Sunday, 30 January 2011

Old Movie Madness: Monkey Business (1952)

Another knitting movie - starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers as a married couple of long time standing.  Cary plays Dr Barnaby Fulton, a scientist working to great a youth drug.  He thinks he has cracked it with his latest potion but really Esther, one of the monkeys they are testing the formula on, has slipped her own concoction in the drinking water.

After taking the potion, he has a drink of water to take away the taste and Esther's potion takes control, he starts acting like a 20 year old, having a youthful short hair cut and buying a loud jacket and a sports car and whisking his bosses secretary, played by the very lovely Marilyn Monroe, off on a day of adventure.

When he wakes up the effects of the potion have worn off and intending to try again he prepares a second dose.  His loving wife Edwina, concerned that he might repeat his behaviour and get into more trouble quickly take the dose herself, and also horrified by its bitter taste, quickly takes a draught from the water fountain.  Edwina is then affected in much the same way, playing practical jokes on those all around her, whisking her husband off dancing and then getting dramatically over emotional when he disgrees with her.

Again the potion wears off after a sleep and the two head to the lab to decide what to do.  Tired from their long night and the aftermath of their wild behaviour they drink a lot of coffee to face the day - using the water from the founctain.  This time they regress to the age of 10 and leave the office, having an argument on the way.  Edwina falls asleep and the Dr befriends a group of young boys who help him take revenge on his wife's former boyfriend who she called when angry with him the night before.

When Edwina wakes up to find a baby beside her (a neighbours child who has crawled in) she believes it is her husband and runs to the lab to beg his boss to find the antidote.  the boss and the other scientists all need a strong drink, but mix it with the water and all regress to childhood. 

Eventually everyone realises that the Doctor isn't a baby and the water has the formula and everyone lives happily ever after.

The film is daft, let me get that out of the way.  Really, incredibly, silly - but hey, what was I expecting huh?  It really doesn't make any sense and the monkeys do creep me out just a little - especially the very long close up of a monkeys face flipping its lips up and down.  That is probably just me though.

There are a lot of wonderful things about it.  Cary Grant just being, well, deliciously Cary.  Ginger Rogers fantastic acting both as an exceptionally devoted wife and a stroppy 10 year old girl is fabulous to behold, and Marilyn...oh she just looks divine in this film.  Especially in the pompom fringed dress.  Lust.

The costumes were by Travilla, Marilyn's favourite designer, the influence most evident in Marilyn's pleated dress (below) and make up was by Ben Nye.  It is no wonder everyone looks fabulous.

It is a bit of fluff, but fluff with a good heart and with some very wonderful moments.  Definitely worth watching.


  1. Have you seen Arsenic and Old Lace? That's probably my favorite Cary Grant movie

  2. Sounds really funny - a Sunday afternoon kind of film!

  3. I see what you mean about the pompom dress - gorgeous!

  4. I haven't seen this one yet so thanks for the recommendation :)

  5. I really love this film. It IS silly and daft but sometimes one couldn't ask for anything more in a film. I may have to watch it again, soon. =D
    -Andi x

  6. I also love this movie and I am a marilyn Monroe fan.
    See also my blog: