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The Ape Woman

The Ape Woman(1964)

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Antonio, a 40-year-old Neapolitan small-time operator out for the "fast buck," discovers his golden opportunity while showing "cultural" slides of bare-breasted Africans to residents of a home for the poor run by Catholic nuns. Maria, an inmate of the home, is normal in all respects except that her face and body are completely covered by hair. Antonio manages to convince the shy, self-conscious girl to leave with him to become a freak attraction as "The Ape Woman," supposedly captured in Africa. The act attains some financial success, but the humiliation is too much for the girl and she returns to the home. Antonio succeeds in getting her back with a marriage proposal and makes sure that the wedding is well-publicized. Although he tries to avoid consummation, Maria's threats of annulment change his mind. They join a troupe of performers and travel to Paris where Maria's striptease act is a sensation. Maria becomes pregnant and, although advised to have the pregnancy aborted for fear that the child will be abnormal, determines to have the baby. The baby is born completely normal, and Maria's body's reaction to pregnancy and birth causes her to lose the unnatural hair. She is transformed into a normal, attractive woman. Antonio is at first enraged by the loss of his "meal ticket" but finally realizes the blessing of the change for Maria. He takes a steady, honest job to support his family, and they eventually settle into a normal existence. [In the Italian release version, unlike the version shown in Paris, Maria and her baby die during childbirth, and Antonio exhibits their mummies in order to pay his debts.]