review of The Chimp (1932) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert
Laurel and Hardy’s The Chimp is reminiscent of another of their short films, Laughing Gravy, where the bulk of the film deals with them trying to hide a pet (in this case, a gorilla) from their landlord. The Chimp begins with Laurel and Hardy working at a circus, where Hal Roach Studio regular James Finlayson is the ringmaster. Strangely enough, however, Finlayson is not their primary antagonist in the film; instead, after a short, but very funny, bit where Stan and Ollie are working as a pantomime horse, and then as assistants to “Destructo” the circus strong man (my favorite bit from the movie, in fact, is their “helping” the circus strong man with his act, ruining it) ending with destroying the circus by firing a cannon through the circus tent.
Shortly afterward, the circus goes bankrupt – oddly enough, not because of the antics of Laurel and Hardy – and the circus owner pays off the circus workers with the only things he has left – the pieces of the circus itself. Stan Laurel is paid off with a flea circus, and Oliver Hardy is paid off with “the star of the show”, Ethel the gorilla.
The two attempt to box Ethel in a crate in order to move her. But Ethel has other ideas and manages to box Ollie instead. In the meanwhile, Stan inadvertently releases “MGM”, the circus’ lion. They head into town and attempt to get a room at a boarding house, run by Billy Gilbert, who is already stressed since his wife, also named Ethel, is still out late at night. After a moment of pandemonium when Stan brings Ethel the gorilla into the boarding house, the boys are allowed to stay, provided that they leave Ethel the gorilla outside. Oliver removes his pants, coat, and hat, and dresses Ethel the gorilla in them, disguising her in order for Stan to smuggle her into the room. The best-laid plans go astray, however, such as when they throw Oliver’s clothes down to him, only to have them get stuck on a nail.
Eventually, all of them get into the room and try to get some sleep, while poor Billy Gilbertson is still waiting for his wife, Emily, to come home. Unfortunately, another tenant begins playing music at 3:00 in the morning and the trained monkey begins dancing, first with Stanley and then with Ollie, who tells “Ethel” to stop that and get into bed, before the landlord throws them all out. Billy Gilbert overhears this and assumes that his wife is in Stan and Ollie’s room, and barges in with his gun. After pouring his heart out to Ethel (the gorilla, covered up in bed), Billy Gilbert’s wife shows up, and the film ends in chaos as Ethel the gorilla grabs the gun and beings shooting at random.
While The Chimp isn’t one of the best comedies, it certainly is enjoyable – I rate it 3 clowns out of 5.
Funny movie quotes from The Chimp, starring Laurel and Hardy
Title card: Mr. Laurel never got any further than the monkey cage. Mr. Hardy’s aesthetic nature thrilled at the beauties of circus life.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): That settles it! That’s the last time that I’m gonna be this end of the horse!
Stan (Stan Laurel): Well I can’t go in there.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): Why?
Stan (Stan Laurel): Well you look better in that end than I do.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): Do you mean to insinuate that I look like a horse’s … [interrupted]
Title Card: The night was dark – they usually are
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): Well, I can’t sleep with the monkey!
Stan (Stan Laurel): Oh, she doesn’t mind. [to Ethel] You don’t mind sleeping with Ollie, do you? [to Ollie] No, she doesn’t.
Stan (Stan Laurel): It might get cold and die of ammonia.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): He means pu-monia.
Billy Gilbert: I don’t care if you all die of pu-monia!
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): Now why did you come running in there with the monkey?
Stan (Stan Laurel): I just saw MGM.
title card: 3 o’clock – if nothing happens, it will soon be 3:30