Salute to the Monkeys of Film

Yes, we know apes and monkeys are different. But monkey is a cooler word.Everybody loves monkeys, except airplane pilots

We love our monkeys. Maybe because they remind us of ourselves. Or because they make us giggle with their antics. For whatever reason, we have hundreds of monkeys and apes in film.

In honor of the passing of Cheetah, a chimp who (probably) played Tarzan’s sidekick Cheetah in several early Hollywood productions, we wanted to revisit some of our favorite monkey moments from film history.


A Salute to Film Monkeys

Bone-wielding monkey in 2001: A Space Odyssey


This seminal scene from Stanley Kubrick’s legendary film shows an ape teetering on the brink of an idea. The score became an instant “eureka moment” trope, and the whole movie gave atheists and theists a fresh argument starter.

When Kubrick cast mime Daniel Richter for this crucial scene, he probably hoped it would be half as great. But it was 100% as great.

Kudos to you, Thinking Ape-Man.


King Louie in The Jungle Book


This animated orangutan enchanted a generation of 1960s kids. And although his character is morally ambiguous (kidnapping, actively seeking fire because it’s destructive, etc.), his songs are just so darn catchy.

(Fun fact: although later generations loved to get offended at the supposed anti-African-American stereotyping in The Jungle Book movie, King Louie was voiced by a Sicilian-American from Louisiana, Louis Prima.)

Kudos to you, sassy King Louie.


King Kong in King Kong


Perhaps the ultimate monkey movie, King Kong has been remade twice, plus at least two sequel/spinoff things. The original silver screen classic can arguably be credited with creating the entire idea of high-budget, major production cinema. When it premiered in 1933, audiences just couldn’t get enough: it made $89,931 in its first four days.

It also features a dramatic original score by composer Max Steiner, which was groundbreaking at the time. The movie’s instant and enduring popularity ensured scorewriters’ work ever since.

For more monkeys in film, check out http://www.theshiznit.co.uk/feature/top-10-movie-monkeys.php

Jasmine Moore

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