Sunday, March 13, 2016

Silent Sundays: The Monkey Talks (1927)

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“And now ladies and gentlemen the marvel of the age. The chimpanzee with a human brain who speaks like a man!

            The Monkey Talks begins with a man named Armand Durant. He happens to run into an old friend of his named Faho. Faho had saved Armand in the battle of Verdun and manages to find Armand a job with the circus he works for. The circus does not make a lot of money. They do not have anything to attract audiences. While taking a break from traveling Faho runs around and climbs up a tree. Watching Faho do this gives Armand an idea for the circus. His idea is to make Faho look like a monkey and have him do things as a trained chimpanzee would do but he would be able to speak like a human. Faho and the circus manager agree to this idea.
            Soon their “talking monkey” is a huge hit in Paris. Armand is the handler to Faho’s monkey Jocko. A pretty girl named Olivetta is now working for them in their theater act. Both Faho and Armand like Olivetta. Armand lets Faho crush on Olivetta since he saved his life at Verdun. He promises to not say a word to Olivetta as long as she cannot see Faho as a man.
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            Things take a turn when another act becomes jealous of Armand and Faho’s act of the Monkey Talks. Two men kidnap Faho for their act and replace Faho with an actual chimpanzee (well, it is still a man in a chimpanzee costume not an actual chimpanzee that it needed to be for the part). Armand and the manager cannot report Jocko missing since he is not a real chimpanzee. The fake chimpanzee is taken to the theater and it attacks Olivetta.
            Faho is able to escape his captors and back to the theater. While trying to get into the theater, still dressed as a chimpanzee, he is shot by the police. He does manage to fight off the real chimpanzee away from Olivetta. Armand does not want to go out for the show since Faho is mortally wounded but Faho insists that the show does go on. The two old friend perform their last show and Faho dies as soon as the curtain goes down.

            I did not know what to expect with The Monkey Talks. I thought it was going to be a comedy and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see it was a drama. The story was interesting and different. Raoul Walsh directed The Monkey Talks. Walsh is one of my favorite directors. Some of his shots were so good. He filmed a part of Faho and Armand’s act from the side of the backstage area. I loved it I loved the way it looked and how it was filmed. If you like silent films and like Raoul Walsh as a director The Monkey Talks is definitely worth seeing. 
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