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The Monkey's Paw (Lost 1933 Horror Film)

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Still from the film featuring the main characters

The Monkey's Paw is an American film adaptation of the eponymous horror story, written by the English author W.W. Jacobs. It was released by RKO Radio Pictures in 1933.

It was directed by Wesley Ruggles, best known for his Western films. (Cimarron, Arizona) The film stars Scottish actor Ivan F. Simpson as Mr. White, American actress Louise Carter as Mrs. White, and English cricketer and actor C. Aubrey Smith as Sergeant major Morris.[1]

The story

In the original story, Morris, a friend of the Whites, shows them a monkey's paw which he obtained while serving in the British Army in India. The paw can grant three wishes to the holder - Morris tells them how the man who owned it before, a friend of his, used his third wish to wish for death.

Morris, believing it to be dangerous, intends to burn the paw. However, Mr. White stops the paw from being destroyed, as he thinks it could be useful. He ignores Morris' warning that terrible things will happen if he uses the paw.

The first thing White wishes for is 200 pounds, which he will use to pay off his house. The paw grants his wish - the Whites' son Herbert is killed at work, and the get the money as compensation.

Several days after Herbert's funeral, Mrs. White begs her husband to wish for Herbert to return. He does - and the couple hears a knock on their door. Mrs. White goes to open the door for Herbert, but Mr. White quickly wishes him back into the grave, as he knows his body is hideously disfigured. When Mrs. White opens the door, she finds nobody.

The story's message is that those who play with their fate will face unintended (and terrible) consequences.

The film adaptation

Since the original story is only a few pages long, the film adaptation included more content, such as an origin story for the paw, set in India. It also apparently had a twist ending not present in the story.

In December 2000, a user of IMDB going by the name "Dick-42" posted a review of the film, which he had seen in 1933, when he was 9. He did not completely elaborate on the plot because, as he explains:

"I could not summarize the plot in any great detail; nor would I want to, since it would be a forbidden spoiler in case the film should ever turn up on the cable or elsewhere."[2]

Nothing but stills and posters of the film survive. It is highly sought-after, but there are no indications of what happened to it and where it may be located, if it survives.

References

  1. IMDB page for the film
  2. IMDB review of the film

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