Captive Wild Woman (1943) – Edward Dmytryk

John Carradine as a detached, and insane scientist, who somehow still gets work, an animal trainer who wants a shot at the big top, and a gorilla suit that becomes a beautiful women with strange powers over the animals of the circus.

It’s all here in the next big title in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies as I continue my exploration of the chapter on monstrous apes.

Fred Mason (Milburn Stone) is an animal hunter and trainer who has returned from his list expedition with a slew of animals, and one horrible looking, man in a suit, gorilla.

At the same time, Dorothy (Martha Vickers), the younger sister of Fred’s main squeeze, Beth (Evelyn Ankers) has gone to see Dr. Sigmund Walters (Carradine) for dealing with her stress, and sudden weight loss, brought on, perhaps, by her responsibilities at the same circus that employees Fred.

Obviously Beth didn’t do any vetting on Walters, because he decides right away to use Dorothy, and the recently kidnapped ape, to prove his theories about glands. With transfusions and injections from Dorothy, he transforms the ridiculous looking gorilla into a lovely woman he christens Paula (Acquanetta).

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He is eager to see how she reacts when reintroduced to Fred, the person who captured her and fostered a bit of a friendship with her. With Paula around, the other animals at the circus are frightened, and this gives Fred a chance in the big ring with some big felines. As long as Paula hangs around.

When she realizes that her feelings for Jim aren’t returned, her forward evolution regresses to her animal state which could be horrible for everyone, including the viewer.

Honestly. this one was just silly. The ape costume was horrible, but Carradine’s performance was wicked to see, it’s reserved and evil all in the same breath, and he’s just so calm in his dark motives. Until he strikes.

Only running an hour, this is perfect popcorn fare. You turn your mind off, roll your eyes, watch actors chew the scenery, and accept that justice and comeuppance after some form or other will be served.

I will say this, they made sure that Stone’s double, the actual animal trainer in the ring interacting with the lions and tigers actually looked enough like Stone to allow the viewer to engage in that oh so important suspension of disbelief.

It should come as no surprise, that this is really not my favorite chapter of the book, but I am definitely enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would.

And perhaps, so will you. Why not pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something monstrous to watch tonight?

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