EDitorial ± 31-Oct-2011

Like A Monkey With A Miniature Cymbal

Recently I've taken on some new responsibilities at work. My knowledge of this particular area is not good. So when I'm asked a question, I forward that same query to a colleague who actually knows stuff, then cut and paste his response back to the original person. Simple. And at the same time deeply unsatisfying. Makes me feel like an untrained monkey. I may as well have a small pair of cymbals. Possibly a fez too. With a stripy waistcoat.

Which got me thinking about the CBM — the cymbal-banging monkey. Naturally, our friend Wikipedia has a highly informative page on the subject. That page (and others on the Net) lists various films and telly programs which feature a monkey who bangs a pair of cymbals. Seeing the list is OK; seeing some screen grabs is better. Here goes.

— The Simpsons Movie —

For me, this is the CBM which most readily springs to mind. Literally.

From time-to-time in The Simpsons we're given an insight into Homer's mind. Given a star cameo in The Simpsons Movie is this particular fella, very much in the Groening house style with his googly eyes.

Naturally he appears when Marge is speaking but quickly tires of banging his cymbals and urges Homer to listen for once.

Read the IMDb entry for The Simpsons Movie.

— Toy Story 3 —

In Toy Story 3, the security cameras at the notorious Sunnyside Daycare centre — subject of a recent Panorama investigation — are monitored by an oddly still CBM.

Never mind what a little kid might make of this one, I find him absolutely terrifying.

Read the IMDb entry for Toy Story 3.

— Close Encounters —

Steven Spielberg, the bearded one, at his most potent with the weirdly named Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. What a mouthful.

As strange lights appear outside that house in the middle of nowhere, the little kid's toys come to life. Including a threatening CBM.

Curiously, the kid doesn't run shrieking to his mummy but goes downstairs to investigate further, the way they do in films.

Read the IMDb entry for Close Encounters.

— The Grinch —

Another rotten Dr Seuss adaptation, The Grinch has an enormous CBM in his lair.

Note the classic yellow waistcoat and striped red trousers as per Toy Story 3.

I have nothing else to add.

Read the IMDb entry for The Grinch.

— Aladdin —

Now this is more like it.

So, I said to the kids, do we have Aladdin in the house? Nope, they said. Not trusting them at all, I checked the list of recorded films. Sure enough, it looked like they were right ... until I discovered that it was hiding away in the listings as Disney's Aladdin. That's good, Dad, can we watch it? Yep, of course, as long as you look out for the bit with the cymbal-banging monkey.

Blink-and-you'll-miss-it. Right near the end of the film, cute little Abu is very briefly transformed into a CBM by Jaffar. No cake for him.

Read the IMDb entry for Aladdin.

— Doctor Who, The Empty Child —

Mummy. Mummy. Are you my Mummy?

This one I read about but found hard to believe. Apparently, said Wikipedia, there's a CBM in a Dr Who episode called The Empty Child, a real behind-the-sofa number from one Steven Moffat.

Oh yes, said one of the Who experts in the house, it's in that bit where the girl — Nancy — is feeding the kids in that deserted house. We dug out the DVD and bish-bosh, she was right. Of course.

It starts to bang its cymbals in a manner similar to Close Encounters before the Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, picks it up to examine it.

Read the IMDb entry for The Empty Child.

— Phantom Of The Opera —

So, Phantom Of The Opera. Lon Chaney, Michael Crawford, Andrew Lloyd Webber, all that malarkey.

This creepy-looking CBM pops up right at the start of the filmed musical version on top of a music box. If you're interested, it's possible to buy replica versions online. Which is nice.

Read the IMDb entry for Phantom Of The Opera.

— A Matter Of Loaf And Death —

Another quality contender is from the mighty Wallace And Gromit, one that I'd completely forgotten. We're talking A Matter Of Loaf And Death.

Having broken into the house of Piella Bakewell, the ever resourceful Gromit is forced to spend the right hiding on the light fitting. When he finally falls on to the bed below, he sees a quivering shape under a blanket. Thinking it must be Piella's dog, Fluffles, he pulls off the cover only to reveal this classically attired CBM, complete with fez.

Read the IMDb entry for A Matter Of Loaf And Death.

— Rebel Without A Cause —

Here's an oddball one to close. To quote an entirely separate website called TV Tropes:

James Dean drunkenly plays with such a toy in the opening credits of Rebel Without a Cause
Really? Truly?

As he's being manhandled into the local police station, one of the icons of the age is gripping tightly onto a CBM. Believe it.

Read the IMDb entry for Rebel Without A Cause.

That's more than enough cymbal-banging monkeys for one week.