A PRIMATE starring in a Hollywood film sounds like box office gold that makes all other cinema redundant. But surprisingly, often that’s not the case:
Every Which Way But Loose, 1978
The best of the ape movies because it has a driver’s mate orangutan called Clyde that punches people. Also Clint Eastwood was unable to choose between the 70s careers of trucker and bare-knuckle fighter. But it doesn’t feature Clyde as much as it should, ie. in every scene, nor does he get any dialogue.
King Kong, 1933
The gorilla is big – like, really big – but he’s barely in it. Also he wasn’t a real gorilla. Idiots think it’s a cinematic classic. Don’t waste your time.
Bedtime for Bonzo, 1951
Ronald Reagan tries to teach a suicidal criminal chimpanzee that it can live a good, moral life, which as a premise is electrifying. But it’s just a basic screwball comedy where, as ever, the ape is underused. Though as it’s a 50s film he probably smokes in it.
Dunston Checks In, 1996
Another jewel thief ape, the titular Dunston, who runs riot in a five-star hotel pushing people into cakes and giving massages. Has issues, but could have been a franchise to rival Mission Impossible. Bombed because people are stupid.
Gorillas In The Mist, 1988
When you hear a title like that the imagination runs wild. Mist clears to reveal gorillas breakdancing, doing BMX tricks, playing in crazy bands and flying autogyros. What you actually get is a serious drama about poaching. Avoid.
Planet of the Apes, 1968
Pleasingly high ape-to-screen ratio, entirely ruined by the apes first being men in suits and then turning out to be the baddies. Completely implausible.
Tarzan’s New York Adventure, 1942
The Tarzan bits are boring but there’s an incredible scene with Cheeta the chimp in a New York hotel room answering phones and breaking stuff. Sadly the Hays Code forbade a scene where he shat in his hands and flung it across the lobby, spattering Margaret Dumont, and the footage has since been lost.