Monkeys on strike...
microjoe | 01/28/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"DVD quality - Disney lost stars with me for not putting any effort into the DVD release, I reviewed the film separately below. The lack of widescreen, extras, re-mastering, trailers, or high quality sound is really sad for a company that makes more money than any other at re-releasing its old material. They can make them great when they want to, check the "Vault Disney Collection" at Amazon to see just how good they can be.
THE STORY - An American farmer named Hank (Dean Jones) inherits a big farm when his Uncle passes away, but it is in the Provence region of France. Upon crossing the ocean and inspecting the farm in person, the local easygoing priest warns him that a farm of this size cannot be run without enough employees or family members. In the meantime he sends Maria to help set the farmhouse straight, and of course they begin to fall in love. Hank decides to operate the farm himself, but local labor costs are outrageous so Hank trains a group of monkeys to pick the olives and infuriates the locals who have been scheming to get him. First is the rival for Maria, but worse is a local land buyer who wants the farm to resell for a profit. He sabotages Hank a few times. Even the labor union is after him trying to initiate a strike, and he better think fast if he is to keep ahead of them and win the girl.
BEHIND THE SCENES & TRIVIA: Maurice Chevalier returns to Disney to star and sing as Father Sylvian. He also appeared in "In Search of the Castaways" and sung the title song in "The Aristocats". The studio's famous composers, the Sherman brothers, wrote his song in the movie, "Joie de Vivre". The movie poster promoting the film had a tagline that said, "L'aughter, L'amour, and le monkey business". Released to theatres on February 2, 1967 as a romantic comedy, filmed in 35mm Technicolor the movie was directed by Andrew McLaglen in his first film for the studio. Maurice Tombragel wrote the screenplay based on the book, "The Monkeys" written by G.K. Wilkinson. Films that featured monkeys was a popular fad at the time, so why not a whole group of monkeys since kids went bananas (sorry) whenever they came onscreen. Most of the comedy is reserved for the chimp antics. While the studio used extensive matte effects by Peter Ellenshaw to give the viewers the feeling the village really was in France, the film did use an extensive outdoor set. If it looks familiar, the French village is the same set as the old "El Cuartel de Los Angeles" set from Disney's "Zorro" TV show, which was a permanent feature of the studio's back lot for some time. The set dressers did what they could to change the overall look to French village. The director even arranged for a grove of olive trees to be planted at the studio for filming, and after filming wrapped up the grove was left in place for many years. This was aired on television in 2 parts on the "Wonderful World of Disney" television show, on November 15, and 22, 1970. First released on vhs in 1987.
A Gem of A Movie, Extras or Not
Antonio Capretta | 03/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this movie. The cast is wonderful, especially Yvette Mimieux and those darling chimps. The scenery is very beautiful and evokes a safe and light-hearted mood. Disney has made some very good movies involving animals (others being "The Three Lives of Thomasina" and "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit.") True, the DVD does not have a lot of the extras that people are used to, but if you are a Disney fan who enjoys a good clear picture, don't let that bother you."
Monkeys Meet Mimieux
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 10/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dean Jones was a Disney staple throughout the 1960s and 1970s, appearing in numerous comedies. This movie was one of Jones's first Disney movies. As a comedy this movie is relatively light, with most of the humor coming near the end of the movie.
Hank Dussard (Jones) has inherited a small farm in France with 480 olive trees. In typical American fashion, Dussard believes that he can make a decent living from so many olive trees. In a Disney movie nothing is ever simple, and it turns out that the cost of labor makes olive farming an expensive proposition. Most people who pick olives for a living use their large families to do so. Jones, a bachelor, has no such advantage, though local priest Father Sylvain (Maurice Chevalier, in his last movie appearance) keeps trying to fix him up with local beauty Maria Riserau (Yvette Mimieux, in one of her earliest roles).
Dussard was in the United States Air Force, where he trained monkeys for space flight. Now the monkeys have been retired as the United States has changed to manned space missions. Dussard was able to purchase the monkeys from the Air Force with the intent of using them to pick olives. The scene is set for a series of confrontations between a pair of local socialist leaders and Dussard.
I found the funniest portions of the movie to be in the last half hour. Up to that point there were a few humorous scenes, but the real laughs are near the end. This movie was relatively lightweight even by Disney standards, and I suspect this movie had a low budget. I personally consider this movie family friendly though at least one other reviewer has objected to a scene early in the movie where the butcher, who had romantic aspirations, kissed Maria without her consent. Maria strenuously objected to the kiss and I think most viewers will realize the scene was set up to create a false impression with Dussard and not to be funny.
I have never thought that Dean Jones was a very good actor. He usually plays a straight man for everyone else around him, and so he does here. However, Yvette Mimieux is charming and sweet and Maurice Chevalier is excellent, as always. While this movie is unlikely to make anyone's "best of" list, it has enough sweetness and charm that I like to watch it when I am looking for a fun movie that takes little thought to enjoy.
Viewers will have to consider that this movie was made in 1967 and our culture and our standards have changed since then. Perhaps this movie might provide a good opportunity to discuss the changes that have occurred in our society in the last forty years, assuming that someone would want to get into that level of philosophy while watching a lightweight Disney movie.