on 9 February 2010
Henry Dussard (Dean Jones), a young American, inherits a picturesque but badly neglected olive farm in southern France and is determined to make it operational again despite cautionary advice from the local priest (Maurice Chevalier) and a pretty villager (Yvette Mimieux). Desperate for laborers, the inventive Dussard turns to the zaniest crew of olive pickers ever recruited ... four mischievous monkeys! As former members of an Air Force space team, these intelligent chimps quickly pick up on their new responsibilities ... but prove to have a turbulent effect on the local townspeople. Endless hilarity results in this slapstick family comedy!
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.
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.