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"Monkey Business"

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Character's Name: Prof. Barnaby Fulton
Release Date:  September 15, 1952
Director: Howard Hawks
Studio:  20th Century-Fox
Running Time: 99 minutes

Cast: Cary Grant (Professor Barnaby Fulton), Ginger Rogers (Edwina Fulton), Charles Coburn (Mr. Oliver Oxly), Marilyn Monroe (Lois Laurel), Hugh Marlowe (Hank Entwhistle), Henri Letondal (Dr. Siegfried Kitzel), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Zoldeck), Larry Keating (Mr. G.J. Culverly), Douglas Spencer (Dr. Bruner), Esther Dale (Mrs. Rhinelander), George Winslow (Little Indiavillagn)

- by ZoŽ Shaw
Barnaby is in search of the elixir of youth. He is experimenting with his formula on chimps. One of the chimps gets out of its cage and starts playing with Barnaby's chemicals. When the chimp is about to be caught, he pours the mixture into a water cooler. Barnaby decides to test his formula on himself, and washes it down with a glass of water.....

- by Jen Parmeter
Cary plays Barnaby Fulton, a chemist working on a fountain of youth formula in his lab. After several attempts at trying to find the correct doses of chemicals in his formula, Esther the chimp escapes from her cage and mixes a formula of her own. This one successful, Esther's formula ends up in the water cooler and begins a hilarious adventure for the whole cast. Both Cary and co-star Ginger Rogers become victims of the chimp's recipe and act accordingly!

This film is a rare find for the Cary films of the 50's. While most have seen and remember him for the romance and Hitchcock films of this decade such as An Affair to Remember, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest, Monkey Business is reminiscent of the screwball comedies of the 30's. Very funny and full of just plain silliness, this film is a great comedy that the whole family can watch.

Personal Note: This is one of my 10-year old brother's favorites.

VARIETY Film Review - September 10, 1952
- by "Bron"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Some important names, production as well as cast-wise, are involved here, for disappointing results.  Attempt to draw out a thin, familiar slapstick idea isn't carried off.  Marquee names will have to be plugged hard to bolster boxoffice prospects. 

Story has Cary Grant as a matured research chemist, working on a formula to regenerate human tissue and using monkeys in his lab as guinea pigs for his elixir-of-youth experiments.  Ginger Rogers is his amiable wife, still madly enough in love with him to forgive his absentmindedness, his concentration on his duties instead of on her, etc.

One of the lab monkeys breaks loose, mixes up an assortment of chemical ingredients lying about, dumps the concoction into the water-cooler - with the inevitable results.  First Grant, then Miss Rogers, drink from the cooler, and immediately get teenage notions, emotions and symptoms.  They buy young clothes, racy cars; go roller-skating, jitterbugging, and otherwise act the gay cutups.

Occasional scenes are briefly funny but are not sustained, and the joke wears thinner as it's spun out into further developments.  Grant plays the role sometimes as if his heart isn't completely in it.  Miss Rogers, looking beautiful, makes as gay a romp of it as she can.  Marilyn Monroe's sex appeal is played up for all it's worth (and that's not inconsiderable), as she appears as a nitwit secretary.  But scripting deficiencies let them all down.

Charles Coburn is robust as prez of the chemical concern, anxious to make a fortune on a youth elixir formula, and other support is adequate.  

- by Kathy Fox
This is Cary Grant's second and last movie with Ginger Rogers, the first being ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON in 1942.  This is CG's 58th movie and his fifth movie being directed by Howard Hawks.  Their relationship had started in 1938, with the production of BRINGING UP BABY.  This movie has very true shades as BUB.  Cary is the greatest of farceurs, lighting up the screen with hilarity and fun.  Cary plays Dr. Barnaby Fulton who has been working on a youth-restoring formula for several years.  He has not had much success until one day a chimpanzee gets loose in the lab and accidentally concocts the exact formula Barnaby had been searching for.  No one knows that the chimp has put the formula in the water cooler (except the water tastes bitter), and everyone who drinks the water gets younger and younger.  The chemical reaction is fun and explosive.  Finally, Barnaby decides that the formula has to go and tells his wife, Edwina (Ginger Rogers) of his new formula, "You're only old when you forget you're young," which obviously is the best philosophy for anyone to follow.  Cary makes acting look so easy; I envy him for that.  When this film came out it was not a commercial success, but today it is known as a true classic.  Just goes to show what time can do to put a new slant on things.

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - September 6, 1952
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
Needless to say, "Monkey Business," which arrived at the Roxy yesterday, is not a "message picture" nor a compound of high dramatic art.  It is, to be quick about it, what is known as a "screwball comedy" - or would have been known by that label back in the Greg LaCava days - and, as such, it is simply a concoction of crazy, fast, uninhibited farce.  This sort of thing, when done well - as it generally is, in this case - can be insanely funny (if it hits right).  It can also be a bore.

The viewer found it entertaining and farcically inventive to the point where its battery of comedy writers obviously lay back on their typewriters and let it coast.  That is to say, it bubbles and throws off a lot of surprise so long as its single gag is running more or less up-hill.  Tat gag has to do with the invention and the imbibing of a supposed elixir of youth by a slightly romance-weary chemist and his slightly frustrated wife.  But, as soon as this gag is established and provokes the obvious guffaws, the subsequent changes rung upon it become just a little dull.

We don't blame the batter of writers - I.A.L. Diamond, Charles Lederer and Ben Hecht - who presumable knocked themselves silly writing the scatterbrained script.  They must have sustained themselves entirely on giggle-water and laughing-gas while doing the job, for the confusion of madcap situations belies any use of solid food.  Neither do we blame the direction of the usually sober-sided Howard Hawks, which is certainly an adroit and constructive with the material at hand as such could be.  

And certainly we don't blame the actors, from Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers right down to a smart chimpanzee, which is probably the most accomplished performer in the show.  For they, too, deliver slapstick clowning about as smoothly and courageously as one could expect from sober and dignified performers who have been removed from Sennett gags for many years.  Mr. Grant and Miss Rogers as the couple who partake of the concoction that makes them young - or, at least, makes them behave like children, which is something else again; Charles Coburn as a drug manufacturer, Marilyn Monroe as his secretary and many more throw themselves into the nonsense with a fine and abandoned will.

The trouble, we'd say - if trouble is what you'd call an extended barrage of whooping childish behavior by a film-full of grown-up clowns - is  that a screwball idea like this one can be kept funny just so long, which is maybe thirty-five or forty minutes, and then it blows up and that's the end.

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