Monkey Business Review
By Christopher Null
Mr. Oxley's been complaining about her "punctuation," so she makes sure she's at her desk by nine. That's about the sum of Marilyn Monroe's contribution to Monkey Business, a screwball comedy (made about 10 years after the real end of the screwball era) featuring a kooky scientist, his patient wife, a brazen and dippy secretary, and of course a chimpanzee who's really calling the shots.
The plot involves the hunt for a youth formula by Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant), which he thinks he has discovered when a self-administered sample drives him to do such crazy things as buy a new car and crash it into a chain link fence with his boss's secretary (Monroe) riding shotgun. The only problem is that the sample hasn't done anything; it's the water, spiked by the chimp when no one was looking.
Hijinks ensue when Fulton's wife (Ginger Rogers) gives it a try (thus putting a fish down the pants of Barnaby's boss). Eventually Barnaby overdoes it, turning into a real baby (or so his wife believes). Oh, the humanity!
Director Howard Hawks knows his way around the screwball, but Monkey Business pales next to his inimitable classics like His Girl Friday. At 41, Rogers was near retirement, and her antics recall Lucille Ball (and not really in a good way). Grant is as wonderful as ever, pulling the film along when its plot drags or his co-stars ham it up too much (which is pretty often). Altogether it's good fun -- good, but not great.
Featured as part of the restored set of Monroe classics in The Diamond Collection II (see links at right).
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 7th November 1952
Box Office Worldwide: $2M
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 3
Cast & Crew
Starring: Cary Grant as Dr. Barnaby Fulton, Ginger Rogers as Mrs. Edwina Fulton, Charles Coburn as Mr. Oliver Oxley, Marilyn Monroe as Miss Lois Laurel, Hugh Marlowe as Hank Entwhistle, Henri Letondal as Dr. Jerome Kitzel, Robert O. Cornthwaite as Dr. Zoldeck, Larry Keating as G.J. Culverly, Kathleen Freeman as Mrs. Brannigan, Neighbor (uncredited), Douglas Spencer as Dr. Brunner, Esther Dale as Mrs. Rhinelander, George Winslow as Little Indian