I did not expect this film to be good. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The Ape is a short little thriller [57:28 long] starring Boris Karloff as Dr. Bernard Adrian. In this movie the good doctor is seeking to cure a young woman's polio which is a noble goal. The problem, however, is that he needs spinal fluid from another human to complete the formula. How he procures this spinal fluid is what the movie is all about. Karloff is quite good in this role and takes center stage in this film. The rest of the cast is fine as well.
After watching The Ape I did a little research and discovered that the screenplay was adapted from a play by none other than Curt Siodmak. If that name is not familiar to you then, perhaps, some of his other screenplays will ring a bell: The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Wolfman (1941), Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943) and House of Frankenstein (1944). I know good writing when I smell it!
While The Ape only offers one plot twist toward the end of the film, I found it engaging from start to finish. It's just the right length. The story would have suffered if Siodmak tried to stretch The Ape into a 90 minute film. Nicely done.
It's fair to say that The Ape is not earth-shattering or life-changing. But it is a nice little gem from the 1940's that is often overlooked. If you're a fan of Boris Karloff, then I consider The Ape a must see.
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.