Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Harmon Jones
So, to my complete surprise, I liked this movie semi-unironically.
I found it weird that this movie starred fairly big names for the time. Not huge stars, but knowable names and more than one of them. It has Raymond Burr, Lee J. Cobb, a young Lee Marvin, Cameron Mitchell (before he spiraled into camp), and Anne Bancroft here to remind you she is, indeed, a very good idea. I was not familiar with Charlotte Austin, who plays the virginal character, but who could scream like crazy and had great hair (and was in another gorilla movie in 1958 called The Bride and the Beast, penned by Ed Wood Jr.).
At around the 70% mark of the movie, I think it was Jenifer who pointed out "this is gorilla noir", and she was not wrong. This is absolutely murder mystery noir, set against the backdrop of a carnival, with a gorilla as a character, and plenty of intrigue to go around. The movie is knowing enough that it constantly plays with expectations, and I had no idea how this thing would wrap up until the end.
It's also, visually, very interesting. Shot at Nu Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach. I thought it was the same location as Woman on the Run/ Gun Crazy and others, and was very wrong. My takeaway is that California had some great amusement options in the 20th century. (The Burglar was filmed in New Jersey, so I was way off there.) But as something shot originally for 3D presentation, and in bright technicolor, it's a fascinating bit of visual cotton candy, including a dynamic scene with a mirror maze (that I'm not clear on how it was shot without showing the crew standing behind the camera, tbh).
It's not challenging the AFI Top 100 as an underserved, underseen classic, but it's *interesting*. Including the bizarre decisions that led to the finale.