THE CHIMP (1932) – Laurel & Hardy monkey around


(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

The Chimp is essentially Angora Love or Laughing Gravy with a monkey. It starts out interestingly, with Stan and Ollie as performers for an underwhelming traveling circus. In their usual well-meaning way, they manage to destroy what’s left of the enterprise, forcing the owner to declare bankruptcy and divide the circus’s acts among the unpaid performers. Stan gets the flea circus; Ollie gets Ethel the gorilla (Charles Gamora).

The rest of the movie involves them trying to sneak the gorilla past their hotel room’s manager (Billy Gilbert). They also try to avoid the circus’s wayward lion, who unconvincingly chases them during their escapades. (Stan and Ollie run down a path, then the movie conspicuously intercuts a shot of the lion roaming the same path. Not exactly enough to strike fear into moviegoers’ hearts.)

The funniest moments involve H.M. Walker’s intertitles (“The night was dark — they usually are”) and a lion-chase moment where Stan tells Ollie, “I just saw M-G-M!” The rest is pretty mechanical stuff, especially when the manager hears L&H talking to Ethel the chimp and thinks they’re having amenage-a-trois with Ethel his wife. Something about the incongruity of great movie comics with guys in chimp costumes (remember The Marx Bros.’ At the Circus?) practically screams out desperation.

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