Accept no substitutes

Gorillas on my mind

Adam sends a link to this photo couple reminding me that I have kept a list of my favorite films that feature gorilla suits.

With a little help from my friends including Ruth Anderson Barnett and Andy Ihnatko, they are:

Caberet (1972) Joel Gray as the MC of a pre-Hitler Berlin nightclub, singing “If You Could See Her With My Eyes” to his gorilla beloved (in frills and a bonnet, if I remember aright), supplying the musical subtext to the growing romance between Jewish Marisa Berenson and her “aryan” lover. Sounds very incorrect, politically, but if you’ve seen the film you know how the cabaret scenes play ironically against the plot.

Morgan (1966) Swinging London in which an artist obsessed with Karl Marx and Gorillas is having difficulty facing up to his ex-wife’s remarriage. Vanessa Redgrave was nominated for an Oscar from her part as the ex-wife in this screwball comedy.

King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) possibly the corniest gorilla suit of all times. “Kingukongu tai Gojira” for you purists.

Octopussy (1983) Roger Moore as James Bond dons the gorilla suit. Also if you listen carefully a Tarzan yell is in the movie someplace.

Men aka Männer… (1985) A German Comedy written and directed by Doris Dörrie. IMDB says: “A successful, womanizing middle-aged man decides to move out of the house he shares with his wife after she confesses to having an affair. He looks for a new place to live and ends up moving into his wife’s lover’s apartment as a roommate.” One of my favorite gorilla suit scenes.

Robot Monster (1953) Possibly the worst sci-fi movie of all time. The alien, in a gorilla suit, wears a goldfish bowl on his head. Makes Plan 9 look professional. (thanks to Miles Efron for reminding me of this one)

Blonde Venus (1932) Marlene Dietrich and a very young Cary Grant! But it’s Dietrich that ends up wearing the gorilla suit while singing “Hot Voodoo.” I believe this to be one of the first, if not the first, gorilla suit film in which the character is not actually supposed to be a gorilla. Does anyone know an earlier one; this predates King Kong by a year.

Wise Blood (1979) Based on Flannery O’Connor’s novel, which itself is a threading together of several of her short stories. Hazel Mote founds the Church of Christ Without Christ but his buddy Enoch Emory, who has a thing about mummies and monkeys, runs off in a stolen gorilla suit. John Huston directing.

Trading Places (1983), the Dan Ackroyd/Eddie Murphy movie in which a man in a very, very good gorilla suit and a man in a very, very bad gorilla suit are crucial to the resolution of Act 4; features lots of hot, man-in-gorilla-suit-playing-amorous-gorilla on man-in-gorilla-suit-playing-panicky-man-in-gorilla-suit action.

The Pink Panther (1963) which features burglars in gorilla suits — one played by Robert Wagner — zipping around the narrow streets of the Paris suburbs in tiny little convertibles, hopelessly lost, making their getaway. Bonus points for use of the classic Town Drunk Who Calmly Concludes That He’s Just Hallucinating All Of This.

Africa Screams (1949), the best Abbott and Costello movie, judged through the prism of Bad Gorilla Suit scenes.

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952), and if the presence of a junkie-era Bela Lugosi isn’t enough of a tip-off about the level of the production, it also stars Sammy Petrillo, known to history “The Jerry Lewis you hired if you couldn’t afford to hire Jerry Lewis.”


  1. Chad

    I forgot about those cool suites in Trading Places. Also, what about that movie with Client Eastwood, and he had the Gorilla with him everywhere he goes. I am going to have to go back and watch some of these again.


  2. Curt

    My vote goes to pink panther. Talk about classic Blake Edwards. I love the chaos, especially when they are driving around the piazza in the gorilla suit and the old guy is trying to cross the street 🙂

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