There is a legend that if the barbary apes ever leave the Rock of Gibraltar, the fortress will be lost, and the Rock will leave the British Empire. This is the basis for this charming war-time comedy.
When ‘Old Charlie’ – the last male of the ape population – dies, the morale amongst the female apes plummets, and they succumb to depression and begin wasting away.
Miklos Tabori (Lee Montague) – a double agent who owns a Gibraltar nightclub – draws the attention of the Germans to the thinning ape population on the Rock.
Lt. ‘Piggy’ Wigg (Terry-Thomas) – the bumbling officer in charge of the apes – dresses some short soldiers in ape suits, trains them in ape-like behaviour to the timing of a nursery rhyme and has them cavort over the rock to fool the spies watching through telescopes.
Summoned by Major Hobson (George Sanders) of British Intelligence to London to see Winston Churchill, Piggy is instructed to steal a new male ape from a circus in Zurich (which is behind enemy lines) to cheer the apes up again before the Germans can use the story for propaganda purposes.
Piggy and his batman (Lionel Jeffries) manage to escape, dressed as a horse, amidst a stampede of circus horses.
A stand-out scene involves Piggy weaving his way home on a motorcycle after being plied with alcohol by Miklos Tabori.
He ends up wrecking the bike and shooting it to put it out of its misery. The bike’s last convulsive gasp is positively heart-rending.
Lt. ‘Piggy’ Wigg
Jocelyn Lane (as Jackie Lane)
Howard H. Lang
Nyree Dawn Porter
Lt. Gen. Hepworth
Prime Minister’s Secretary