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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Hairy Ape (1944)

Traveling on a small freighter during WWII from Lisbon to New York, a spoiled rich girl (Susan Hayward) encounters the ship's chief stoker (William Bendix). She is repulsed by his neanderthal brutish look and way and insults him by calling him a hairy ape. This has a devastating effect on the simple minded brute. Very loosely based on the 1922 play by Eugene O'Neill and directed by Alfred Santell. O'Neill's play was an expressionistic piece with a political and social subtext about social class and industrialization with a downbeat ending. This film adaptation jettisons all that and even gives us a ridiculously lame "happy" ending. I rather liked Hayward's rich bitch because everyone else around her was either dumb enough to do her bidding or not see through her manipulation. She had a contempt for everyone and I can't say that I blame her, at least as they are written. The film appears to be leading to something terrible, it's almost a horror film with the neanderthal Bendix stalking Hayward and when he finally confronts her, you expect the worst. What we get is ludicrous. With John Loder, Dorothy Comingore (CITIZEN KANE), Alan Napier and Tom Fadden.

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