Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The Ritz Brothers were the poor man's Marx Brothers, or (perhaps) The Three Stooges.  They have their fans and their detractors, but they were very popular in their day.

There are eight million gorilla stories in the naked city.  This is one of them.

Bela Lugosi. Lionel Atwill, Patsy Kelly, and Jimmy, Harry and Al Ritz are featured in this murder mystery/comedy about a fake gorilla and a real gorilla.  I like this one because Lowell-born (as am I) Art Miles played the gorilla (he went on to play a gorilla in at least three other films); IMDB gives Miles 88 film credits, mostly uncredited and mostly in minor roles.  Also featured are Anita Louise (perhaps most recognizable by geezers from her work in the My Friend Flicka television show), Joseph Calleia (usually seen in a bad-guy role), hoofer/comic Wally Vernon, recognizable character actor Paul Harvey, and B-movie star Edward Norris.

     The Gorilla was directed by Allan Dwan (Sands of Iwo Jima, Heidi, and over 400 other features, starting in 1911).  The script was written by Ryan James and Sid Silver from a play by Ralph Spence.

     I like cheesy films and I like gorilla suits.  The combination is just too much for me to resist.  Can you resist this one?


  1. Heretically, I like the Ritzes better than I do the Stooges, but not as much as I do the Marxes. I understand that the Ritzes were as ill-served in film as Zeppo Marx was (Zeppo was apparently in person as funny as any of his brothers, but was added to the family act late, after Gummo stepped out, and Groucho particularly was jealous of Z and made sure his role was a minimal as possible).

  2. The Ritz Brothers were feuding with their studio 20th Century Fox and when they saw the script for this old chestnut, they at first refused to do it. After a delay of a few weeks, they finally returned and filming got underway. As this was early in Lugosi's comeback, I've always hoped he remained on salary during the delay.

    Lugosi had one of his early red herring role as a butler. Lionel Atwell is always interesting and is here. The brothers are about as unfunny in this as any comedic team this side of the Bowery Boys. This was their last film for 20th and moved next to Universal.

    Patsy Kelly gives the best performance. A veteran of many great Hal Roach films (as in her series with Thelma Todd), she brings much needed energy to this dreary programmer.

  3. My Mom used to talk about THE RITZ BROTHERS but I don't hink I ever saw one of their pictures.