Monday, May 02, 2005

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla

Ever see this picture? "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" 1952. I saw it years ago and only recently broke down (and I do mean broke down) to buy a copy on DVD.
It was from one of those $1 DVD hoppers in Walmart. People come scrounging in these things like pigs to a trough, looking for some entertainment and only find the same public domain crap from the days of $1 VHS tapes. These were the pictures that every nickel and dime TV station had a 16mm print of in the 80s.
Anyway, the movie is a mad scientist/jungle pic with a couple of Martin and Lewis impersonators...Duke Mitchell and Sam Petrillo.

Petrillo's performance is so plagiarist and exacting of a young Jerry Lewis, you wonder how someone ok'd this movie.
Apparently Lewis wasn't a fan of Petrillo's performance and tried to ruin both of the comedian's careers.
Ramona, the monkey, is one of the funniest things in the picture. There's also a guy fartin' around in an ape suit. (..the real reason I bought the DVD..) I'm a connoisseur of monkey suits and this one reminded me a 3 Stooges ape suit....the one from around the Shemp era. Steve Calvert (uncredited) wore the suit and also wore it in the (supposedly) related prequal "Bride of the Gorilla". Ray "Crash" Corrigan also wore a suit similar to the Calvert design in movies like, "Captive Wild Women", "Mark of the Gorilla", and "Nabonga".

You gotta see this picture at least once and be dumbstruck by Petrillo's dead on performance. The pacing and gag work is dodgey as it's directed by William "one shot" Beaudine. Named as such because of his style of shooting one take and moving on. (Beaudine also directed some faves like, "Charlie Chan and the Feathered Serpent", "Ghost Chasers", "Ghosts on the Loose", and "Phantom Killer".)
For a buck, it was worth it to watch Bela stoically fend off Petrillo scene after scene. I get the idea, Bela probably didn't like him off set either.


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