Based on Le Cinquieme Singe by Jacques Zibi, this film has Ben Kingsley playing Cunda, a man who catches snakes for scientists to earn money to catch the eye of a widow. He ends up being bitten by serpents, which leads to a dream about four chimpanzees and then they show up in his waking life, leading him on a series of misadventures. While he just wants to make money off the monkeys, he finds himself growing to love them.
The Fifth Monkey was directed and written by Éric Rochat, who yes, made multiple versions of The Story of O and produced Jodorowsky’s Tusk, but he’s the man who made Too Much, the story of a robot with a heart for Cannon.
According to The Unknown Movies — and a reader of that site named Maurice — “…after 20% of the movie was completed, Golan wanted to replace the director of photography and partly also Rochat, which really killed the movie. The Brazilian crew quit, Kingsley insisted that Rochat stayed, and a new contract was written which made Kingsley, Rochat and the new director of photography, all directors of the movie.” This same writer also claims that Bubbles the chimp was in this.
Rochat himself emailed that site too, saying: “For your information, I was actually the producer of the film as well by contract, then the titles were made in LA by Menahem Golan. At the screening of the first copy, to my great surprise, Menahem had given himself the credit of producer. When I complained about it, he came up with the following line: “You have enough credit as it is, writer, director! You’re not going to fight me over this, are you?” I was so exhausted by the whole fight during the shooting that I let it go. Now one word in favor of Menahem, he loves movies and gave a lot of people the opportunity to have a go at it.”
I love that 21st Century keeps being an untapped mine filled with magical gold.