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

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Diana Lynn, Ronald Reagan, and Bonzo in the back
BEDTIME FOR BONZO (1951). Director: Frederick De Cordova.

College professor Peter Boyd (Ronald Reagan) gets in hot water with Dean Tillinghast (Herbert Heyes), when the latter finds out Boyd's father was a criminal. Tillinghast wants Peter to resign at the end of the semester, and orders his daughter, Valerie (Lucille Barkley) to end their engagement. Peter sets out to prove that environment and upbringing have more to do with criminal behavior than heredity. How does he do this? By taking the science department's chimp, Bonzo, home with him, and hiring a woman, Jane (Diana Lynn) to act as the ape's "mother!" That is the incredible premise of this movie, which gets stupider by the second. Since I happen to be very fond of chimps and their antics, I thought this movie might be cute and entertaining, but another Bringing Up Baby (which had a leopard instead of a chimp) it is not. I need not say that Ronald Reagan [Kings Row] is hardly in the league of Cary Grant, but his performance in this isn't bad, and Diana Lynn [Ruthless] is charming. Walter Slezak is fine as another professor, while Jesse White is typically obnoxious and unamusing as a man named Babcock. Considering Peter is a professor it's odd how often he refers to Bonzo as a monkey instead of a chimp. Bonzo is a cute and capable performer, but the chimps are a lot more fun in the Tarzan movies.

Verdict: Why Reagan went into politics. **.


angelman66 said...

Yeah, this one is pretty dumb. Reagan was a very wooden actor. Very cute back in the 1930s, but never one of the greats, though I do like him in Dark Victory with Davis. I am recording him and Doris Day and Ginger Rogers in a film called Storm Warning next week, maybe that will be worth the watch.
- C

William said...

It's been so long since I saw "Storm Warning" that I don't remember much about it except I think there was something about the Ku Klux Klan -- but don't quote me. Anyway either Doris or Ginger were witnesses to something and are in danger.

Or something like that!

Anyway, Reagan tended to be better when he had excellent female co-stars, such as Eleanor Parker in "Voice of the Turtle" (also released under another title that I forget -- "One for the Road??"

Gary R. said...

You were very close. It was retitled "One for the Book."

William said...

Thank you! I knew it was something along those lines.