Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

THE MONSTER AND THE APE


THE MONSTER AND THE APE (1945). 15 chapter Columbia serial. Director: Howard Bretherton.

Professor Franklin Arnold (Ralph Morgan) has made a robot from the material of a meteor which he calls "metaligan." Unfortunately, the evil Ernst (George Macready), who pretends to be a good guy, wants the robot and the meteor and everything else he can get for himself. Fighting against the evil Ernst are Kent Morgan (Robert Lowery of Batman serial fame) and Arnold's decorative daughter, Baba (Carole Mathews). Ernst not only has a passel of gunsels to help him, but a big ape named Thor (played winningly by Roy Corrigan) as well. We learn very early on that Ernst is a bad guy and it's just as well, as Macready's very distinctive voice would have given it away anyway. Caught in the middle of everything is Arnold's lab assistant, Flash (Willie Best of My Little Margie). [While Best is forced by the script to play the stereotypical "nervous negro," at least his gifted comic acting shines through in spite of it.] There are some good cliffhangers, such as a pit with closing walls in chapter eight, and an electro-death in chapter ten. This is not a bad serial, but by no means one of the best. Lee Zahler's score certainly helps. Morgan also appeared in the serial Gangbusters.

Verdict: Perfectly entertaining if unspectacular. **1/2.

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