THE APE. Monogram, 1940. Boris Karloff, Maris Wrixon, Gene O’Donnell, Dorothy Vaughan, Gertrude Hoffman, Henry Hall. Based on a play by Adam Shirk, adapted by Curt Siodmak. Screenwriters: Siodmak and Robert Carroll. Director: William Nigh.

THE APE Boris Karloff

   This low-budget horror film was among those shown on TCM as part of a day-long festival of Boris Karloff movies just before Halloween.

   In David Vineyardís rundown of the list of titles (see the comments following), he gave rather short shrift to this one, and Iím sure rightfully so.

   Itís short on thrills, imagination and budget, not necessarily in that order, but the presence of Mr. Karloff in it makes it worth a look-see, as it almost always does.

   He plays one of his patented, well-recognized characters in this one, the more than slightly befuddled Dr. Bernard Adrian, whose dream is find a cure for polio in his backroom laboratory, first for crippled Frances Clifford (Maris Wrixon), who lives only a short distance away, and then for all mankind.

THE APE Boris Karloff

   Heís a kindly old man, rather feeble-looking, but slightly scary with that glaring intensity that’s always in his eyes Ė the sort of old man whose house small kids dare each other to throw rocks at, which they do.

   To obtain the serum for Miss Cliffordís recovery Ė well, thatís where the escaped ape from a circus traveling nearby comes in. Dr. Adrian finds he needs what seem to be spinal taps from dead men to continue his work, and somehow it appears that he has the ape doing his stealthy, late-at-night tasks for him.

   Here are the key words in the review so far: befuddled, kindly, scary, intensity, stealthy. Without Boris Karloff in this movie, you could also call it ludicrous. But with him in it, itís transformed into another dimension altogether.

   Itís still not a very good movie, but I think there are parts of it, if I can convince you to watch it, that you may not forget — and no, I don’t mean the scary parts.