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The Hairy Ape - Essay Example

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It starred William Bendix (Robert “Yank” Smith), Susan Hayward (Mildred Douglas), John Loder (Second Engineer Tony Lazar), Dorothy…
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The Hairy Ape
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ID No. Life of Yank in “The Hairy Ape” Introduction The Hairy Ape, a film produced in July 2, 1944 under the direction of Alfred Santell and produced by Jules Levey belongs to the drama genre. It starred William Bendix (Robert “Yank” Smith), Susan Hayward (Mildred Douglas), John Loder (Second Engineer Tony Lazar), Dorothy Comingore (Helen Parker, Mildred’s rival with Lazar) and Roman Bohnen (Paddy, fireman). Released by in the US by United Artists, it is based on the play written by Eugene ONeill and produced by the Provincetown Players on March 9, 1922 (staged at Provincetown Theatre, New York City).
Life of Yank
Yank grew up in an impoverished lower class family. From his accounts, he had a painful childhood. His parents would make him attend church every Sunday though. His father, working at the shore, was abusive. He grew up seeing his parents fight regularly that when his mother died from alcohol withdrawal relapse, he left home to evade the punishment he suffered. Due to lack of education, he is trapped in a social system amid the rising industrial revolution that he had to toil hard as a fireman/stoker in the transatlantic ocean liner for a measly wage. But he feels himself to be superior to others and confident due to his strength and his view that his effort makes the ship run. He defends the ship as his home.
Yank met Mildred when she visited the ship’s boiler room while docked in Lisbon. The brute and hairy appearance of Yank disgusted Mildred and called him “hairy ape.” Yank is enraged when Mildred was frightened and disgusted of him. He realized that his physique to which he is boastful is loathed by others. Overcome by confusion, he struggles to find answers. He was traumatized and searched for his identity and belongingness.
Yank became aware of the differences in the social class with Mildred’s reaction. His desire to get revenge with Mildred spread to the steel industry (owned by Mildred’s father) and the whole bourgeois class. When he said that others do not belong in society, he is actually expressing his own alienation. He feels strong when he “belongs.” Thus, when Mildred, the other ship workers and people on 5th Ave. rejected him, he felt weakness. On the larger analysis, Yank wants to redefine the social structure and belongingness in society. He “belongs” to the ship being useful to it just as the ship workers who run the ship. Meeting Mildred presented to him a new reality that he cannot seem to fathom and belong. After a series of rejection, he sought out where he belongs.
Conclusion
I prefer to watch or listen to drama or fiction that portrays social realities in life. The story must provide not only entertainment but also motivation and knowledge. Moreover, films with unique twist and climax that would challenge my thinking would add to my criteria for choosing a film. I also want the story that moves faster wherein the plots is faster. The aesthetic and visual presentation also stimulates my imagination and thinking. The film should contain values and lessons for the viewer. Therefore, the story should be able to provide social relevance. It must also evoke emotion, righteousness, sense of family or societal responsibility. However, the film may not be too serious as I also want to see a movie with humor despite that it belongs to the drama genre.
Work Cited
The Hairy Ape. Dir. Alfred Santell. Based on play by Eugene ONeill.
Perf. William Bendix.. United Artists, 1944. Read More
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