I have to say right now that this movie is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant had me doubled over with laughter. I always thought that Cary Grant was really good in comedic roles, but he truly had me laughing out loud in this one. Ginger Rogers was also very good in her role.
Monkey Business was directed by Howard Hawks. It also stars Charles Coburn as Oliver Oxley, Marilyn Monroe as Lois Laurel, and Hugh Marlowe as Hank Entwhistle. Monkey Business was released on September 2, 1952. Cary Grant plays Barnaby Fulton and Ginger Rogers plays his wife Edwina Fulton.
Dr. Barnaby Fulton is a middle-aged research scientist who is always serious and kind of fuddy duddy. Dr. Fulton also does not like to go out much. He would rather stay home thinking about his present research project.
Barnaby is too mentally preoccupied to go out with Edwina to a dinner function they are expected to attend.
Edwina decides to give in to her husband’s reluctance to go out and she goes into the kitchen to prepare dinner for them.
Frank Entwhistle is a friend of the Fulton’s and shows up at their house to find out why they called to cancel attending the function. Frank has romantic feelings for Edwina and wanted to marry her many years ago, but Edwina loves Barnaby. I thought it took a lot of nerve for Hank to show up at their house demanding answers. Edwina and Barnaby are two grown people who can make up their own minds about going out or not.
The next day Barnaby goes to his laboratory where he is working on a fountain of youth pill for the Oxley Chemical Company. Every formula that Barnaby concocts is tested on chimpanzees.
There is a chimpanzee named Esther who lets herself out of her cage while Barnaby is out of his laboratory. Esther who is very childlike starts mixing the chemicals into a beaker as she has seen Barnaby do from her cage. Afterwards Esther innocently pours her mixture into the water cooler.
Unaware of Esther’s antics, Barnaby drinks water from the cooler after he uses himself as a guinea pig for his own formula. A few minutes later Barnaby not only has 20/20 vision, but he has the stamina and mind of a twenty year old.
Barnaby goes out and gets a crew cut, new clothes fit for a much younger man and a sports car.
Barnaby is driving Oliver Oxley’s secretary, Lois, around in the car at breakneck speed. At first Lois is enjoying the ride but then she realizes that Barnaby could get them both killed with his daredevil driving.
Barnaby does end up in a fender bender. While the car is being fixed, Barnaby, still under the influence, takes Lois roller skating and swimming.
The formula wears off and Barnaby is back to his old self again, but then Edwina drinks down some of if and washes it down with water from the cooler.
Edwina begins acting like a silly teenage girl. One the dance floor Edwina wears Barnaby out and generally causes a lot of trouble for Barnaby while she is under the influence of the spiked water.
This scene with Edwina’s mother and Hank Entwhistle I found hysterical. Edwina is no longer under the influence, but she did and said things that were horrible which causes Barnaby think about the damage a fountain of youth pill can do to relationships.
After what Barnaby experiences with Edwina he decides to destroy the formula, but he still does not realize that it is the mixture that Esther poured into the water cooler. In the laboratory Edwina makes them coffee using the water in the cooler and both of them drink several cups of coffee. Edwina and Barnaby mentally revert back to when they were very young.
During a meeting with the Oxley Company board Edwina starts blowing bubbles with the gum that she is chewing.
Barnaby is under the conference room table tickling Esther. This scene is hysterical!
Barnaby gets upset because of what Edwina writes about him on the blackboard and they start arguing like 6 year olds.
Barnaby and Edwina leave the meeting and head home, but not without some more funny hijinks.
Still under the influence Barnaby plots with some other children to lure Hank Entwhistle over and scalp him.
The children ask Hank to play the Maypole game with them.
I really enjoyed watching Monkey Business immensely. It is great slapstick humor that was quite popular in the 1950’s. The humor in this movie is in watching grown adults act like children. It may seem immature and a waste to some people, but to me this movie is a treasure. I laughed so hard even after the movie ended just thinking about it.