Today is the birthday of the great producer and director (and screenwriter) Howard Hawks. It’s inevitable that I’ll do several additional blogposts on the topic on Hawks, especially on his comedies as a whole, and on his westerns. But I’m flying by the seat of my pants this month, so I thought I’d just give a little shout out to a movie of his I discovered recently – – and really love.
I’d of course heard about Monkey Business for years but never got around to seeing it until a few months ago. And it’s freaking HILARIOUS, my favorite Hawks comedy now, with the exception of Twentieth Century. (Sorry, I’ve never been hugely enamored of Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday. Maybe too much hype preceded them. They’re okay, and they’re exceptionally well-made, but they don’t exactly get me rolling in the aisles). But Monkey Business does. Cary Grant plays a scientist who invents an elixir of youth, and accidentaly drinks some through the intercession of a mischievous lab chimp. At various times so does his wife (Ginger Rogers), so that at alternating times the mature couple start acting like extremely wild 20 year olds — hypersexual, irresponsible hellions. The one scene pictured above, where the normally near-sighted Grant takes Marilyn Monroe on a terrifying ride in a sports car is priceless. Another aspect I like about this picture it deals with the age of its two stars (Grant and Rogers) realistically; it’s even a little self-referential.
Highly recommended comedy viewing:
For more on comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etcTo find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.