appearance and mannerisms of an ape, Dr. James Brewster is ready to resort to murder to find a cure.

One of Lugosi's nine films for low-rent Monogram Pictures, this is probably his least dignified role among all of them, playing the mad scientist/ape who's covered with fur and bent over like a chimpanzee.  And yet he remains absolutely watchable, playing the role seriously and with a grim malaise as he mourns his condition, becoming excited only at the prospect of killing others to save himself by obtaining their spinal fluid.  Letting his arms sway at his sides like a real primate, we believe him in the part despite the low-budget trappings, and he becomes a true menace when stalking Currie in the film's lively climax.  Currie was one of the more beautiful actresses to appear in a Monogram movie, and although her scenes with Ford mine tired gender humor we've seen a thousand times before, they have decent chemistry and make their characters appealing.  The story's pretty lightweight and Beaudine's direction nothing special, but I enjoyed the music, and above all, Lugosi makes it worth watching.

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