This 1939 film opens with the news that a killer tagged “The Gorilla” is on the loose—and intends his next victim to be the wealthy Walter Stevens. With a target on his back, Stevens hires a trio of investigators. Too bad for him they’re the comedy act, the Ritz Brothers! Complicating matters further, an actual gorilla is on the loose—and what’s with the creepy butler?
In the early Twentieth Century, films like “The Gorilla” often played on the image of these animals as terrifying monsters. Yet as visitors to Utah’s Hogle Zoon can learn, gorillas are social, complex and typically gentle, violent only if threatened.
Another trend of the film’s era is the inclusion of a comedy team. Like the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, the Ritz Brothers started as a vaudeville dance act and made the transition to films. Next-generation entertainers Danny Kaye and Jerry Lewis carried the slapstick comedy style further into the Twentieth Century.