2021: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2021. Like the rest of life, change happens here as well, so let’s dig into a couple of things that did change. We’ll start off with one relatively minor one that you probably wouldn’t notice if I didn’t mention it: I’m now making this post an annual thing for New Year’s Eve. Sure, I also did it on New Year’s Eve last year, but the reality is that, apart from my first year when I posted it on Thanksgiving alongside that year’s Top 10 Disc Release post (although it was technically a Top 5 post to start with), I was generally doing it the day after my last review for the year. Plain and simple, I felt this year that it needed to be a New Year’s Eve post every year. Simple as that. I’ve also been working here and there on logos for my various series, and renamed a couple (with one more renamed column making its debut in 2022). I’ve changed a few minor details with my review designs, and made some changes to my homepage’s look.

And there are a few more changes in store going into 2022. I don’t know if many noticed, but I had a HUGE number of posts this year, with my regular Sunday posts, almost every Wednesday (until the last couple of months) for my posts on new physical media releases, plus my newly named Film Legends Of Yesteryear column once a month, as well as entries in my series of The Long And The Short (Series) Of It, Original Vs. Remake, Coming Up Shorts! and Screen Team Edition. It was nice trying to push my limits, just to see how far I could go, but I can’t deny that, for the last few months, I’ve been feeling like I pushed it too far, with too many posts (normally, I like to have my regular Sunday posts written almost two months before they are published, but the last few months, I’ve been finishing a few within the last day before my scheduled publishing date). So, going ahead, I will be pulling back a little. As I mentioned in my last Film Legends Of Yesteryear post, that series will no longer be an extra one, and will instead be part of my regular Sunday or Wednesday posts (whenever I have films that are from 1939, include actress Rita Hayworth amongst the cast, feature screen teams or whatever else I decide to add down the line). I will also no longer be doing any more than two or three posts a month in my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series (if I have more, I’ll just lump all of them into one post with brief descriptions, with a later post to follow in November for titles included in my “Top 10 Disc Release Of The Year” post). How much I do for any of the other non-Sunday series will vary, but the main idea is that I want (and need) to pull back a little for now.

Of course, what we were all here for was the movies, and that didn’t change much. Most of the year has been focused on my various Star Of The Month blogathons, featuring actors and actresses like Doris Day (January), Clark Gable (February), Gene Kelly (March), Cary Grant (May), Claudette Colbert (June), James Cagney (July), Barbara Stanwyck (August) and Humphrey Bogart (November), with one detour in September focusing on the musical genre. Besides all those, I also saw a number of films from writer/director Preston Sturges, with a general emphasis on the comedies, and also had a once-a-month focus on actress Rita Hayworth. My biggest discovery for this year, though, would be the films of child star Deanna Durbin. I had barely heard of her before (but hadn’t seen any of her films), and now, I’ve seen at least six of her films (all of which I thoroughly enjoyed)! I think that more or less sums up my year of movie watching!

And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2021, culled from the list of 2021 reviews, plus 2020 releases reviewed after January 1, 2021 and 2021 releases reviewed before December 31, 2021 (also a few films released on disc in 2018 and 2019, but obviously they’re included in the 2021 reviews).  While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon and support this site!

  1. Singin’ In The Rain (1952) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Taking the top spot for 2021 is the rather obvious choice of Singin’ In The Rain! Very much a tribute to the film’s producer Arthur Freed and his songwriting partner Nacio Herb Brown, this film makes use of some of their best songs, while giving us a story set in the end of the silent film era (close to the time when the tunes were originally written)! Of course, with a cast that includes Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, the whole affair is top-notch, from the acting to the singing (and especially the dancing!) and always worth seeing (or even just listening to)!
  1. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In this biographical musical, James Cagney plays George M. Cohan as he rises to become a famous songwriter and producer. Much of Cohan’s music is here, including the likes of “You’re A Grand Old Flag,” “Over There,” Give My Regards To Broadway” and “Yankee Doodle Boy,” which adds to the fun! But it’s Cagney (in his only Oscar win) that makes the film, as he proves how good he was as a song-and-dance man! Always worth seeing (especially around July 4)!
  1. Naughty Marietta (1934) (Warner Archive, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The film that brought America’s “Singing Sweethearts” together for the first time! Jeanette MacDonald plays a princess who escapes to the New World to avoid an arranged marriage, and falls in love with the leader of a group of mercenaries (played by Nelson Eddy, of course). Their chemistry makes the film (especially when they sing the classic “Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life”), with aid from Frank Morgan and Elsa Lanchester as the Governor and his wife. An easy to recommend classic!
  1. Animal Crackers (1930) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The Marx Brothers are back after the success of The Cocoanuts! Groucho plays Captain Spaulding (“Hooray for Captain Spaulding! The African explorer!”), who is the guest of honor at a weekend party hosted by Mrs. Rittenhouse (played by usual Marx Brothers foil Margaret Dumont). With hilarious comic bits from the Brothers, including “Take A Letter,” Harpo’s thievery, the bridge game and the interactions between Groucho and Chico, this is one of their funniest and most anarchic films (and highly recommended)!
  1. (Tie) It Started With Eve (1941) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Now we have a three-way tie for fifth spot on the list! In It Started With Eve, Deanna Durbin stars alongside Charles Laughton and Robert Cummings in one of her earlier adult roles! She has to pretend to be the girlfriend of Robert Cummings’ Johhny Reynolds, Jr. when his father (Laughton) is on his deathbed (and Johhny’s real girlfriend can’t be found), but she has to maintain the charade when the elder Reynolds recovers! It’s a very heartwarming film, with the song “When I Sing” as its biggest standout tune, and one that I have no trouble recommending for a bit of fun!
  1. (Tie) Mad About Music (1938) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In the second film from the three-way tie, Deanna Durbin is the secret daughter of a Hollywood actress, who can’t tell anybody about her mother, and makes up lies about her father. Her lies catch up with her when, to meet a boy, she says she is meeting her father at the train station, and then has to pick somebody out to maintain her lie! It’s another fun musical from Deanna, with the song “I Love To Whistle” as the film’s big standout! Of course, the comedy works well, too, especially with Herbert Marshall’s composer who must “fill in” as the father! Overall, very fun, and worth seeing!
  1. (Tie) Nice Girl? (1941) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In this third film of the three-way tie, Deanna stars as the middle daughter of a high school principal (played by Robert Benchley). She’s tired of her “nice girl” image, and when a handsome field man (played by Franchot Tone) comes to see whether her father merits a fellowship, she decides to try to do something about her reputation. There’s more fun here with the music, as Deanna sings songs like “Perhaps” and especially “Swanee River.” The comedy works well, especially as she (and her other sisters) try to make up to the field man! Like the other two Deanna Durbin films on this list, it’s a lot of fun, and I think it’s well worth giving a chance!
  1. Roman Holiday (1953) (Paramount Pictures, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Audrey Hepburn’s first starring role! She stars as an over-worked princess who decides to take a day to herself. Gregory Peck co-stars as a reporter who figures out that the girl he helped out is the princess, giving him a potentially big story. An overall very heartwarming film. Audrey’s Oscar win is well-deserved, and the film’s place as a classic certainly merits being on this list!
  1. San Francisco (1936) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • San Francisco features the “team” of Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald in their only film together (with Clark being paired up with Spencer Tracy for the first of three films together). In the lead-up to the infamous San Francisco earthquake on April 18, 1906, nightclub owner Blackie Norton (Gable) falls for his new singer, Mary Blake (MacDonald). The earthquake finale is well-done, as we see the city torn apart by mother nature. The movie has some fun musical moments throughout, including the title tune, “Would You” (later used in Singin’ In The Rain) and beautiful renditions by MacDonald of the hymns “Nearer My God To Thee” and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.” Overall, a wonderful classic that I love to periodically revisit!
  1. Bringing Up Baby (1938) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn star in this classic screwball comedy about a paleontologist who gets mixed up with a crazy young woman! I took to the film quite well the first time I saw it nearly a decade ago, and after seeing it for the first time since that initial viewing (and newly restored on Blu-ray, to boot!), I think the comedy holds up quite well! From a buried brontosaurus bone to panthers on the loose to time in jail, this film jut gets screwier and screwier (and ever more hilarious), making it one of the better films that I’ve seen this year!

Honorable mentions: The Lady Eve (1941) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray), It Happened On Fifth Avenue (1947) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Libeled Lady (1936) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)

So thank you all for sticking with me in 2021, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2022! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!

Also, if you are interested in joining in on my first month-long “Screen Team Of The Month” blogathon for 2022 (which starts tomorrow) featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, please be sure to check out my Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon post to sign up (or you can wait a few days to see who my star for February will be)!

Previous Years

2020

2019

2018

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Animal Crackers (1930)

For the Classic Movie Blog Assocation’s (CMBA) Fall 2021 blogathon, they chose the theme “Laughter Is The Best Medicine.” Of course, when it comes to providing laughter, it’s hard (for me) not to pick from the Marx Brothers’ filmography, so let’s go with their 1930 film Animal Crackers! Of course, before I go on any further, I have to give credit to my friends Angela and Anna, for their much-needed help and inspiration for this post (and for which I am very grateful).

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s head on down to the stage and join our crew for the day!

(The stage is covered with Christmas decorations. The Narrator comes walking out in that stooped manner that Groucho Marx was known for, wearing a pith helmet, horned-rimmed glasses, exaggerated eyebrows and a greasepaint mustache).

(Narrator): Welcome everybody, as we here prepare to celebrate the Halloween seas — (Stops and looks back at all the Christmas decorations, then turns around to look at the audience with a stunned look on his face, then turns back around.) What in the world?!?! What’s with the Christmas decorations? We’ve got trees, presents, lights, stockings on the fireplace —

(Host): (From offstage) And two hardboiled eggs.

(One honk offstage)

(Host): Make that three hardboiled eggs!

(Narrator): What are you doing? That joke’s from A Night At The Opera, not Animal Crackers! We’ll be doing that one soon enough! Now get out here!

(Host): Just a minute!

(Narrator): (Turning back to audience) As I was trying to say before, with the Halloween season upon us, we decided to celebrate in our own fashion. Since we’ve got a Marx Brothers movie to review today, we decided to dress up as the Marx Brothers.

(The Host walks on wearing a curly-haired wig, a Tyrolean hat and some slightly run down clothes)

(Host): (speaking in a fake Italian accent) That’s-a fine!

(Narrator): Drop the Italian accent. You know you can’t hold it for long. And what’s with all the Christmas decorations?

(Host): You said to decorate for the upcoming holiday!

(Narrator): I did, but I meant Halloween! It’s bad enough that everybody, particularly retailers, like to skip through the holiday season and emphasize Christmas. We’re not there yet! Now, do we have any Halloween decorations?

(A series of honks from offstage)

(Narrator): (Confused) I thought that was you?

(Host): Nope, not me. This time, even the Writer wanted to get in on the fun!

(The Writer comes on wearing a very large trench coat, a battered top hat, a blonde wig, and carrying a cane with a horn on the end. The Narrator offers his hand for a handshake as the Writer comes up to them, but instead the Writer puts his leg in the Narrator’s hand.)

(Narrator): (Putting the Writer’s leg down) So, you’re taking things to that extreme, eh?

(The Writer nods his head enthusiastically, squeezing the horn on his cane.)

(Narrator): (Speaking to the Host) So, apparently you’ve got a silent partner now.

(Host): Oh, that’s nothing. You should hear him when he really gets going!

(Narrator): (Sarcastically) Oooh, I’ll bet. (Speaking to audience) All right folks, I know you’re here for a movie review, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But first, we need to get this holiday mess settled. Do we have any Halloween decorations to put out?

(The Writer whistles to get the Narrator’s attention, and pulls a pumpkin out from his coat.)

(Narrator): Well, that’s one. Have you got any that have been carved?

(Again, the Writer nods enthusiastically, and pulls another pumpkin out of his coat, this time one with Harpo’s famous “Gookie” face carved into it.)

(Narrator): That’s the most gruesome looking object I’ve ever seen. And I’m saying that with you still standing here. And for the reading audience, who don’t know what Harpo’s “Gookie” face is (which I didn’t either, until researching for this), here’s a picture (obviously not on a pumpkin).

(Narrator): Now, can you imagine a pumpkin with that face on it? That’s as scary a thing as I can think of. Alright. I’ll let you put up some Halloween decorations while we get around to the movie.

(The Writer starts pulling various Halloween decorations out of his coat.)

(Narrator): (Stops to think) Now, what movie were we here for again?

(Host): That’s funny, it just slipped my mind.

(The Writer pulls a box of animal crackers out of his coat and starts munching on them while decorating.)

(Narrator): Ah, Animal Crackers, that’s it!

(Host): That sounds about right.

(Narrator): Oh, like you were going to come up with it. Nevermind. The Marx Brothers made it to the Broadway stage with the musical revue I’ll Say She Is (1924), a success which was followed up with The Cocoanuts (1925) and Animal Crackers (1928). In fact, their first talking picture would be the film version of The Cocoanuts, which they made at Paramount’s Astoria studios in New York City. They filmed The Cocoanuts during the day, and performed onstage in Animal Crackers in the evenings (a schedule which resulted in Groucho having one slight slip-up that made it into The Cocoanuts, where he accidentally started to refer to Chico Marx’s character by the character’s name from Animal Crackers before starting to correct himself). The Cocoanuts proved to be a hit with movie audiences, with the Marx Brothers in particular being singled out as the best parts of the movie, which obviously meant that they were going to do another film for Paramount. Of course, while audiences were enamored with their onscreen shenanigans, they were also a lot of trouble offscreen, arriving late to the set, leaving early for golf or lunch, sleeping in their dressing rooms, etc.

(While the Narrator is speaking, the Writer pulls a piano and a piano bench out of his coat. The Host walks over, helps set them up right, and sits down to play the piano.)

(Host): Alright!

(The Host plays the song “I’m Daffy Over You,” which was written by Chico Marx. Now, as an aside here to the audience, I am providing a link to a YouTube video of the song. If you haven’t seen the movie Animal Crackers, Chico plays the song over and over without stopping, much to Groucho’s annoyance. I have several videos placed throughout this post, but whether the timing and placement is correct may not be accurate. However you choose to do it, whether with the same first video or with every one, I would suggest playing the music in the background over and over until I stop it in this post so that you can get the general idea. Now, back to the Host, with the music starting.)

(Narrator): (Speaking to the Host) Keep quiet back there! (The music continues.) Oh well, I’ve heard worse. (Back to the audience) As I was saying their antics didn’t go over well with the studio, so Paramount hired Victor Heerman (who had a reputation for keeping discipline on his films) as the director. Of course, the Marxes were hardly his only duty, as actress Lillian Roth (who played Arabella Rittenhouse in the movie) had been a problem for director Cecil B. DeMille when filming Madame Satan (1930), and she was put in Animal Crackers as punishment (which was apparently effective). Of course, the end results on the movie spoke for themselves, as the Marx Brothers had another hit on their hands, which resulted in them moving to Hollywood and getting new film properties to work with (as opposed to adaptations of stage plays they had been in), starting with Monkey Business (1931).

(Host): (While still playing the music, and attempting an Italian accent again) That’s-a fine. Now how about the movie’s plot?

(Narrator): I thought I told you to drop the accent? I’m getting to the movie. I’m getting to it! The wealthy Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) and her daughter, Arabella (Lillian Roth) are hosting a party at their home for the social elite in honor of the recently returned African explorer Captain Geoffrey (or Jeffrey, as the film can’t make up its mind which spelling to use) Spaulding (Groucho Marx). The high point of the party is supposed to be the unveiling of the famous artist Beaugard’s painting After The Hunt by the famous art connoisseur Roscoe Chandler (Louis Sorin). Captain Spaulding arrives with his secretary, Horatio Jamison (Zeppo Marx) –

(The Host starts playing the song from the start again)

(Narrator): No, no, that’s the wrong song for this spot! Uy, uy. Anyways, upon his arrival, the captain announces that he will leave immediately. Mrs. Rittenhouse prevails upon him to stay, and they are shortly joined by Signor Emanuel Ravelli (Chico Marx) and his partner, the Professor (Harpo Marx), who will provide the musical entertainment for the weekend. Meanwhile, Arabella has invited her painter boyfriend, John Parker (Hal Thompson) to the party, but he laments over his lack of success with his paintings. He shows her a copy he had painted of the Beaugard painting After The Hunt (the one being unveiled), and, upon examination, they have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Sensing an opportunity, Arabella comes up with the idea to switch the paintings, so that they can reveal John’s talent and convince Chandler to commission a portrait. To switch the paintings, Arabella asks Ravelli if he could switch them when no one is looking. They are not the only ones plotting a switch, as Mrs. Rittenhouse’s “friends” Grace Carpenter (Kathryn Reece) and Mrs. Whitehead (Margaret Irving) plot to do the same thing (except with Grace’s very poor copy). They ask Mrs. Rittenhouse’s butler, Hives (Robert Grieg) (who had worked for them in the past) to change the paintings when he gets the chance. That night, Ravelli and the Professor successfully make the switch. The next day, Captain Spaulding regales everybody with tales of his adventures in Africa, followed up with music provided by Ravelli and the Professor.

(The Host once again starts playing the song from the beginning.)

(Narrator): (Slaps his forehead in frustration) How much would you take to go play in traffic or run into that wall over there?

(The Writer comes over, pulls a dollar bill out of the Narrator’s pocket, then goes running at the wall. Right as he reaches the wall, a pair of stagehands walk by with a set piece of a wall, blocking everybody’s view of the Writer. When they pass by, he has disappeared, without creating a hole in the wall.)

(Host): (Still playing the music) He, he, he. I guess that’s what you’d call a “Ghost Writer,” eh, Cap?

(Narrator): That may be, but he took my dollar! I didn’t even offer it to him!

(Host): Well, if you need it that much, I can give you a dollar!

(Narrator): Well, that’s as good an offer as I’ve had, thank you!

(Host): Here’s your dollar, Cap. (pulls a bill out of his pocket) $9 change, please.

(Narrator): (Puts his head between his legs for a moment, before coming back to an upright position) Never mind. I’ll be alright.

(The music stops playing a second before the Host seems to stop playing. The Narrator strokes his chin as he ponders what he just saw, while the Host clumsily tries to cover up his mistake.)

(Narrator): (Suspicious) Finally, you’re done with that music. But seriously, though, we’re talking about Animal Crackers here. I know that money gag is still Marx Brothers (Go West), but couldn’t you at least stick to jokes from this movie instead?

(Host): Eh, maybe I can. So, what happened next in this movie?

(Narrator): (Looks away back to audience) Next up was the unveiling of the painting. Upon seeing it, Chandler declares it to be a poor imitation. Shortly thereafter, the lights go out, and, upon coming back on, that painting is gone, too. Everybody proceeds to search the grounds in hopes of finding the painting.

(Host): So, the thief stole the painting?

(Narrator): (Annoyed) Yes.

(Host): Who did they suspect?

(Narrator): Well, some suspected the Professor, but they brought the police in to help find the painting, just the same. (Stops to think for a second) You know, it’s been awful quiet for a bit since the Writer left. Given how much he’s acting like Harpo, we need to check the inventory of everything around here and find him!

(Host): Sounds like a good idea. (Checks pockets to see if everything is there.) I’ve got everything, Cap.

(Narrator): (Checks his own pockets, finds nothing missing as well) Same here. Let’s go get him back out here to make sure about everything else!

(The Host and the Narrator both run offstage, and come back on after a moment, dragging in the Writer.)

(Narrator): All right. Empty out your coat.

(The Writer pulls out the bouquet of yellow roses.)

(Narrator): Wait a minute. Those were from the Author to his friends for their help and inspiration. Give them to me!

(The Narrator takes the flowers and puts them back at the beginning of the post where they belong. However, the Writer still has one flower and starts chewing on it.)

(Narrator): You’re really taking this one quite far, aren’t you?

(The Writer nods and keeps chewing on the flower.)

(Narrator): Come on, keep emptying that coat!

(The Writer finishes off the flower and starts pulling a string of Christmas lights out of his sleeve. The string just keeps coming and coming, and both the Narrator and the Host grab ahold and help pull it out. Finally, after pulling out one thousand feet’s worth of Christmas lights, they come to the end of the string.)

(Narrator): (Sarcastically) And I don’t suppose you can turn them on, either?

(The Writer nods enthusiastically, pulls a lightbulb out of his coat, grabs one end of the string of lights, sticks the lightbulb in his mouth, and all the lights light up.)

(Host): Well, he’s going to be prepared for the holidays.

(Narrator): Anything else in that coat of yours?

(The Writer pulls the lightbulb out of his mouth, and reluctantly pulls a giant screen TV out of his coat.)

(Narrator): If any of you at home can figure out how he pulled that one off, you’re good. (Turning to the Writer) Does it still work?

(The Writer pulls out a remote, and turns on the TV. On the TV is Animal Crackers, particularly the “Take A Letter” scene. The Writer pulls a chair out of his coat and sits down to watch it. The Narrator and the Host both pause to watch as well.)

(Host): (As they continue to watch the scene) Good stuff, eh Cap?

(Narrator): Indeed. That reminds me, I need to write my own letter to my girlfriend. Take a letter!

(Host): (Still intently watching the TV) Who, me?

(Narrator): Yes, you. Take a letter!

(The Writer pulls a pencil and notepad out of his coat and hands them over to the Host.)

(Narrator): I said take a letter! (Pauses for a moment) Have you written anything?

(The Host is still transfixed by the TV and says nothing.)

(Narrator): My dearest Niña.

(Host): So I’m writing this to Niña?

(Narrator): Don’t question me, let me think. “My dearest Niña. The earth stopped turning yesterday for about five minutes and threw off time. As a result, the laundry pile has gained consciousness. There is a wombat in the drainpipe. Not my fault. Hand me a paintbrush, stat! Pirate flags make everyone look more cultured. The eclipse will cause the cows to melt. There is cheese in my hair. My laptop is on fire. Oops. And in conclusion, I’d like to say that that person is really just made of bees, and I love you. Kindest regards.” You can put my name down later. Now, read it back to me.

(Host): “My dearest Niña.”

(Narrator): That’s good so far. Keep going.

(Host): Well, that’s all I have, as you started going off on a tangent, and I was too engrossed in the TV, so I decided to omit everything else.

(Narrator): (Slaps head in frustration) You realize you omitted the body of the letter? That’s the most important stuff!

(Host): Yep.

(Narrator): (Satisfied) Well, that’s fine. Put it in an envelope, and send it to Iris, Jillian, Daphene, Allison, Belle and Gemma. You’ll find their addresses in my phone.

(Host): But I thought I was sending it to Niña?

(Narrator): You are. That’s my pet name for all of them. Make several copies and send the letter as is, and tell them the body will follow.

(Host): Whose body?

(Narrator): Hopefully, not mine. I know they have gardening tools and have been looking for a project, but hopefully I can duck it. Anyways, after you make copies of the letter, burn the original, and shred the copies.

(Host): Ok, boss.

(Narrator): Now, back to the movie. Obviously, the police and everybody search for the painting, and at one point John Parker is accused of stealing it. But, the right painting is eventually found, and everything turns out well for everybody (almost).

(Host): That’s the end of the story, eh Cap?

(Narrator): Quite! Of course, this movie was originally released before the Production Code went into effect, so, upon re-release in 1936 (after the Code was implemented), a few moments here and there were cut from the original camera negative (in an era where they didn’t keep deleted scenes). After some time, Paramount essentially allowed its licenses for the film to expire (with the rights reverting to the authors of the Broadway show), and therefore it wasn’t shown theatrically or on television for quite some time. Eventually, Universal bought most of Paramount’s pre-1950 sound features, but Animal Crackers was such a legal mess that they left it alone. In the 1970s, some students from UCLA convinced Groucho Marx to help them push Universal to re-release the film in a very successful bid. Even so, it was still the edited version, which would be the only way the film was available until Universal found a 35mm duplicate negative held at the British Film Institute and restored it for theatrical distribution and a Blu-ray release in 2016.

(Host): What a life this film has had, eh?

(Narrator): Indeed! But, even after all this time, it still works as one of the best Marx Brothers movies. It’s hard not to laugh at their antics, whether it be Groucho and his tales of African exploration, or the bridge game, or the conversations between Groucho and Chico (honestly, some of the film’s best comedic moments), or watching everything fall from Harpo’s coat when the police are shaking his hand. Not to mention other moments that have been referenced here! For me, this is definitely still the Marx Brothers at their peak (which would still last for a few years after this, as they finished out their run at Paramount plus their first two films at MGM), which easily makes this film worth seeing, especially when in need of a good laugh (but I guarantee that you won’t stop at one laugh with this movie)!

This movie is available in its entirety on Blu-ray as part of the five-film The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection from Universal Studios.

(Host): Well, we finally got to the end.

(Narrator): Alright!

(“I’m Daffy Over You” starts playing again, and the Host hurriedly tries to push the Narrator around as he makes a mad dash for the piano to resume “playing” the song.)

(Host): (After a moment of playing with the song) Alright! (The music stops playing)

(Narrator): That’s real original. You know that’s an Abbott and Costello routine, don’t you?

(Host): Well, what am I supposed to do? I can’t maintain the Italian accent, the Author isn’t as good at writing wordplay like Chico tended to use, and I can’t play the piano, so what else was I supposed to do?

(Narrator): Well, you were supposed to —

(Writer): (Walking away from the television) “Hooray For Captain Spaulding, the African explorer!”

(The Host and the Narrator stop and gape at the now-speaking Writer.)

(Writer): Well, with this movie, SOMEBODY had to do it!

(The Host and the Narrator look at each other.)

(Host and Narrator): (In unison) Get him out of here!!

(The Host and the Narrator grab the Writer and proceed to run him off the stage. Offstage, the sounds of a scuffle can be heard.)

(Host): (Sticking his head back out) Well, that’s all we have to say folks! (Pulls head back off as offstage fight continues)

(Narrator): (Sticking his head back out) Thanks for listening, and come back soon! (Pulls head back off as offstage fight continues)

(The Writer sticks his head out, whistles, honks his horn and waves before pulling his head back off.)

Film Length: 1 hour, 39 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Groucho Marx – A Night At The Opera (1935)

Chico Marx – A Night At The Opera (1935)

Harpo Marx – A Night At The Opera (1935)

The Marx Brothers – A Night At The Opera (1935)

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