Great Movies – 100 Years of Film are letting me settle into some fantastic Marx Brothers films with their recommendations following A Night At The Opera. This time around the boys are at a weekend party celebrating the return of Captain Spaulding (Groucho) from his questionable travels in Africa (“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.”), to celebrate Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) is hosting a party and unveiling a painting. However a scheming pair of society ladies plot to swap out the original with their less than stellar copy, and an aspiring, and struggling artist, who wants to marry Rittenhouse’s daughter, plans to swap out the original with their copy.
All of this insanity is stirred and brought to a boil when Chico and Harpo show up as well, as Signor Emanuel Ravelli and the Professor respectively. The two chase women, rig bridge games (the full contact version), out a poser as a fishmonger, steal the paintings, and generally cause havoc, while Spaulding specializes in wordplay.
For my money, and this is only my second time seeing this one, A Night At The Opera is the stronger film, this one, based on a musical play, which they performed on stage in 1928, gets too weighed down in musical numbers, and comes to a dead stop again when Chico and Harpo both take their moments to play the piano and the harp.
Also wandering through this one is the fourth brother, Zeppo, pretty much sidelined as nothing more than a straight man for a couple of scenes with Grouch, as he serves as Spauldings aide Jamison.
There are a lot of fun moments, but also a lot of awkward pauses, which I’m assumed were added to let the audience guffaw and not miss the next witty bon mot, or the pacing and acting was just completely off.
Harpo’s Professor is a bit of a lech, chasing down any woman he can, when he’s not hunting clocks, birds and hats with his rifle.
The film’s plot runs off the rails fairly quickly in a good way, as the insanity that only the Marx Brothers can delivery takes over the screen, with absurd one-liners, reflective moments, and just hilarious bits of physical comedy.
Groucho, as always, remains my favorite of the brothers, and some of the lines that spill from his mouth, I simply want to write down and use in my everyday life, because they are just do damned clever. Course his delivery has a lot to do with it as well.
Great Movies – 100 Years of Film has served me very well so far, and once again I am enjoying expanding my film knowledge by delving into films I may not have seen, and revisiting others, and spending this time with the Marx Brothers is always a lot of fun!
Next up is yet another one, I get to settle in and watch Monkey Business directed by Norman Z. McLeod! That one sounds like just good fun!
What’s your favorite Marx Brothers feature?