Review: Duck Soup (1933)

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Up until this point in time, The Marx Brother’s all-out assault on humanity had still mostly been geared at the likes of stuffy socialites, gangsters, college campuses, authority figures, etc. Albeit entertaining but fairly straightforward worlds where there was not that much to be navigated beyond what we already knew to be true. All that was necessary was to sit back and enjoy the boys at work and cue the rolling in the aisles.

Their audiences by now had been conditioned with a certain type of environment. The framework is still somehow familiar in Duck Soup as well — at least on first glance. There we have Margaret Dumont at the center of it all surrounded by a bunch of stuffy bespectacled chaps with beards. She is calling for the resignation of one of the leaders of the nation of Freedonia.

Her choice to fill the position is none other than that progressive visionary Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho). Why she thinks he is anywhere close to being qualified is slightly beside the point. We just want a chance to see Groucho and he receives the usual majestic fanfare rushing down the fireman’s pull to see what all the hubbub is about.

Meanwhile, Louis Calhern of the adjoining nation of Sylvania is simultaneously conspiring with a cunning mistress to ignite a revolution and take over the country from within while also attempting to woo the prominent Mrs. Teasdale.

Two spies are tracking Firefly right as they speak. In fact, they’re a lot closer than they might think. They’re his brothers. Scratch that. They’re Pinky and Chicolini sent to scrape together some dirt to discredit him with the people. Little does their ringleader know that Groucho, errr, Firefly has been doing a good enough job being disreputable all by himself.

Only when Margaret Dumont has returned back in the fold do you realize how much she improves Groucho’s jokes. Years later the man said himself that the key to the magic was the fact that she never understood any of his barbs — much less why they were funny. However, in this particular outing, Louis Calhern and the demonstrative lemonade vendor Edgar Kennedy do much the same for the other two conniving troublemakers, Chico and Harpo. They’ve never truly had such a good foil as Groucho had in Dumont.

The picture segues into a scene where Groucho sticks his head out the window overlooking a peanut vendor and pretty soon Chico is being offered a spot in Groucho’s cabinet. Sounds about right. Likewise, Harpo gets in on the action and the most surprising discovery is that his body is covered with art in the film’s next truly surreal interlude.

Now with such crucial positions so close to Groucho, who coincidentally would have probably offered positions to a chimpanzee if given the chance, the two infiltrators are called upon to steal Freedonia’s war plans. Again, who cares?

Crucially, their little escapade sets up The Marx Brothers’ next iconic gag with three Groucho’s dressed in nightcaps and pajamas. The mirror scene is the most remembered bit and it’s fun but it’s only a segment of a whole drawn-out sequence that plays on the brothers’ mistaken identities. This in itself could be another commentary if you wanted to make it into one.

Personally, it struck me for the first time that though physically the sequence revolves around Groucho, much of it takes place in Harpo’s world without any dialogue. Furthermore, there are times when we don’t actually know who is Groucho or who is not until we are given cues whether Chico’s trademark accent or Harpo’s hat.

First, the mirror is shattered and then reality when one Groucho steps out and is replaced by another only to be joined by a third. Regardless of what you want to say about this realm of the absurd, it’s a great gag.

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Then there’s the final sequence which is the actual escalation of the war between the two belligerent countries but it’s done with the typical tongue-and-cheek manner you might expect from the brothers where war is equated to a minstrel show and Groucho breaks out into a slightly doctored spiritual, “All God’s Children Got Guns.” From thence forward let the surrealist nonsensical nature of war take over.

For me, Groucho sums it up in sending Chicolini off to battle, “While you’re out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we’ll be in here thinking what a sucker you are.” This was no grand anti-war statement. If anything it was a cynical statement. Of course, that doesn’t take into account Groucho’s constantly changing military garb from Revolutionary War attire, Civil War uniforms, a coonskin cap, etc. It was comedy pure and simple.  

In my mind, it’s no small coincidence that one of the Brothers most reputed films was also directed by Leo McCarey who in some respects still remains criminally underrated. Certainly, he was more a Cary Grant director than a Marx Brothers one but there’s a sense that he could focus their comedy into something utterly electric.

The irony of it all is that The Marx Brothers really hadn’t changed all that much but the way people perceived them and by extension, how they perceived their comedy, had provided this new context that surrounds Duck Soup. So people could start placing all types of assumptions and beliefs onto the film in ways that were most alarming and subversive.

I think the brothers themselves may have even admitted that they unwittingly rather than consciously made this departure. But the implications were great and cultivated the soil for a film that’s legacy would only grow year after year. And it’s true that there really is no superfluous scene. There’s no real chaff as it were even if it is all utterly marvelous absurdity.

However, it made just enough sense for Mussolini to ban the film on grounds of pointed satire. One last time let’s turn to Groucho who would have been overjoyed by such a response but pointed out, “We were four Jews just trying to get a laugh.” That was all. But it was so much. Duck Soup is a pinnacle of comic nonsense.

4.5/5 Stars

Review: Horse Feathers (1932)

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At Paramount Pictures The Marx Brothers released a row of comedies with seemingly arbitrary names evoking fauna like Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and of course Duck Soup.  The phrase  “Horse Feathers” is essentially a variation on “Nonsense” though it sounds rather archaic by today’s standards. That hardly detracts from any of its charms as a film.

There must be a location — a place for the brothers to be unleashed upon the world where they can belittle and bash heads all at the same time. What better place than a university campus that pantheon of learning dating all the way back to the Greeks? It commences with a perfect opening ceremony that’s quintessential Groucho.

He accepts his new post by badmouthing his eminent predecessor, pulling on the facial hair of all his eminent faculty, besmirching the reputation of his eminent institution and singing a typically cheeky diddy, “I’m Against It.”

His son played by none other than his younger brother Zeppo has been spending his idle hours outside of the classroom and off the football field in the company of a College Widow (Thelma Todd). Much like “Horse Feathers,” this might come as another antiquated term or at the very least euphemistic. It usually denotes a woman who lived near college campuses to romance male students. She was commonly known to be easy pickings. But that’s enough context. Watch the film and you’ll probably have all the context you need because Groucho wants to get in on the action too — not to mention the other brothers.

However, there’s more important business at hand. Namely the fact that Huxley hasn’t had a good football team since 1888. Even in 1932 that was still a very long time ago. As Groucho notes they’re neglecting football for education. At the behest of his son, he personally heads down to the Speakeasy to dig up some talent. It isn’t the least bit ethical so obviously, the school’s new head promptly heads straight there.

Before he can enter, however, he needs to provide the password and you guessed it the gatekeeper is the bootlegger Baravelli (Chico). Getting inside is more convoluted than you ever imagined. Of course, the actual joint is then Harpo’s personal playground and overflowing slot machine. His hat runneth over so to speak. The steady stream of gags keeps on flowing.

I was genuinely cracking up whilst Harpo stokes the fire with books in Wagstaff’s office Groucho remarks that Baravelli has the brain of a four-year-old boy, and “I bet he was glad to get rid of it.” Classic Marx Brothers.

Follow that up with an invasion of a lecture hall with Chico and Harpo taking up seats in the front row after their typical fisticuffs while Groucho stands by making snide remarks over the professor’s shoulder. Another perfect scenario capped off by Groucho taking over and getting caught in a spitball war with his two most unruly students.

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Next, it becomes grand central station in the promiscuous college widow’s pad with slabs of ice getting repeatedly chucked out the window and Groucho repeatedly breaking up the action and the fourth wall by talking to the audience. He even invites them to go out to the lobby during  Chico’s piano playing. To be honest, I was never that big of a fan. Each of the brothers pays the dame a visit as does her other beau backing Darwin while Groucho constantly makes a chore of carrying out his umbrella and rubbers before exiting the busy room.

We have the resulting romantic date on the lake with the dame conspiring to steal Huxley’s signals. Groucho’s serenade of “I Love You” is the kicker. In fact, it’s very true that everyone says I love you — including each of the brothers — each in a very different way. Meanwhile, Todd assaults Groucho with baby talk and he all but tosses her out of their dingy (in case you didn’t realize, they had Life Savers candy back in 1932).

But the finale comes on the football field and there’s no doubt that Chico and Harpo liven things up. The most storied gags are courtesy of Harpo including a football yo-yo and laying down a minefield of banana peels, and of course chariots. They have no respect for the game. What better way to sum it up than marriage Marx Brothers style. They have no respect for that institution either.

Whether or not its second tier to the likes of Duck Soup (1933) or Night at the Opera (1935) is beside the point aside from being purely dismissive. Watching the boys at work here is arguably as wild and deliriously funny as anything they ever put to film. Here is a comedy that wonderfully condenses all that these brothers stood for as far as comic hooliganism was concerned in a gag reel that never has time to run out of steam. A wonderful summation of what college might be like if the Brothers had ever had the good fortune of making it there. Regardless, it’s a joy to the very last hike and the very last frame of chaos.

4/5 Stars

Review: Monkey Business (1931)

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“Love flies out the door when money flies innuendo.” – Groucho Marx

To call on an unforgivable quip worthy of The Marx Brothers, this film is a barrel of laughs. Hardy Har Har. I promise. Never again. I’ll leave it to the professionals. I never was much for comedy anyway…

It’s true these men had approximately 20 years of vaudeville and 5 years on Broadway under their belts even before moving to film. They were a well-oiled, grease-painted machine by now.

Because while some of their puns might be horrendously awful, they come in such a constant barrage of quips and commotion, it’s difficult not to tip your hat in deference. The Marx Brothers are a force to be reckoned with on a great many fronts.

In this particular instance, they are four stowaways who are singing “Sweet Adeline” in the ship’s hull on a transatlantic voyage. It’s the stuff of urban legend whether or not Harpo can actually be heard singing in the film (Later on he gets a little help from Maurice Chevalier on a phonograph).

They spend much of the film’s opening half fleeing the ship’s Captain and all his staff who are looking to put the brigands in irons. But they’re a slippery bunch and they find plenty of time to get into all sorts of mischief as they do best. After all, that’s what they’re there for.

The narrative is blessed by a greater fluidity than its predecessors meaning the Brothers can scramble around and they have an ever-changing array of sets to do their worst. In the same sense, it suggests that they have graduated from mere stage to screen adaptations and are finally getting their feet wet in what the cinema truly has to offer.

It also boasts the swellest live-action Punch and Judy show you’ve ever seen courtesy of Harpo’s pantomime as he outsmarts his pursuers while trading the type of blows you’d expect with such a violent form of entertainment. It’s for the kids.

Groucho and Chico overrun the Captain’s quarters with colossal impudence calling for lunch to be served and finding time to play their typical back and forth over a globe and the history of Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492. They were never ones to connect linguistically, though they do agree on one thing amid the stultifying banter. They’d rather be talking about nurses.

Then Chico and Harpo showcase their ineptitude as barbers when cutting a man’s mustache. Their game of too long-too short soon has him looking like Charlie Chaplin and then the cleanest baby face on deck. Likewise, they disrupt perfectly civil chess matches and bowl over innocent bystanders. Harpo even befriends a frog.

Meanwhile, Zeppo the most straight-laced of them all charms a beautiful young woman with greater implications. She’s a perfectly innocent girl but her father is a fairly notorious gangster, Big Joe Helton.

Groucho quite by accident ends up in another gangster’s closet and works on wooing his mistress (Thelma Todd) with his suave dancing and witty one-liners. Groucho’s dancing and guitar playing are on point with that iconic half crouch of his, coattails flying and strings twanging with raucous abandon. Harpo and Chico might be considered the more memorable indulgers in the arts but I almost prefer Groucho. Maybe its a matter of relating to him more.

You expect him to get a belly full of lead but this is the Marx Brother’s Universe so he and Zeppo get hired on as heavies. That brings us to the film’s main conflict if there is any. The Brothers unwittingly find themselves on opposite sides of a gang feud. They never were much for gun-toting, preferring a more primeval form of violence known as slapstick.

A lavish gala is held by Helton only to have his daughter kidnapped by his mortal enemy. The terrace is almost more interesting as Groucho starts meowing like a suggestive kitty picking up the prancing two step where he left off with the same gangster’s moll.

But let us not forget someone was kidnapped. A barn proves to be a fitting setting for the final showdown Marx Brothers-style as Groucho provides color commentary and Chico and Harpo conk their adversaries over the head like they do best. Zeppo’s the only who’s up to any serious fighting.

Monkey Business is probably the first Marx Brother picture to realize their talents with cinematic scope. The wealth is spread wonderfully with each brother alotted the time to shine — showcasing their various shticks — but the medium also provides greater avenues for the sake of a punchline. They would only push the envelope further with Horse Feathers (1932) and Duck Soup (1933).

4/5 Stars

Cocoanuts (1929)

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“Did anyone ever tell you that you look like the Prince of Wales?” ~ Kay Francis, Chico, and Groucho.

The Marx Brothers were modern comedians. Out of Groucho Marx alone, there are numerous comics spawned and basking in his incomparable shadow. When certain jokes come out you can all but tip your hat to him. But also Chico and Harpo had their own personas and they worked with each other to simultaneously set up different bits and turn those bits into pandemonium that have overtaken the world with laughter over and over again.

And that’s not over one film or with one studio but over a whole host of projects. For all I know, Harpo Marx went through life mute (I Love Lucy cameos don’t tell me any different) and Chico really did use that accent of his. Even Groucho who was arguably the most visible thanks to You Bet Your Life, What’s My Line, and memorable Dick Cavett interviews, though he lost the greasepaint mustache and eyebrows, still maintained much the same witty image his entire life.

Playing purely the numbers game most comedy teams are duos. Think of most of the great ones. But the Marx Brothers had three and even four when Zeppo was around. They were all family. So when this well-oiled mechanism of chaos is released it really does a number on people. They were known for overwhelming producers in real life with their antics and they do precisely the same thing to each individual audience member who watches them onscreen — at least the ones who don’t mind being railroaded a little. That is their lasting impact.

The fact Cocoanuts was their first film and from the 1920s makes more an impression on my mind. Because talking pictures hadn’t been around for all that long. Sure, some of their gags could have been retroactively transferred to the silent cinema but in many ways, the talkies suited them just fine. After all, they were a vaudeville act and The Cocoanuts was a success on the stage before it was a film. Even during filming, they were already at work on their latest production Animal Crackers (which would again become a film the following year).

Where does that leave us? Looking at The Cocoanuts today, it definitely is stagey because well, it came from a stage play. Furthermore, it’s a rather odd combination having Irving Berlin and The Marx Brothers names attached to the film. Given the main attraction, there’s probably too much singing anyways although the overhead shots soon accredited to Busby Berkeley are quite prominent here.

If we turn our attention to the opening moment, Groucho is on the staircase of the Hotel de Cocoanut giving his restless bellboys some wise words full of crap about money. Meanwhile, a seductive woman (Kay Francis) and her suitor look to steal the priceless necklace of one of the few vacationers (Margaret Dumont) and pin the crime on someone else for their own nefarious purposes. This might not be a criticism you hear often but there’s too much plot and not enough Marx Brothers.

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Let’s cut right to the best gags. There’s the adjoining room & slamming door gag which provides one of the most pointed moments where the boys are all working seamlessly together to promote chaos on celluloid.

Groucho and Chico have one of their bits over a map and linguistic disconnect that Groucho riddles with his puns and Chico then decimates with his miscomprehension of English vernacular (Most famously Viaduct becomes Why a duck?). Watch it if you don’t understand what that means. In Marx Brothers terms it’s probably poetry in motion.

There’s an auction, termed a big swindle by Groucho but even with Chico’s involvement in the chicanery, for some unknowable reason, they don’t seem to be making any money. Finally, Groucho and Harpo play Tic Tac Toe on a man’s chest and act boorish at a dinner party before running off for the plot’s real finale. Let’s face it. The picture ended right when they left the stage.

The improv and dynamic nature of the Brothers given their vaudeville roots makes me realize just how much their shows would have been blessed by repeated performances and the heat of the moment. Though we can’t have that luxury at least we have this film to remember those hoodlums who elevated the art form of anarchy and wisecracking to new heights.

3.5/5 Stars

Sons of the Desert (1933)

sons of the desert 1Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into. 

When I was a kid Laurel & Hardy were a mainstay of the local lending libraries and I viewed many of their pictures from Bonnie Scotland to Flying Deuces to Saps at Sea.  I’m not sure if I can make that point enough. I watched a lot of Laurel & Hardy and a lot of Road Movies with Hope and Crosby. Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed those comedies which got played over and over in my household. But the point is you only see a limited number. That being said, I never got the opportunity to see of Sons of the Desert until a few years back and it’s yet another quality comedy in the Laurel & Hardy hall of fame.

The film opens with a powwow of the Sons of the Desert society with its many members waiting with baited breath for the proceedings before they are rudely interrupted by two malcontents. None other than our lovable heroes who sheepishly wade through the crowds. They’ve made their presence known and never let up from thenceforward.

But more importantly than their entrance is the solemn oath they take along with the legions of others, resolving to show up at the annual convention in Chicago no matter the obstacles in the way. For Stan and Ollie that’s means getting their wives to let them attend or better yet pulling the wool over their eyes because that’s a lot more entertaining from a comedic perspective.

Chance events like meeting relatives and sinking ocean liners are really inconsequential insertions into the already nonsensical storyline. After all, if something’s already absurd what’s the difference if it gets even crazier? The bottom line is that Sons of the Desert keeps Stan and Ollie at its center and they don’t disappoint getting into mess after mess as they always do.

In this particular iteration, a bit of the battle of the sexes is going on although there’s no way either of these men can dominate their wives and that’s the funny part. Ollie’s the instigator, blustering his way into the scenario with his typical overconfident ways, dragging Stan along with him and getting them both into a heap of trouble. They’re up on the roof in the rain without a paddle or any prayer of keeping dry. And in precisely these types of moments, you see the irony of Ollie’s catchphrase. Stan might unwittingly add to the chaos but Ollie is the instigator of every mess.

They try and exert their dominance and when that doesn’t work they try deception, putting on a false front for their spouses. And when that doesn’t work they run and hide, snivel and beg for forgiveness. Either that or get all the contents of the kitchen cabinets hurled their way. In the end, Stan has a fairly amiable homecoming but Ollie can’t say quite the same thing.

Some memorable moments involve Stan snacking on wax fruit and trying to string along some flimsy lies about how they “ship hiked” across the ocean, highlighting his perpetual struggle with the English language. Meanwhile, Ollie is trying his darndest to fake an illness with Stan’s help and the boys end up hiding out in the attic away from their wives before they’re forced to sneak down the drainpipe in the pouring rain. They can be conniving buffoons but there’s also very rarely a moment when we’re not on their sides.

As if having each other was not enough already, they always have the backing of the audience. They give us that same gift of Chaplin or Keaton or Lloyd or The Marx Brothers or Tati or any of the other great comics. They give us laughter in droves. The mode isn’t all that important. It’s simply the fact that they too have a timeless ability for evoking giggles.

3.5/5 Stars

Hellzapoppin (1941)

Hellzapoppin_movie.jpgIt essentially begins with a fourth wall break. That’s all you need to know. Because that gives you exactly an idea of what you’re in for with Hellzapoppin’ or rather it gives you no idea whatsoever what you’re in for but really they’re one in the same. I’ve seen the movie and I still don’t quite know what it was.

If you wanted to put labels on it, I think it would be relatively safe to say that this is a comedy. In some small way, it transplants the feel if not the entire success of Ole Oleson and Chic Johnson’s Broadway hit of the same name. And Hellzapoppin’ was a big hit. It only makes sense that Hollywood would want to try and commoditize it.

But fearful of such a fearless anything goes endeavor the studio got cold feet and wanted some “substance” too. And not to be outdone the film’s two stars gave them a plot, ironically, about Ole and Chic finding a plot for the movie they’re in. So there you have it. Problem solved and everyone’s happy. The two nutcases go from an opening routine in hell with a steady barrage of gags to a mediocre plotline at a stately mansion still strung out with a line of gags and it wears its movie within a movie reality right on its sleeve, brazen enough to bring in its director and plucky screenwriter (none other than the always imposing Elisha Cook Jr.). So it’s as close to an “Anything Goes” musical as you can actually get. Yes, you heard that right. Cole Porter eat your heart out.

Anyhow, it’s a testament to the front half of the film, it’s so wonky and zany with wall to wall gags, non-sequiturs, and bits that by the film’s latter half it just cannot maintain that same frenetic pace. And how can you blame it? It does absolutely, insane, inane, and absurd things in the course of an hour or so.

To begin with, it’s barely functioning as a story or if it is a story only for the purposes of its fourth-wall breaks, sight gags, stupid puns, slapstick, and general stretching of all narrative conventions for the sake of some guffaws. But it also happens to be absolutely uproarious in nearly all the right ways — a sheer delight of pure nuttiness.

It’s a comedy disguised as a musical on top of a romance all wrapped up in a metanarrative that will make you scratch your head again and again. You’ll have no idea what you’re watching. You’ll question if the real-life director (not the one in the film) went through a midlife crisis, or if the scriptwriter (again, not the one in the film) was on something, or the projectionist (also not the one in the film played by Shemp Howard) accidentally spliced together multiple reels from different movies right before the film was sent for mass production.

As such, there are no comparisons to be made. Nothing comes close. Maybe Night at the Opera (1935) is the closest I can come– somehow matched with the fourth wall breaking of Rocky and Bullwinkle serials and the metaness of some of Community’s most self-aware episodes. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do.

When you keep throwing mud up against a wall hoping it sticks comedically speaking, making funny faces, having random people walk in front of the camera, talking to people behind said camera, inserting a storyline to give the pretense of narrative, using every kind of prop imaginable, all while taking some allotted time for song and dance and random asides, this is what you get. Nothing more. Nothing less. That’s all I can say. Because there’s no possible way to even begin to describe what this is.  It’s Hellzapoppin. That’s what. Just watch it. Unless you’re Stinky Miller. Then, go home. Your mother’s calling you (wink, wink)…

3.5/5 Stars

Review: A Night at the Opera (1935)

ANATOcontract“That’s in every contract, that’s what you call a sanity clause.” – Groucho

“You can’t a fool a me there ain’t no sanity clause” – Chico

The Marx Brothers had a set formula, where everyone else played the drama straight and they did whatever they wanted. So essentially there is no formula, lending itself to the anarchic comedy that they will be forever known for. However, if you put A Night at the Opera up against there earlier work at Paramount (this was their first film with MGM), you can see some important changes. Wunderkind Irving Thalberg wanted to give their films a more concrete plot line and in an effort to make them more sympathetic figures, all their antics were aimed at obvious “villains,” while they helped those who needed help. In this case, it was the aspiring opera star Rosa (Kitty Carlisle) and her beau Ricardo (Allan Jones), who get a helping hand from the boys.

This restructuring worked out because although the film plays out dramatically under the direction of Sam Wood, the Marx Brothers are still up to their old tricks, pulling off the same stunts that they used to. In fact, A Night at the Opera would be a very boring operatic drama by itself. Some of the interludes including song and dance are rather dull even in their extravagance. But Chico, Harpo, and Groucho inject the film with their brand of comedy that is difficult to top.

Groucho’s quips are aimed once more at the oft-abused Margaret Dumont. And then Harpo and Chico help befuddle the conceited opera star Lasparri, an Opera Company magnate (Sig Ruman), and the police among others.

ANightattheOperaStateroomThe film borrows the stowaway storyline from Monkey Business (1931) so the brothers and their friend  Ricardo can follow the opera to New York. This lends itself to the now iconic stateroom scene where a total of 15 individuals are crammed together into Groucho’s tiny ocean liner abode.

Earlier on Chico and Groucho have fun drawing up and ripping apart a contract for their new partnership (including the famed Sanity Clause at the end). It ends up that the three fugitives are on the run from the authorities and Groucho is thrown out of his job finally.

But everything culminates at the opening performance at the opera and the Brothers are in high form. Chico and Harpo invade the orchestra pit, insert “Take Me Out the Ballgame” into the arrangement, and join the cast as a pair of gypsies. Meanwhile, Groucho delivers his usual quips from the box above, much to the dismay of all the patrons. To top it off, Harpo goes swinging up above the performance making a shambles of Lasparri’s big night, and Rosa and Ricardo are able to win over the audience. But it goes without saying, it’s the Marx Brother’s who steal the show. Groucho is as rude as ever. Harpo is always ready to knock someone out, and Chico is just waiting to join in on the ruckus. It’s comic mayhem at its apex.

4.5/5 Stars

A Day at the Races (1937)

Starring The Marx Brothers, the film begins with a pretty young lady who owns a sanitarium near a racetrack. In danger of closing, she brings in a new doctor named Hackenbush (who specializes in horses) and at the same time her love buys a race horse. A powerful man wants the place closed down so he can build a casino and he is in cahoots with the financial adviser  a wily woman, and the police. However, wanting to help the two lovebirds out, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo lend a wild helping hand. It all culminates with an uproarious Day at the Races. This film is full of funny moments such as the code book sequence, the dinner and wall papering scene, the medical exam, and of course the final race. I felt that a lot of the music was an unnecessary added feature.

4/5 Stars

A Night at the Opera (1935)

Starring The Marx Brothers, this vehicle for their comedy has Groucho, Harpo, and Chico trying to help two lovers earn  positions at the opera. Along the way Groucho tries to marry a rich patron and Chico and Harpo run from the law as stowaways. This film which could be seen as having a dramatic story, is constantly interrupted by Marxian gags. Some memorable moments include the insanity clause, two hard-boiled eggs, Groucho’s crowded stateroom, and the final scenes in the opera house. Only with the Marx Brothers would you hear Take Me Out to the Ball Game at the opera. Although Duck Soup has critical acclaim, I find this one more entertaining as comedy with a real story line. The MGM years were ushered in by this film and solidified the Marx Brother’s legacy.

4.5/5 Stars