Cast & Crew
Absentminded scientist Barnaby Fulton is discouraged when his formula, which he hopes will reverse the ill effects of aging, proves ineffective on his test chimpanzees, Rudolph and Esther. Barnaby is encouraged by his wife Edwina, who loves her brilliant husband despite his eccentric behavior. One morning, when Barnaby arrives at the Oxly Chemical Factory, where he works as a free-lance scientist, he is summoned to president Oliver Oxly's office. The elderly Oxly hopes that Barnaby's formula will be financially successful, and will enable him to pursue his curvaceous secretary, Lois Laurel. Oxly shows Barnaby the ad campaign he has devised for the formula, which he has named B-4, but Barnaby urges him to be patient. Oxly's hopes are raised when it appears that the aged Rudolph is bounding around like a youngster, but it is revealed that Rudolph's numbered uniform was inadvertently switched with that of the younger, mischevious Esther. Barnaby begins work, but when he leaves the laboratory, Esther frees herself, and copying Barnaby, mixes a batch of the ingredients for his formula.
Just before Barnaby returns, Esther pours her chemicals into the water cooler, after which Barnaby mixes his own batch. Against the wishes of his assistant, Dr. Jerome Lenton, Barnaby swallows the formula, and its bitter taste forces him to get some water from the cooler. Soon Barnaby notices that his bursitis no longer hurts, and that he can see without his thick glasses. Overcome by a feeling of euphoria, Barnaby leaves the laboratory and has his mature haircut changed to a more youthful crewcut, then buys a loud, checked sportscoat. Next, at the car dealership, Barnaby purchases a sports car, and asks Miss Laurel, who has been sent to find him, to go for a ride. Barnaby flirts with Miss Laurel as they race, then roller skate and swim, and she rewards him with a kiss on the cheek. She pouts upon discovering that Barnaby is married, however, and after his return to the lab, Barnaby falls asleep. When he awakens, the effects of the formula have worn off, although the just-arrived Edwina is nonplussed by the tale of his antics, as well as the lipstick on his cheek. Barnaby, who states that the formula made him act like a twenty year old, assures Edwina that the kiss meant nothing, but in order to keep her husband from experimenting on himself again, Edwina takes the next batch of formula he concocts. Edwina drinks a cup of water and soon she, too, is acting like a twenty year old. Edwina and Barnaby elude the inquiring Oxly, after which Edwina demands that they go to the hotel where they honeymooned.
At the hotel, Edwina's energy exhausts Barnaby, and when they finally prepare for bed, Edwina, acting like a new bride, begins to cry for her mother. The couple are soon quarreling, and when Barnaby gently pushes Edwina away from his fallen glasses, she throws him out of their room and calls their lawyer, Hank Entwhistle, to tell him that Barnaby has brutalized her and that she wants a divorce. Blind without his glasses, Barnaby winds up in the laundry room, where he spends the night. In the morning, the fully recovered Edwina takes Barnaby home and tells Hank, who is in love with her, that she wishes to call off the divorce. Disheartened by Edwina's brief wish to leave him, and her revelation that Hank had once kissed her, Barnaby decides that his formula causes only chaos and should be destroyed.
At the lab, Edwina uses the cooler water to brew a pot of coffee, and after several cups, she and Barnaby begin to act like ten year olds. Oxly, who has heard about the success of the formula, calls in the board of directors and urges them to offer Barnaby anything he wants for the rights. Barnaby and Edwina are then brought to the meeting, where Barnaby asks for a "zillion" dollars for his formula. Barnaby and Edwina escape the confines of the lab, but as they walk home, Edwina's attempts to play annoy the now girl-hating Barnaby. Barnaby then runs off to join some youngsters who are playing "Indian," while Edwina returns home and calls Hank to complain about Barnaby, then takes a nap. As Edwina sleeps, Barnaby dresses like an Indian and talks his little cohorts into scalping Hank, of whom he is still jealous. When a recovered Edwina awakens, she discovers that a neighbor's baby, Johnny, has crawled into her bed, and mistakenly assumes that Barnaby has taken an overdose of the formula and reverted to infancy. While Edwina dashes to the laboratory with Johnny in her arms, Barnaby and his pals succeed in capturing Hank and cutting his hair into a mohawk style.
At the laboratory, Oxly, Lenton and the other astonished scientists gather around Johnny, whom they, too, believe to be Barnaby. Edwina lays the baby down on Barnaby's office couch, hoping that if he sleeps, he will return to normal. While the men pace outside, they drink water from the cooler, and Oxly orders that the bitter-tasting water be thrown out. Barnaby then climbs through the window to his office, and Edwina soon finds him. Realizing her mistake, Edwina laughingly greets her recovered husband, then goes with him to the outer laboratory. There, they are amazed to see Oxly, the board members and the scientists acting like children, until Lenton deduces what Esther had done. Content to leave Oxly chasing Miss Laurel with a seltzer bottle, the Fultons leave. Three days later, with a new Oxly contract ensuring his future, a romantic-minded Barnaby tells Edwina that a person is old only when he forgets that he is young.
Peggy, A Chimp
Bingo, A Chimp
Harry Carey Jr.
I. A. L. Diamond
W. D. Flick
R. L. Hough
F. E. Johnston
William B. Murphy
Walter M. Scott
Sol C. Siegel
Monkey Business (1952)
Howard Hawks' screwball comedy, Monkey Business (1952), is a case in point. Although it contains a handful of very funny sequences and features the inspired comic pairing of Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe in several scenes, the picture is highly derivative of 1938's Bringing Up Baby, which also starred Grant and was directed by Hawks. The absurd plot of Monkey Business also kicks into gear via an animal that gets referenced in the title ("Baby," in case you haven't seen the first film, was a troublemaking leopard.)
Grant, just as he did in Bringing Up Baby, plays an absent-minded professor, except that this one has thicker glasses and speaks slower than the first one did. The professor, Barnaby Fulton, has been trying to find a way to reverse the aging process. He's not having any luck, but a monkey that's caged in his lab escapes one night, mixes together some of Barnaby's chemicals, and pours them in the water cooler. The next day, when Barnaby drinks from the cooler wouldn't you know it he suddenly starts acting like a much younger man!
Soon, he's behaving like a college freshman, even going so far as to buy a sports car so he can drive his boss' sexy, flabbergasted secretary (Monroe, whose dim-bulb character gets to work early because she's been told to work on her "punctuation") around town with him. It's all innocent enough. But Barnaby's wife, Edwina (Ginger Rogers), senses something is up, of course. Before long, Edwina drinks from the tainted water cooler as well and starts acting like an exceptionally silly adolescent girl. Soon, she and Barnaby are screaming and playing games like belligerent school children and the situation deteriorates from there.
"I don't think the premise of the film was really believable," Hawks himself later said, "and for that reason it was not as funny as it should have been." He also wasn't particularly pleased to be working with Rogers, who was forced on him by the studio. Originally, Hawks wanted only Grant's character to experience the effects of the serum. But Rogers insisted on also "getting young," and Hawks felt her scenes were easily the weakest in the picture...and many critics at the time agreed.
Still, Monkey Business is frequently hilarious, and it did manage to cast a spell over Jacques Rivette, a highly influential critic (and, later, a talented director) who wrote for the groundbreaking French film digest, Cahiers du Cinema. Strangely enough, Rivette came to view Monkey Business as one of the masterworks of the studio era, and he wasn't shy about announcing it.
The title of Rivette's famous 1953 essay, The Genius of Howard Hawks, is on the money - Hawks was a superior craftsman, and he successfully worked in more different genres than any of his peers. But Rivette's lengthy rumination on Monkey Business's thematic complexity is the kind of thing that makes otherwise intelligent people blanche at the very concept of film criticism. His unyielding opening passage sets the tone - "The evidence on the screen is the proof of Hawks' genius: you only have to watch Monkey Business to know that it is a brilliant film. Some people refuse to admit this, however; they refuse to be satisfied by proof. There can't be any other reason why they don't recognize it." One passage even compares Grant's regression to early childhood to the plight of the down-sliding lead character in The Blue Angel (1930), a classic slice of Germanic misery in which a dignified college professor is systematically humiliated by a sexy, pitiless showgirl. "It is by no means facile to compare these two similar tales of ruin," Rivette wrote. "We recall how the themes of damnation and malediction in the German cinema had imposed the same rigorous progression from the likable to the hideous."
Be that as it may, Monkey Business is far more enjoyable if you banish any themes of damnation and malediction from your consciousness while Grant plays cowboys and Indians with a bunch of second graders. The monkey, for his part, is pretty funny too.
Director: Howard Hawks
Producer: Sol C. Siegel
Screenplay: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer and I.A.L. Diamond (based on a story by Harry Segall)
Cinematography: Milton Krasner
Editing: William B. Murphy
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler and George Patrick
Set Design: Thomas Little and Walter M. Scott
Special Effects: Ray Kellogg
Costume Design: Travilla
Makeup: Ben Nye
Music: Leigh Harline Cast: Cary Grant (Prof. Barnaby Fulton), Ginger Rogers (Edwina Fulton), Charles Coburn (Mr. Oliver Oxley), Marilyn Monroe (Lois Laurel), Hugh Marlowe (Harvey Entwhistle), Henri Letondal (Dr. Jerome Linten), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Zoldeck), Larry Keating (Mr. G.J. Culverly), Douglas Spencer (Dr. Brunner), Esther Dale (Mrs. Rhinelander), George ³Foghorn² Winslow (Little Indian), Emmett Lynn (Jimmy).
B&W-97m. Closed Captioning.
by Paul Tatara
Monkey Business (1952)
Find someone to type this.- Oliver Oxley
Mr. Oxley complained about my punctuation, so I made sure I got here before nine.- Lois Laurel
Aw, c'mon; let's scalp him!- Barnaby
No; first, we gotta do a war dance!- Winslow, George
The exterior shots of the Oxley Chemical Co. office building where Barnaby works was actually the Executive Building on the 20th Century Fox studio lot. It is now known as the Old Executive Building.
The working title of this film was Darling, I Am Growing Younger. Before and after the film's above-title cast credits, there is a shot of Cary Grant coming out of a house, and an offscreen voice tells him "Not yet, Cary." Grant then goes back inside the house. According to a modern source, the voice is that of director Howard Hawks. According to a June 30, 1951 Los Angeles Examiner news item, Danny Kaye was originally set to star in the picture, and a modern source reports that Hawks considered Ava Gardner for the female lead. Although Hollywood Reporter news items include the following actors in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed: Charlotte Austin, Pauline Garon, Pat Combs, Perk Lazelle, Lorelei Vitek, Rita Leonard and Virgil Johansen, who served as Charles Coburn's stand-in. Hollywood Reporter news items also include Mary Field and Frank Ferguson in the cast, but they do not appear in the finished film.
According to information in the MPAA/PCA file at the AMPAS Library, the Breen Office rejected a February 6, 1952 version of the screenplay, stating: "the reason for this unacceptability lies in the fact that the story of Dr. Fulton's youth formula amounts to a story of the invention of an aphrodisiac, which mainly exploits the lurid, or what might be called 'sexsational' aspects of such a drug." After meeting with Hawks and producer Sol C. Siegel, the PCA decreed that the script would be acceptable if the nature of the youth formula was changed, including changing its name from "Cupidone" to a "pseudo-scientific type of vitamin," and if "Oliver Oxly's" sexual interest in "Lois Laurel" was made less overt. The revised screenplay was approved in mid-March 1952.
Although numerous contemporary sources refer to Henri Letondal's character as "Siegfried Kitzel," he is called "Dr. Jerome Lenton" in the film. Hugh Marlowe's character is listed as "Harvey Entwhistle" by contemporary sources, but he is called "Hank" in the picture. According to a modern source, Grant sued Twentieth Century-Fox in the early 1970s after the studio used clips from Monkey Business in a documentary about Marilyn Monroe. Grant won the case and was awarded ten dollars in damages. Monkey Business marked the fifth and final collaboration between Grant and Hawks.
Released in United States Fall September 1952
Released in United States Fall September 1952