The Monster and the Ape (1945)

Article #1647 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-17-2005
Posting Date: 2-14-2006
Directed by Howard Bretherton
Featuring Robert Lowery, George Macready, Ralph Morgan

When a scientific foundation creates a robot called the Metalogen Man, an evil scientist who helped create him decides that he wants to use the robot for his own nefarious purposes, towards this end, he uses a trained ape to commit murder.

Viewing Note: My copy of this serial was in faulty condition. As a result, I missed most of episode three, as well as episodes four through seven. If anything I claim about the serial is contradicted by footage in these episodes, please bear in mind that I have yet to catch them.

Given that I’m a lot more partial to monsters and apes than to fistfights and lame cliffhangers, I actually looked forward to catching this serial in the hopes of it having a lot more of what I wanted. The fact that the cast featured Ralph Morgan, George Macready and Willie Best only made me more interested. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. It’s not so much that the monster in the title is actually a robot; though I like to think of my monsters as having been more organic than metallic in nature, a robot is a suitable and acceptable substitute. It’s just that I expected a lot more monster and ape action than the serial really gave me. Most of the time the robot just sits in the corner and does nothing, and some episodes feature the ape doing nothing more than walking back and forth in his cage at the zoo. As far as the cast goes, they all seem to be merely walking through their parts; even Willie Best seems mostly bored, and his comic dialogue is extraordinarily weak. Granted, his muted performance does leave his character with a bit more dignity than his characters are usually given. The only actor who seems to be having fun here is Ray Corrigan playing Thor the Gorilla; he’s positively playful here, and it may be his best performance in a gorilla costume. But ultimately, what we’re left with here is mostly fistfights and lame cliffhangers, with the latter often going beyond mere cheating cliffhangers into the realm of lying cliffhangers. And the one scene we the viewers are entitled to expect – a knock-down drag-out fight between the title characters – is nowhere to be found, and those hoping for one will be very disappointed when one of the title characters has its last gasp at the top of episode fourteen. This makes me wonder if Corrigan may have played a dual role here, as I see no credit for the actor playing the Metalogen man. At any rate, this one is a disappointment.

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