Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Case Of The Curious Gorilla!

Gorilla At Large is an outstanding title for a movie. Alas this 1954 (originally 3-D) effort falls short of the stellar title.

The set up is pretty basic. A small circus features a somewhat weird headline act which combines a beautiful trapeze artist Laverne (Anne Bancroft) and a seemingly vicious gorilla called "Goliath" for a thrill spectacle to go along with the usual rides and whatnot. The place is owned and run by Cyrus Miller (Raymond Burr - not yet Perry Mason and doesn't even rate a mention on the posters somehow) who also it seems is married to  Laverne and there is history galore as the circus it seems is bristling with ambitions and dashed dreams.

Into this mix come two innocents, a pair of lovebirds named Joey (Cameron Mitchell) and Audrey  (Charlotte Austin) who are just using the circus to scare up enough money to get hitched and for Joey (a Marine vet) to go to college and get his law degree. But Laverne seems to have eyes for Joey's muscles much to the chagrin of her hubby who it seems might've once upon a time had the Joey role himself, as Laverne's former husband Kovacs (Peter Whitney) still works for the circus as Goliath's trainer.

Throw in a few more oddball characters including weirdly Lee Marvin in a comedy relief role, and you have a  brew which bubbles along while the movie tries over and over to attack your sense with some meager 3-D gimmicks (which by definition fall flat in my dvd versions...sigh). A few murders happen and Lee J. Cobb shows up to do his turn as a small town cop trying to find out what dark secrets lie beneath the big top, and after a while he starts taking direction from the erstwhile Joey. Why Cobb doesn't smack the smart alec kid is anyone's guess, but he doesn't and I guess we're supposed to root for Joey, but I find him mostly a doofus.

Goliath is played by George Barrows, a veteran ape actor who is not terribly convincing as an ape, but certainly puts on a pretty decent character.

Barrows had played "Ro-Man", the peculiar helmet-headed alien invader in the aptly named Robot Monster from 1953,

Gorilla at Large is harmless movie with a rather impressive cast but a seriously stupid mystery which makes less sense the more you think on it.

I watched Gorilla as Large on a Midnite Movies Double Feature. The other flick was a tiresome 1981's yawner titled Mystery on Monster Island which is not worthy of an individual review (at least by me). Aside from some brief scenes by veteran Peter Cushing the movie is a large waste of time. To be fair though it does contain some of the most laughable forced perspective giant monsters I've ever seen in a professional movie.

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