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USA 1952
Directed by
Howard Hawks
97 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Monkey Business

Howard Hawks' revisits the terrain of his screwball comedy classic Bringing up Baby (1939) with Cary Grant once again in the lead but with Ginger Rogers replacing Katharine Hepburn

Grant plays an absent-minded research chemist, Dr Barnaby Fulton, who is working on a "fountain of youth" formula and Rogers is his doting wife, Edwina. Taking his own medicine, Barnaby thinks it is successful but doesn't realize that a lab chimpanzee has dumped some other chemicals into the water cooler.  Madcap goings on ensue.

Although scripted by screenwriting legends Ben Hecht, I.A.L. Diamond, and Charles Lederer, Monkey Business is more often silly than amusing. This wouldn’t have been a problem in the early ‘50s when America was going through a post-war regression into infantilism and one can imagine contemporary audiences enjoying the film but today it holds few charms. Grant’s schtick seems tired and Rogers is ill-suited to the part. Most of the laughs come from Charles Coburn and Marilyn Monroe who plays his air-headed sexpot secretary (one of the best jokes comes when he asks her to get a letter typed because he knows that she isn’t up to it.  When Marilyn has left the room, Coburn turns to a puzzled Grant and with a shrug says:"Anyone can type".

FYI: Hawks would again pair up Monroe and Coburn to good effect the following year in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes




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