The Monkey's Paw


58m 1933

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 13, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs in Harper's (Sep 1902) and the play of the same name by Louis N. Parker (New York, 30 Jan 1922).

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

During a blizzard, Sergeant Major Tom Morris, a one-armed British veteran, tells John White, a timid old clerk who is his longtime friend, and John's wife Jenny tales of India. Although they suspect that Tom exaggerates his stories for effect, the Whites listen intently to his accounts of the exotic East. Tom's final story is of a monkey paw that a Hindu fakir once had given him. According to the Hindu legend, anyone holding the paw may make three wishes that will come true, but will come true in a terrible, unexpected fashion. After Tom, drunk on John's strong grog, finishes his last tale, he takes out the legendary monkey's paw from his coat pocket and shows it to John and Jenny. The usually shy clerk, made bold by drink, is fascinated by the paw and steals it from Tom's coat as he is leaving his house. Later John confesses to Jenny that he took the paw as a lark and jokingly tells his son Herbert about Tom's story just as Herbert is leaving for his night shift at the local electrical plant. After Jenny retires for the night, however, John takes out the paw and wishes for £200 to buy a home for Herbert and his fiancée Rose. The next morning, a lawyer from the electrical plant knocks on the Whites's front door and informs John that, while telling his co-workers about the monkey's paw, Herbert laughed so hard he fell into the machinery and was mangled to death. The lawyer consoles John, then gives him an insurance check for two hundred pounds. After Herbert's heartbreaking funeral, Jenny and Rose berate John for his wish, and John is overwhelmed with remorse. Jenny then decides to use the paw to bring Herbert back to life and makes a wish that he be returned to the living. Immediately, John and Jenny hear knocking on their front door, and Jenny rushes to open it. While Jenny fumbles with the door's bolt, which has jammed, John realizes that Herbert will appear in his mangled state. Fearful of Jenny's reaction to the sight, John grabs the paw and makes a third wish that Herbert be returned to the grave. The knocking ceases, and when Jenny opens the door, no one is there. John then wakes up and discovers that not only has he been dreaming the entire terrible tale, but also that Herbert has been made foreman at the plant and can now marry Rose.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 13, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs in Harper's (Sep 1902) and the play of the same name by Louis N. Parker (New York, 30 Jan 1922).

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although a Film Daily news item states that The Monkey's Paw was in rehearsal in late August 1932 and was still in its pre-production phases as late as September 27, 1932, reviews dated late September and early October suggest that the film probably was shot in late summer. To capitalize on its horrific nature, the film was opened on a Friday, the 13th. According to Film Daily news items, Alan Mowbray was cast in this production but apparently did not appear in the final film. A November 1932 Film Daily news item announced that Lal Chand Mehra, who had been the official attaché for India at the recent East Olympic Games, was assigned by RKO to participate in the opening "Oriental" sequence of the film. It is not known in what capacity, if any, Mehra actually contributed to the final film. Modern sources add Nena Quartaro, LeRoy Mason, J. M. Kerrigan and Nigel De Brulier to the cast. William Wymark Jacobs' story was first filmed as a short in 1915. That British production was directed by Sidney Northcote and starred John Larson. In 1923, Manning Haynes directed Moore Marriott in another British version, which was released in America by Selznick Distributing Corp. A third British version of Jacobs' story was filmed in 1948. Norman Lee directed Milton Rosmer in that Kay Films release.