The Hairy Ape (1944)

90 mins | Drama | 16 June 1944

Director:

Alfred Santell

Producer:

Jules Levey

Cinematographer:

Lucien Andriot

Editor:

Harvey Manger

Production Designer:

James Sullivan

Production Company:

Jules Levey Productions
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HISTORY

The opening credits for this film read "Eugene O'Neill's prize winning play The Hairy Ape ." Although a Jun 1943 news item in DV states that O'Neill would write a screen treatment of his play, a Jul 1943 NYT news item notes that O'Neill wavered for years about selling the rights to his play. When he finally agreed to sell the rights to producer Jules Levey, he relinquished all control over his orginal work, according to the NYT news item. In O'Neill's play, the character of "Yank," who is called "Hank" in the film, is crushed to death by the gorilla. Hank's rebellion against society is also more sharply delineated in the original.
       This was Levey's first production for United Artists. Levey had previously worked as a distribution executive. Although a Feb 1944 news item in NYHT stated that Howard Estabrook wrote the screenplay in conjunction with Robert D. Andrews, Estabrook is not credited by SAB and the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. Although HR news items add Freddie Frink, Eddie Aquilian, Harry Wilson, Phil Bloom, Leo Sulky, Dutch Schlickenmayer, Israel Garcia and Francis Pierlot to the cast, their participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Lucien Andriot was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox to photograph this picture. Edward Paul and Michel Michelet received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) category. The film was reissued in 1948 by Film Classics, according to a HR news ... More Less

The opening credits for this film read "Eugene O'Neill's prize winning play The Hairy Ape ." Although a Jun 1943 news item in DV states that O'Neill would write a screen treatment of his play, a Jul 1943 NYT news item notes that O'Neill wavered for years about selling the rights to his play. When he finally agreed to sell the rights to producer Jules Levey, he relinquished all control over his orginal work, according to the NYT news item. In O'Neill's play, the character of "Yank," who is called "Hank" in the film, is crushed to death by the gorilla. Hank's rebellion against society is also more sharply delineated in the original.
       This was Levey's first production for United Artists. Levey had previously worked as a distribution executive. Although a Feb 1944 news item in NYHT stated that Howard Estabrook wrote the screenplay in conjunction with Robert D. Andrews, Estabrook is not credited by SAB and the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. Although HR news items add Freddie Frink, Eddie Aquilian, Harry Wilson, Phil Bloom, Leo Sulky, Dutch Schlickenmayer, Israel Garcia and Francis Pierlot to the cast, their participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Lucien Andriot was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox to photograph this picture. Edward Paul and Michel Michelet received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) category. The film was reissued in 1948 by Film Classics, according to a HR news item. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 May 1944.
---
Daily Variety
17 May 44
p. 4.
Daily Variety
28-Jun-43
---
Film Daily
18 May 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 44
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 44
p. 4, 1
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Feb 44
p. 1746.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 May 44
pp. 1897-98.
New York Herald Tribune
28 Feb 1944.
---
New York Times
11 Jul 1943.
---
New York Times
3 Jul 44
p. 8.
Variety
17 May 44
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dressing
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score comp by
SOUND
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill (New York, 9 Mar 1922).
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 June 1944
Production Date:
10 January--late February 1944
retakes 18 April 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Jules Levey Productions
Copyright Date:
16 June 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12801
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in feet):
8,203
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

On a street corner in Lisbon, Portugal, sailor Hank Smith, a hulking brute of a man, boasts to his shipmates that as the ship's stoker, he powers the engines of their freighter. When the belligerent Hank incites a fight at a local bar, Tony Lazar, the ship's second engineer, intercedes on Hank's behalf with the police, and together, they return to their freighter. Upon reaching the pier, Tony discovers that the captain has agreed to transport a group of stranded refugees to New York. When Tony learns that Helen Parker, an old acquaintance from New York, is among the group, he goes to her hotel to escort her to the docks. At the hotel, meanwhile, Helen informs her old school friend, pampered heiress Mildred Douglas, that they have found safe passage home aboard the freighter. In reply, the ungrateful, self-centered Mildred complains about traveling on a "filthy little boat." Once the voyage is underway, MacDougald, the ship's chief officer, tells Tony to order the engine room crew to stoke the engines full steam ahead so that they can catch up to a convoy. Below decks, as the men feed the fires that power the engines, Hank, covered in grime and sweat, is invigorated by the challenge and brags that he is the flesh and blood of the engines. Meanwhile, above decks, Mildred complains that the tiny cabin she is assigned to share with Helen is abhorrent. When Mildred notices Tony's interest in the heroic Helen, who has helped the desperate refugees obtain passage to freedom in America, she begins to flirt with Tony and soon convinces him to offer her his larger and ... +


On a street corner in Lisbon, Portugal, sailor Hank Smith, a hulking brute of a man, boasts to his shipmates that as the ship's stoker, he powers the engines of their freighter. When the belligerent Hank incites a fight at a local bar, Tony Lazar, the ship's second engineer, intercedes on Hank's behalf with the police, and together, they return to their freighter. Upon reaching the pier, Tony discovers that the captain has agreed to transport a group of stranded refugees to New York. When Tony learns that Helen Parker, an old acquaintance from New York, is among the group, he goes to her hotel to escort her to the docks. At the hotel, meanwhile, Helen informs her old school friend, pampered heiress Mildred Douglas, that they have found safe passage home aboard the freighter. In reply, the ungrateful, self-centered Mildred complains about traveling on a "filthy little boat." Once the voyage is underway, MacDougald, the ship's chief officer, tells Tony to order the engine room crew to stoke the engines full steam ahead so that they can catch up to a convoy. Below decks, as the men feed the fires that power the engines, Hank, covered in grime and sweat, is invigorated by the challenge and brags that he is the flesh and blood of the engines. Meanwhile, above decks, Mildred complains that the tiny cabin she is assigned to share with Helen is abhorrent. When Mildred notices Tony's interest in the heroic Helen, who has helped the desperate refugees obtain passage to freedom in America, she begins to flirt with Tony and soon convinces him to offer her his larger and more comfortable quarters. To flaunt her conquest of Tony, Mildred directs Helen to deliver her lavish wardrobe to Tony's cabin. Becoming bored, Mildred decides to see how "the other half lives" and tricks Tony into escorting her to the engine room. When Helen learns that Mildred has lied to Tony that the captain has given his permission for the excursion, she criticizes her for jeopardizing Tony's career. Mildred descends into the engine room, and, repulsed by the sight of the brutish Hank, humiliates him by labeling him a "hairy ape." Seething with anger, the misogynistic Hank mounts the stairs to confront Mildred. When Lazar shoves Hank back down the stairs, MacDougald summons them both to his quarters and charges them with allowing their petty animosities to sabotage their mission. Later, MacDougald tells Helen that Tony has decided to leave the ship in New York and asks her to convince him to change his mind. Upon docking in New York, Mildred retreats to the luxury of her apartment. When Helen visits Mildred to inform her that she is returning to Portugal, Mildred treats her like a servant. While Helen is there, Tony phones to ask Mildred for a date, and after she rejects him and hangs up the phone, Mildred turns to Helen and coldly declares that Tony was only a brief diversion. Outraged, Helen flees the apartment. Soon after, Hank and several of his seamen friends arrive at Mildred's address. When Mildred refuses to see him, Hank creates a disturbance in the lobby, and the doorman summons the police, who then arrest him. The caged Hank vociferously protests his imprisonment, prompting the officers to douse him with a fire hose. Hank's friends plead for his release, but when Hank is finally freed, he emerges from his cell a broken man. Drawn by a poster for "Goliath the Gorilla," Hank wanders to the zoo and pauses in front of the gorilla's cage, transfixed. Resolving to "smash" Mildred, Hank proceeds to her apartment building. Meanwhile, Tony visits Mildred to declare his love, but Mildred replies that he means nothing to her and cruelly dismisses him. Crushed, Tony walks out, leaving the door ajar, and after lumbering up the back stairs of the building, Hank enters the apartment through the open door. When Mildred sees Hank looming over her, she collapses in fear, and he carries her to the couch and begins to caress her hair. After she regains consciousness, Hank picks her up, shakes her and then tosses her back onto the couch. His confidence restored, Hank contemptuously tosses a coin at Mildred and leaves. At the seamen's bar, Hank finds Tony passed out drunk at one of the tables and carries him back to the ship. Hank then charges down the stairs to the engine room and orders the men to start shoveling. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.