Film (1941). Paramount Pictures. Produced by Jack Moss. Directed by Stuart Heisler. Written by Anthony Stuart from his story. Cast includes Rod Cameron, Ellen Drew, Charles Gemora, Paul Lukas, Robert Paige, Onslow Stevens, Phillip Terry and George Zucco. 65 minutes. Black and white.
Susan Webster (Drew) leaves her small town to come to New York, where meets and marries Larry Reid (Paige). Unfortunately, as she discovers the following morning, Reid is a member of a gang of mobsters led by Bruhl (Lukas), and that it was all a ruse to coerce her into prostitution. Her brother Scott Webster (Terry) comes to the city searching for her, only to be framed for murder by Bruhl and his henchmen. Tried and sentenced to death, Scott is approached by Scientist Dr Peary (Zucco) who asks permission to use his brain after his death: Scott agrees. After his execution, Peary and his assistant take Scott's body to their laboratory where his brain is transplanted into the body of an ape (Gemora) (see Apes as Humans; Identity Transfer). Now having Scott's intelligence and memories, he breaks free to take vengeance on those responsible for his death, starting with the District Attorney (Stevens).
Meanwhile, reporter Sam Daniels (Cameron) has become attracted to Susan, and is trying to help her as members of the gang are mysteriously one by one being crushed to death. Bruhl abducts Susan, and tries to force her to reveal who is doing the killing which she can't tell him. As Bruhl and Reid are about to kill Ellen, the ape bursts in on them, kills Bruhl and Reid – who shoots it, but the ape kills him before dying at Susan's feet. It is implied that she and Daniels will now marry.
This low-budget Horror in SF film is unintentionally humorous at times, yet benefits from many solid character actors including Stevens, Tom Dugan, Marc Lawrence and Edward Van Sloan. Animal impersonator Gemora played apes and gorillas in countless films, and also occasionally Aliens; he was the Martian glimpsed briefly in War of the Worlds (1953). [GFi]
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