Monkey Business (1952): Howard Hawks Directs Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe

In intent, Howard Hawks’ 1952 movie, Monkey Business, aims to recreate the charm and eccentricities of 1930s screwball comdeies, including his own 1938 film Bringing Up Baby.

Cary Grant stars as Prof. Barnaby Fulton, an absent-minded professor, who’s all immersed in a research project.  A chemist, he is seeking the “fountain of youth” formula that will revitalize middle-agers, both mentally and physically.

Grant’s own laboratory experiments yield little fruit, but a lab monkey, let loose from its cage, mixes a few random chemicals and comes up with just the formula Grant is looking for.

When this mixture is inadvertently dumped in the lab’s water supply, things get out of control. The staid, uptight Grant drinks some of the “bitter” water, which makes him behave like a teenager.

A harmless afternoon on the town with luscious secretary, Lois Laurel, played by sexy Marilyn Monroe (all curves and pointed beasts), including a fast ride that almost ends in accident, rouses the ire of Grant’s wife, Edwina, played by Ginger Rogers

However, her behavior is even more infantile when she falls under the spell of the youth formula.

Everyone remembers the best line in Monkey Business: foxy-grandpa research supervisor Oliver Oxly (Charles Coburn) hands the Monroe a letter and says “Get someone to type this.” After Monroe leaves the room, Oxly turns to Barnaby and murmurs “Anyone can type.”

Also amusing is Monkey Business’s pre-credits gag, wherein Cary Grant opens a door and is about to step forward when director Hawks, off-camera, admonishes “Not yet, Cary.”

The loose, carefree script is penned by Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer and I.A.L. Diamond, based on an original story by Harry Segall, better known as Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

Both Grant and Rogers may be a tad too old to play their parts.


Running time: 92 minutes.

Directed by Howard Hawks

Written By: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, I. A. L. Diamond

Released: September 5, 1952

Twentieth Century Fox