Nightclub performers Duke Mitchell (Duke Mitchell) and Sammy Petrillo (Sammy Petrillo) are on their way to perform for the troops in Guam. They end up stranded on a tropical island called "Kola Kola". They are welcomed by the natives. The chief’s daughter Nona (Charlita) and Duke take a liking to each other. Nona was educated off the island and is interested in returning to civilization with Duke.
Also on the island is a huge medieval castle that is the home of a mad scientist named Dr. Zabor (Bela Lugosi). Zabor does experiments playing with evolution. Nona thinks that perhaps Dr. Zabor can help get Duke and Sammy off the island. Zabor is in love with Nona. When he sees the attraction between Nona and Duke he gets jealous. His evil plan is to transform Duke into a gorilla so he can keep him away from Nona.
“Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla” was released in 1952 and was directed by William Beaudine. It is suppose to be a horror/comedy, but don’t let them fool you. It is neither. There are certain movies that just grate on me. For example any movie with the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis combo in it.
Although this film does not have either of those actors it does have the Duke Mitchell/Sammy Petrillo combo. Mitchell and Petrillo are a comedy team that is basically billed as Martin and Lewis doppelgangers. Right down to the suave singing style of Mitchell and the buck-toothed slapstick comedy of Petrillo. Lewis later sued Petrillo for copying his act so closely.
I realize that the movie is a parody of several movie genres: the mad scientist horror movie, the exotic romance, and comedies. Plus I am aware of the talents of director Beaudine having seen many of his three hundred plus movies.
There are other really good points to the movie. Bela Lugosi primarily. Unfortunately his star was fading at the time and cheese ball movies were the only movies he could get. He was a consummate actor and did the best he could with what he was given. Even at his worst he was still better than everyone else in the film.
The movie itself is sort of OK. The jokes are lame and the plot is thin. I expected that. The only real horrible thing about the film was the two stars Mitchell and Petrillo. Unfortunately they were all over it.
The original title was intended to be "White Woman of the Lost Jungle". The producer, Herman Cohen, changed it to exploit Bela Lugosi's involvement. It is an example of both gorillasploitation and lugosisploitation.
The movie has a following and that’s OK. Some people like Martin and Lewis and found the over the top, over acting either charming or funny or whatever. I just found Petrillo grating and irritating. Petrillo and Arthur Askey of “The Ghost Train” 1941 are two of the most annoying comedians I’ve ever seen.
Ramona the chimp was played by Cheetah, from the Tarzan movies. The gorilla was played by Ray Corrigan and Steve Calvert.