The Gorilla (1939)

thegorilla1939I admit I’ve never been familiar with the comedy of the Ritz Brothers before. I just happened upon “The Gorilla” one night and couldn’t stop laughing while watching the comedy team happen upon Bela Lugosi. I’ve read from some that this isn’t their best comic output. If this is them at their weakest, I’m excited to see what their best is. “The Gorilla” is a public domain horror comedy that can literally be seen anywhere, from DVD, VHS, or Youtube, and I was able to watch one of the five copies available on the site for this review. Suffice it to say, I still find the 1939 horror comedy quite hilarious.

“The Gorilla” is set during a crime spree where a serial killer known as the gorilla is running around wreaking havoc, stealing precious items from rich people and murdering his victims. Just then a wealthy businessman is threatened by the Gorilla and in come the Ritz Brothers, playing a trio of detectives investigating the culprit behind the threats. While in the dark mansion where lightning and thunder roar outside, the detectives have to contend with a spooky butler, as played by Bela Lugosi, and an easily rattled maid.

She’s played by the hilarious Patsy Kelly, who delivers hysterical one-liners to the inept detectives, and pulls off priceless double takes and horrified reactions. Her introduction involving her fond good night after reading Shakespeare resulting in a confrontation with the Gorilla is still raucously funny and brilliantly timed. I especially loved character Harrigan’s disastrous confrontation with Lugosi, and his battle with a wall attached ironing board. “The Gorilla” sadly ends on a flat note with a disappointing reveal of the mysterious Gorilla killer, and a somewhat unsatisfying fade to black, but it’s still a short and sweet horror comedy that garners a few laughs, and some fun horror tropes.