"Walter Stevens. You are next to die."

Walter Stevens (Lionel Atwill) is an attorney. He has received a threatening note from a killer called “The Gorilla”. The Gorilla has killed five people so far. The note tells him that he is going to be he’s next victim. This killer likes to send notes to several people at the same time. His premise is to throw the police off guard so they don’t know who the real target is. Of course he could just kill people and not send anyone a note. That would show those pesky police. Apparently this “professional” killer also likes to dress up in a gorilla suit when he kills these people. (Hey, I didn’t write this stuff.)

To add some mystery to this implausible scenario Stevens seems to owe a lot of money to someone who wants to be paid. His niece, Norma Denby (Anita Louise) is co-executor of his brother’s estate. The terms of his will stated that they were each to get half the estate when Norma became of age. In the event that one of them died, the estate all went to the remaining survivor.

Instead of calling the police Stevens calls the Acme detective agency. The Acme detective agency is run by… oh boy, The Ritz Brothers. If you are not familiar with The Ritz Brothers they are a vaudeville-type comedy team of brothers that did a lot of stage work. They are compared most often to The Marx Brothers or The Three Stooges.

The Acme Detective Agency is run by three defectives, I mean detectives. They are Garrity (Jimmy Ritz), Harrigan (Harry Ritz), and Mulligan (Al Ritz). They come stumbling in and after that nothing makes sense. The plot doesn’t even matter any more. Everything from then on is slapstick and synchronized jokes. There’s a fake gorilla, there’s a real gorilla.

“The Gorilla” was released in 1939 and was directed by Allan Dwan. Despite being labeled as a comedy/horror and having both Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill in it, “The Gorilla” is not a horror movie. It’s not great, it’s not horrible, its just ridiculous. Unless you are a Ritz Brothers fan, the only reason to see this movie is Bela Lugosi or perhaps Lionel Atwill. Both of their performances are done well. Lugosi especially. He should have done more comedy. He has a way of delivering a line that could both chill you and make you laugh at the same time.

As for the movie, if you like slapstick or old comedy routines it’s fine. It could even be considered an “Old Dark House” mystery if you squint.