What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… A Night At The Opera (1935)

As I promised when I reviewed Animal Crackers recently, I had one more Marx Brothers film up my sleeve to review. So here we are for more fun with Groucho, Chico and Harpo in their 1935 classic comedy A Night At The Opera! Also, much like my review of Animal Crackers, I had some help and inspiration from some of my friends for this one, so I would like very much to thank Angela and Mary for their thoughts and ideas!

Coming Up Shorts! with… How To Sleep (1935)

(Available as an extra on the A Night At The Opera Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 40 seconds)

Robert Benchley gives a lecture on how to fall asleep. Of course, all we see is how much trouble he has falling asleep. Whether it’s trying to take a hot bath (or not), or trying to drink warm milk (and raiding the fridge at the same time), or the gymnastics that occur as one tries to sleep, it’s easy to relate to for those who struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Robert Benchley, of course, does a good job with the lecture, while also trying (and failing) to successfully demonstrate what he is talking about. Good fun, anyways!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Sunday Night At The Trocadero (1937)

(Available as an extra on the A Night At The Opera Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 20 minutes, 18 seconds)

Studio executives and various celebrities come to the Trocadero nightclub, in order to see the show being put on there. Reginald Denny is also on hand with his candid camera to get shots of the guests. It’s an interesting short, especially to see some of the various movie stars, like Robert Benchley, Frank Morgan and Groucho Marx (without his greasepaint mustache). There are a few fun songs, one or two of them with an accompanying dance routine that are entertaining. Some of the humor, particularly from Peter Lind Hayes as a uniformed messenger trying to do impressions for the execs, falls a bit flat. Honestly, the biggest problem here is that this short is very much in need of restoration, particularly for the sound, which is very hard to decipher sometimes.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Los Angeles: Wonder City Of The West (1935)

(Available as an extra on the A Night At The Opera Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 32 seconds)

This short, from the TravelTalk series, focuses on Los Angeles. We see a few of the various landmarks of the city, before it focuses on a few of the movie studios. It’s fun seeing a few of the studios, especially RKO (which I haven’t seen too many pictures of). Near the end, the short stops at the Disney studios, and we even get to see Walt himself for a moment or two. I will still admit to not really being much of a fan of this series of shorts, but this one was kind of fun to see because of the movie studio aspects.

And Now For The Main Feature…

(The curtain is down.)

(Author): (Over loudspeakers) Welcome back everyone! Back by popular demand, it’s our Narrator, Host and Writer masquerading as the Marx Brothers! So heeeeere’s our Narrator again as Groucho!

(The Narrator comes walking out in that stooped manner that Groucho Marx was known for, wearing a tuxedo, horned-rimmed glasses, exaggerated eyebrows and a greasepaint mustache).

(Narrator): Thank you for that introduction, but that’s Nate Nubender to you! We do have names, you know!

(Author): (Walking onstage) So what? We’ve got more important things to do than worry about your silly names, so let’s get this show on the road! Raise the curtain!

(The curtain rises, revealing the set once again covered in Christmas decorations, including a tree, presents, lights and stockings on the fireplace. A steamer trunk is standing in the center of the stage. A banner reaches from one side to the other, with the phrase “How’s this, Lonnie Orangebottom?” printed across it.)

(Narrator): “Lonnie Orangebottom?” Whose funny name is that?

(Author): (Furious) Applebottom! That’s supposed to be “APPLEbottom!” Wait until I get my hands on those guys!

(Narrator): (Mocking the Author) What’s your problem? You said so yourself: We’ve got more important things to do than worry about your silly names!

(Author): Oh, shut up! I’m going to tell those two a thing or three when I find them (Walks offstage in a huff)

(Narrator): Well, now that I’ve got the stage to myself, it’s time for me to make a speech to introduce everything. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

(The audience pulls off their ears and throws them at the Narrator.)

(Narrator): Hmm, this audience has been watching some Mel Brooks lately… (Speaking to self) Hey, maybe I can use this… (Back to audience) Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your beards!

(Members of the audience pull off their beards and throw them at the stage, filling it with facial hair.)

(Narrator): That’s the ticket! (Whistles)

(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 one end and a broom on the other end, while also holding a bag. He starts sweeping the hair into the bag, and, when it is filled, takes it to the steamer trunk to empty it out.)

(Narrator): While he’s doing that, let’s get started with the story! The movie opens on the streets of Italy, as various Italians break out into bits of operatic tunes —

(Host): (From offstage) Hold it! (Pokes head in from the side) Before I come out, is “Orangebutt” here?

(Narrator): No, he’s off looking for you two elsewhere.

(Host): (Speaking in a fake Italian accent) That’s-a fine! (He walks out, wearing a curly-haired wig, a Tyrolean hat and some slightly run down clothes, as the Narrator shakes his head.)

(Narrator): Well, now that you’re out here, why did you stop me from telling the story?

(Host): Because you’re confusing some of the audience, that’s why! You’re trying to start with the film’s original opening, which hasn’t been seen in a LOOONG time (and you’re too young to have seen it yourself, you’re just trying to work with the description on the Wikipedia page). When the movie was originally released in 1935, it did indeed have a longer opening, and slightly longer running time. What later transpired was that the film was cut (when exactly, I’m not sure, as I’ve seen different sources state different timeframes). Everything that was cut from the film was particular references to Italy, partly due to the Italian government’s objections that it made fun of the Italian people. All those scenes were cut from the master negative (and supposedly destroyed), so that is the way that the movie has been seen ever since (and some of those edits are fairly noticeable). There is a rumor that —

(Author): (Gradually getting louder as if getting close to the stage) Where are they?

(In a comical, cartoonish fashion, the Host and the Writer both drop what they are doing and make a beeline for the steamer trunk. They manage to get it closed just a second before the Author pokes his head onstage.)

(Author): I could have sworn I heard the Host’s voice around here. Have you seen them?

(Narrator): Hearing voices, eh? You know that’s bad for you!

(Author): Oh, you’re no help! (Goes back to looking around offstage)

(Narrator): (Walks over to the trunk and locks the Host and Writer in) Serves those two right for interrupting the story. (Walks back to center stage, while the trunk starts shaking about) Anyway, the wealthy Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont) has hired Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx) to help get her into society. So far, he hasn’t done much for the salary that she is paying him, but he has helped her contact opera impresario Herman Gottlieb (Sig Ruman, billed here as “Siegfried Rumann”) to help finance an opera show in America. Gottlieb tells her that they should sign Italian tenor Rodolpho Lassparri (Walter Woolf King), and when Driftwood hears how much they are willing to pay Lassparri, he decides to go sign Lassparri himself (and try to pocket some of the money). Meanwhile, at the theatre, Lassparri is angry with his dresser, Tomasso (Harpo Marx) –

(Host): (From inside trunk) Hey, are you going to let us out?

(Narrator): Not yet! As I was saying, Lassparri is angry with his dresser, Tomasso. He is also annoyed at leading lady Rosa Castaldi (Kitty Carlisle), who has spurned his affections in favor of one of the members of the chorus, Ricardo Barrone (Allan Jones). Ricardo’s childhood friend Fiorello (Chico Marx) returns after wandering from one job to another, and offers to be Ricardo’s manager. When Driftwood comes backstage after the opera to sign Lassparri, he ends up talking with Fiorello and accidentally signing Ricardo instead. When Gottlieb gets backstage, he rectifies Driftwood’s mistake, and so Gottlieb, Mrs. Claypool, Driftwood, Lassparri and Rosa (Lassparri’s choice of leading lady) get on a boat to head to America. Lonesome for Rosa, Ricardo stows away in Driftwood’s steamer trunk, along with Fiorello and Tomasso.

(Host): (From inside the still shaking trunk) Hey, let us out!

(Narrator): Oh, alright.

(As soon as he unlocks the trunk and they start to walk out, they hear the sounds of the Author’s returning footsteps, and hurriedly get back in the trunk. The Narrator finishes locking them in and turns around to lean on the trunk just as the Author comes back onstage.)

(Narrator): Any luck finding them?

(Author): (Frustrated) None at all. They seem to have left the building.

(Narrator): Ah, too bad. Shall we get back to the story?

(Author): Eh. I’ll let you get back to it in a moment. In the meantime, we’ve got to plan the Thanksgiving meal. The Christmas decorations may not matter much, but we do need to have the meal planned out. (Pulls phone out of pocket) What do you think we need?

(Narrator): Well, we need some food, that’s for sure.

(Author): (Frustrated and annoyed) I KNOW that. What should we get?

(Narrator): What have we got for drinks?

(Author): Well, we’ve got our regular milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, milkshakes –

(Narrator): Whoa, whoa! Let’s turn off the taps on those cows, we don’t want to milk this joke too much, as we only need the regular stuff!

(The Author writes this down on his phone as the Narrator is speaking.)

(Narrator): So let’s see, we need some turkey, with all the stuffing.

(Host): (From inside the trunk) With two slices of ham.

(Narrator): With two slices of ham.

(Honk from inside trunk)

(Narrator): Make that three slices of ham.

(Author): What else?

(Narrator): Well, we need some scrambled eggs, deviled eggs and green eggs.

(Host): (From inside the trunk) With two slices of ham.

(Narrator): With two slices of ham.

(Honk from inside trunk)

(Narrator): Make that three slices of ham.

(Author): (Looking up from phone) Green eggs and ham?

(Narrator): Well, you didn’t expect me to just pass by the obvious reference did you, Sam I Am?

(Author): (Shaking his head as he goes back to his phone) What else?

(Narrator): Well, how about some baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and fried potatoes.

(Host): (From inside the trunk) With two slices of ham.

(Narrator): With two slices of ham.

(Honk from inside trunk)

(Narrator): Make that three slices of ham.

(Author): Any fruits or salads?

(Narrator): Have you got any grapefruit?

(Author): Yes.

(Narrator): Well, squeeze the grapes out for some wine, and that’ll be our fruit.

(Host): (From inside the trunk) With two slices of ham.

(Narrator): With two slices of ham.

(Honk from inside trunk)

(Narrator): Make that three slices of ham.

(Short honk from inside trunk)

(Narrator): And one slice of pork.

(Author): (Starting to get suspicious) Any dessert?

(Narrator): What options are there for pie?

(Author): Apple, pumpkin, cherry and raspberry.

(Narrator): Well, give them some ice cream and leave the sugary stuff in my room. No sense in giving those two enough sugar to start bouncing off the walls. We just finished repairing them from the last time.

(Host): (From inside the trunk) With two slices of ham.

(Narrator): With two slices of ham.

(A series of twelve honks from inside trunk as a fog bank rolls in from right stage.)

(Narrator): I would have said make that fourteen slices of ham, but there seems to be a fog bank rolling in. Better get that food ordered so that it can get here!

(Author): Ok. (Starts walking towards right stage, mumbling to himself) How in the world a fog bank is coming in to a stage, I’ll never know… (Walks offstage)

(Narrator): (Unlocking the trunk and poking his head in) That’s just fine. We know he’s an idiot, but you do realize that every time you open your mouth, I’m taking a big chance on him not figuring it out?

(Author): (Coming back toward stage) Hey!

(The Narrator quickly closes up the trunk and turns to look towards the Author.)

(Author): I found the source of the fog! Somebody left a fan running over here by the dry ice!

(Narrator): Well, that’s fine! Why don’t you turn it off and get around to the food?

(Author): OK!

(The Author goes back off to turn off the fan. The Narrator starts turning around again to open up the trunk, but the Author pokes his head back out, forcing the Narrator to abandon that action.)

(Author): I forgot to mention, getting the turkey might be difficult, as they seem to be a bit scarce this year.

(Narrator): Don’t worry about the turkey. I’ll take care of that.

(Author): OK. But don’t forget, if you find the other two, tell them that you all need to tame your antics down. This isn’t a review about one of Paramount Marx Brothers films, where they were a lot more anarchic. After doing Duck Soup at Paramount (long considered something of a flop), they came to MGM on the urging of producer Irving Thalberg (a bridge partner of Chico’s). Under Thalberg’s direction, they became less anarchic, and more focused on helping the lead romantic couple against whatever villains they faced (as opposed to anybody who happened to cross the Marx Brothers’ paths). (Goes back offstage)

(The Narrator finally has his chance, and lets the Host and Writer out of the trunk.)

(Host): He does realize that’s why we’re picking on HIM, right? That he’s our “villain?”

(Narrator): Who know, and who cares? The fun is in getting his goat! (Turns to the Writer) Now, it’s YOUR job to get a turkey! So get going!

(The Writer salutes him with his cane, and starts marching offstage.)

(Narrator): Well, now that that’s taken care of, shall we get back to the story?

(Host): Yes, let’s.

(Narrator): As I was about to say before that mess, when the three stowaways get out and about on the ship, they are caught and locked up. With Driftwood’s help, they escape, and disguise themselves as three famous bearded aviators. However, when the ship docks, they are taken to a ceremony at city hall, where police sergeant Henderson (Robert Emmett O’Connor) realizes that they are fakes. All three escape, and stay with a reluctant Driftwood at his hotel.

(All of a sudden, the air is filled with feathers, as the Writer comes in chasing a turkey and swinging a rubber mallet. The Narrator and the Host start ducking to avoid being hit with the mallet.)

(Host): That looks like the (Ducks down) turkey from Room Service, doesn’t it?

(Narrator): (Ducks down) That certainly looks like the (Ducks down), the one, yes.

(Host): Well, it looks like we’ve got our Thanksgiving Turkey cover –

(The Writer hits the Host on the head with the mallet, knocking him out. The Writer stops chasing the turkey, which gets away, and catches the Host, putting the mallet under his head to hold him up. He pulls out a bottle of smelling salts, and waves them under the Host’s nose.)

(Narrator): That’s good. That shows that you’re sorry.

(The Host starts to wake up. Before he can finish sitting up, the Writer grabs the mallet and hits him on the head again, knocking him out.)

(Narrator): Serves him right. I’ve been meaning to get rid of him and hire a new Host, anyways. Know anybody that’s available?

(The Writer nods enthusiastically, pointing to himself.)

(Narrator): Oh, so you’re available. Well, that’s fine. Let me get a contract out for you. (Pulls a couple of contracts out and starts reading them.) Let’s see… this contract is for an E. Hu… (Looks down at the unconscious Host and sets the contract on him before looking at the next one.) Alright, and this one hasn’t been signed yet, so we’re good. Now, shall we go over it together?

(The Writer nods.)

(Narrator): Ok. The first part says that, uh… “The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part.” That sound good to you so far?

(The Writer nods. The Host starts to wake up, and the Writer hit him again with the mallet.)

(Narrator): Stay asleep, you. Now, what’s next? Oh, yes. “The party of the second part shall be known in this contract as the party of the second part.” How’s that?

(The Writer frowns, and tears off the top part of his contract.)

(Narrator): That bad, huh? Well then… (Tears off the top part of his contract) Uh… “The party of the third part shall be known in this contract -“

(The Writer grimace and tears off another part of the contract.)

(Narrator): Now, is my word worth anything to you about the next few paragraphs?

(The Writer shakes his head “no.”)

(Narrator): Well, then, let’s – (Tears off more of his contract.)

(The Writer tears off most of his contract.)

(Narrator): Not much left, is there? You must have really been on a tear last night! Is what’s left good enough for you?

(The Writer nods, and then hits the slowly reawakening Host with the mallet again.)

(Narrator): Ok, then. Why don’t you sign it?

(The Writer nods, and then signs it “I. Watt.”)

(Narrator): That’s fine. Now, I’ve got a new Host! (Starts to pocket the contract)

(The Writer notices the last paragraph, and points to it to show the Narrator.)

(Narrator): What? That? That says “If any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.” That’s in every contract! That’s what’s known as the sanity clause!

(The Writer looks at him with a quizzical look on his face.)

(Narrator): Now look, you. I made this contract with you, not him (Pointing to the unconscious Host). You better not be trying to tell me that there’s no Sanity Claus.

(The Writer shakes his head “no” vigorously, and pulls a white beard and a red Santa suit out of his overcoat and puts them on. He pulls a bell out of his coat, and starts to walk around the stage ringing it.)

(Narrator): (Tears up the rest of the contract) Well, there goes that. Either he’s insane, or I am. Either way, that contract is worthless.

(The Host wakes up and holds his head.)

(Host): Ouch. What hit me?

(Narrator): Haven’t you been hitting the eggnog a little early this year?

(Host): (Still holding his head.) No, who do you think I am, Oliver Wendell Douglas?

(Narrator): (Gives the Host a side-eye.) Well, we’ll let that one pass. Anyway, getting back to the story, on the day of the opera opening, Gottlieb and Lassparri gets Driftwood and Rosa fired from the opera company. All the men decide to try and help get Rosa back her job, but when Gottlieb decides to turn them in to the police, they try to lock him up in a closet and disrupt the opera.

(Author): (Coming back onstage) Well, the food order is all taken care of — (Spies the Host and Writer) YOU.

(The Host and the Writer both duck back in the trunk. The Author hurriedly comes over to the trunk, and opens it up, only to find a squad of heavily bearded solders who start marching out as a backdrop of a war-torn countryside comes down. The Narrator’s outfit changes into a general’s uniform.)

(Author): Soldiers?!?! Where did these men come from?!?

(Narrator): From Freedonia, where else? This is what happens when you call their leader, Rufus T. Firefly an “upstart!”

(Author): Since when did I call Firefly an upstart? I don’t even know the man!

(Narrator): There! You did it again! All right men!

(The soldiers all line up at the back of the stage, while the Author stands on the prosceunium, shaking quite visibly.)

(Narrator): Ready!

(The soldiers raise their rifles.)

(Narrator): Aim!

(The soldiers take aim at the Narrator.)

(Narrator): Fire!

(The backdrop of the war-torn countryside rises back up, and the soldiers disappear before they can fire a shot. The Narrator’s costume reverts back to the tuxedo.)

(Narrator): First, the three men try to delay the opera by messing with the sheet music for the orchestra.

(Author): Wait a minute! Did I get shot? What happened to all the soldiers?

(Narrator): What soldiers?

(Author): The ones that you were ordering to shoot me!

(Narrator): (Winks at audience) I have no idea what you’re talking about. Now, let me get back to the story, please.

(Author): (Still visibly shaken) Sure.

(Narrator): Once the orchestra get themselves back in order, the opera starts. So, Fiorello and Tomasso get in costume to mess around onstage, while Driftwood causes trouble in the audience.

(A new backdrop of a horse race at the Ascot Racecourse drops down, and the Narrator disappears. The Author finds himself in the center of a racetrack.)

(Author): Now what?

(The sound of thundering horses’ hooves starts to shake the ground.)

(?): Come on. Come on, Dover, come on. Come on Dover, come on.

(The sound of thundering horses’ hooves starts to increase in volume. We see a lady in a beautiful floral dress behind a fence, but her face is hidden by her hat. She raises up her head so that her face is seen, and it is revealed to be the Narrator, still looking like Groucho Marx except for the dress.)

(Narrator): (To audience) I’ll bet you didn’t expect to see me here!

(The horses come rushing by the Author, narrowly missing him.)

(Author): (frozen in terror) Yikes!

(Narrator): Come on Dover! Move your bloomin’ –

(The Ascot Racecourse backdrop rises back up, and the Narrator’s costume reverts to the tuxedo. The Author falls over in a faint.)

(Narrator): All right, boys, time to take him away!

(The Host and Writer both come walking out in medical attendants’ uniforms with a stretcher between them. They toss the Author on, and walk off.)

(Narrator): That’ll take care of him for a bit. As I was saying, the opera is a disaster with the boys’ antics, until finally, they kidnap Lassparri, forcing Gottlieb to put on Ricardo and Rosa. But will the audience accept them? And will Ricardo, Tomasso and Fiorello be able to avoid deportation?

(The Host and Writer both come back on in their normal outfits. And by “normal,” I mean their Marx Brothers costumes. The Host comes out to the Narrator, while the Writer leans against the wall.)

(Host): Finally got through the story, eh boss?

(Narrator): Yes, indeed. After Duck Soup, the fourth Marx Brother, Zeppo, retired to become an agent. As a result of Duck Soup not going over so well, the remaining Marxes were worried about how well audiences would respond to them. At Thalberg’s suggestion, they took their material for A Night At The Opera on the road, testing it out on audiences on the stage. When stuff didn’t work, they re-tooled it, until they got the laughs they were aiming for, and then they inserted that material into the film.

(Host): And it worked, right?

(Narrator): Yes, indeed. Audiences took to it, making the film one of the Marx Brothers’ biggest hits. Thalberg planned out their next film, A Day At The Races (and they were under contract for another film), but Thalberg died during production of A Day At The Races, resulting in the Brothers’ film career going downhill as they were stuck with a studio that didn’t know or care about what to do with them.

Personally, I’ve seen this movie many a time over the years. I will admit, I do prefer the anarchy of their earlier Paramount film, but this one still has the Marx charm. Obviously, there’s the stateroom scene, with a whole bunch of people getting crowded into a small room (and the preceding “Hardboiled Eggs” routine right before it). There’s the Marxes messing with the police sergeant at the hotel room, as they move the furniture from one room to another, confusing him completely. And the contract signing/tearing. Simply put, the Marx Brothers have some of their best material here. The romantic aspect of the plot may not be the greatest, but it’s certainly better than the stuff that they were saddled with after Thalberg’s death. A good part of that is actor and singer Allan Jones, who manages to do all right (even if he is far from the zaniness of the Brothers), with the song “Alone” being what I consider to be this film’s standout musical moment. This movie is considered a great comedy for good reason, and it’s one that I certainly have no hesitation about recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, utilizing a 4k Scan of the best surviving preservation elements. While they have scoured the world over to try to find an uncut version of the film, they’ve had no luck so far. It’s been rumored that a print containing some (but not all) of the removed bits was found in Hungary, but apparently it hasn’t been verified or something, as the Warner Archive Blu-ray still has the same cut version that everyone has been seeing. But, in its defense, the picture has been cleaned up of all dirt and debris, and certainly looks better (even with its still obvious edits) than it has in a long time, which still leaves me wanting to recommend the release (especially for those who want more of the Warner-owned films from MGM and RKO)!

(Author): (Coming back onstage) Finally, I caught up with you two! Oh, what I’m going to do to you two!

(The Author grabs the Host from center stage, and walks over to the Writer, who is still leaning against the wall.)

(Author): And just what do you think YOU’RE doing? Holding up the building?

(The Writer nods enthusiastically.)

(Author): Well, you’re coming with me!

(Host): Be careful! Don’t forget, Harpo was holding up a building in A Night In Casablanca!

(Author): Don’t give me that! The building won’t come crashing down if I remove him!

(Upon pulling the Writer away from the wall, the building, or at least the part behind the curtain, does indeed start to cave in on the Author, while the Host and Writer safely join the Narrator, who is standing on the proscenium.)

(Author): (Weakly from beneath the rubble) Ow.

(Host): (Laughing along with the Writer) I TOLD you not to remove him!

(Narrator): Well, that’ll be all for now, folks! We’ll be back again when we get the theatre repaired (or get rid of the nut who tore it down, whichever happens first)!

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Animal Crackers (1930) – Groucho Marx – At The Circus (1939)

Animal Crackers (1930) – Harpo Marx – At The Circus (1939)

Animal Crackers (1930) – Chico Marx – At The Circus (1939)

Animal Crackers (1930) – The Marx Brothers – At The Circus (1939)

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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)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… A Night In Casablanca (1946)

I’m long overdue for some Marx brothers zaniness, so today, we’re here for their 1946 comedy A Night In Casablanca! But first, we’ve got a theatrical short to start things off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Cat That Hated People (1948)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)

A black cat expresses his dislike for humans for the way he has been treated, and takes a rocket to the moon. This was another very fun cartoon. Seeing what the cat goes through, it’s easy to understand why he hates people. Yet, as they say, “Be careful what you wish for!” What he finds on the moon is more than he bargained for, and the sheer lunacy is a lot of fun! I enjoyed it, from the cat himself (voiced by Paul Frees, doing an imitation of Jimmy Durante, if I’m correct), to all of the various gags throughout, and I know it’s one I want to revisit now and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Three managers of the Hotel Casablanca have been murdered recently, and Governor Galloux (Lewis Russell) and his prefect of police, Captain Brizzard (Dan Seymour) have no idea why! They refuse to listen to Lieutenant Pierre Delbar (Charles Drake), who claims that, during the war, he had been forced by the Germans to fly Nazi loot out of France, but he crashed his plane intentionally in Casablanca (although all the treasure disappeared while he was detained). He believes that a group of Nazis are trying to take over the hotel, to get the treasure out of there, but nobody is listening to him, except his girlfriend Annette (Lois Collier). The Governor hopes to offer the position of manager to Count Max Pfferman (Sig Ruman), but he is detained when his toupee disappears. You see, he is a Nazi, by the name of Heinrich Stubel, famous for a scar on his head (but which is hidden by the toupee). Since he doesn’t show up to accept the position (like he had wanted to), the governor decides to offer the position to Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx), the manager of a hotel in the desert (where, supposedly, he may not have heard about the spate of murdered Hotel Casablanca managers). Max tries to find ways to kill Kornblow, including getting his nightclub singer girlfriend Beatrice Reiner (Lisette Verea) to flirt with Kornblow, but his attempts fail, especially with his valet Rusty (Harpo Marx) and Yellow Camel Company owner Corbaccio (Chico Marx) trying to help Kornblow. Max finally gets his chance when Rusty and Corbaccio break the bank playing roulette at the hotel, and accuses Kornblow of working with them to do so. Max is given the manager’s job, and Kornblow, Rusty, Corbaccio and Annette are arrested. When they learn that Rusty had discovered the treasure, they break out of jail, and help Pierre (who had been arrested for deportation) to go after the former Nazis. But, can they stop them before the Nazis escape to South America?

In the early 1940s, the Marx brothers announced their retirement, to go into effect after their 1941 film The Big Store. At the time, they had grown tired of making movies, which was not helped by losing producer Irving Thalberg during production of A Day At The Races, and being stuck with producers who didn’t know (or care) what to do with the Marxes. However, after being retired a few years, they came back to do A Night In Casablanca as an independent film (at least partly because of Chico’s troubles with compulsive gambling). The film was originally intended as more of a parody of the classic Casablanca. Warner Brothers apparently heard about it, and started looking into it from a legal standpoint (whether anything more than that happened on their end seems to be up for debate, depending on your sources). What is known is that Groucho famously wrote a public series of letters to them, humorously picking on them for use of “Brothers” in their studio name, since the Marxes had been doing so on stage as “Brothers” for a longer period of time (or something to that effect). Nothing further happened from Warner Brothers, and the movie ended up changing the story to be more of a spoof of wartime melodramas.

Like most of the Marx brothers movies, I’ve been watching this one for a number of years. I personally think this one is more middle of the road for them, not as good as their earliest films, but definitely better than the rest of their post-A Day At The Races output. Their comedy isn’t necessarily anything new at this point (with them essentially recycling a few comedy bits, including Harpo and Chico’s “Charades” routine used previously in A Day At The Races), but their comic timing is still there, and allows for the jokes to come off well. Groucho still has his one-liners, Chico still plays his “filthy piano,” and Harpo plays his harp. I know I still laugh at Groucho as he tries to spend time with Lisette Verea’s Beatrice, only to have to keep switching rooms (and carry the champagne, flowers, and records everywhere). I also enjoy their antics as they try to keep the Nazis from getting all the trunks packed, not to mention Harpo’s sword fight with the Nazi waiter.

Now, as I hinted at, this film certainly does have its issues. Even with the Marxes a bit more in control, this film still has the unnecessary romance between Charles Drake’s Pierre and Lois Collier’s Annette (not to mention the fact that, although the characters are supposed to be French, neither of them are anywhere close to actually playing that). But, one of my biggest problems with this film is its score, by Werner Janssen. Its decent for most of the movie, but there are times it just feels too serious for some of the action going on onscreen (including the scene I mentioned earlier with the Marxes trying to stop the Nazis when packing the trunks and the film’s ending). Still, these are minor quibbles for what was the last good Marx brothers film, and they’re not enough to stop me from watching it (or recommending it either)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix. The new transfer for this release looks wonderful, with the picture generally cleaned up to remove dirt and specks and the like. The detail is wonderful, and I would say it’s the best way to enjoy the movie. Throw in an audio excerpt of a stage performance from 1945 (where they were trying out some of their material for the movie to see how well it would work), some radio commercials promoting the film and an image gallery that contains stills, lobby cards, etc., and this is a release that I find to be well worth having!

Film Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

At The Circus (1939) – Groucho Marx

At The Circus (1939) – Harpo Marx

At The Circus (1939) – Chico Marx

At The Circus (1939) – The Marx Brothers

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… At The Circus (1939)

Personally, I’ve always found that one of the best places to find a group of clowns would be At The Circus, and what better group of clowns to do it than the three Marx brothers, Groucho, Chico and Harpo?

Circus owner Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker) is finally able to pay back his debt to John Carter (James Burke). However, Mr. Carter wants the circus itself, and so gets some of his allies to rob Jeff. Jeff’s buddy Antonio (Chico Marx) figured on trouble and brought in lawyer J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx). Along with Antonio’s buddy Punchy (Harpo Marx), they try to find the money. When they fail, Loophole goes to Newport to find Jeff’s aunt, Mrs. Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont), and, behind her back, arranges for Jeff to bring the circus to her big society party.

Personally, I do think that the Marx brothers’ best movies were behind them at this stage. It doesn’t help that the studio they were under contract to, MGM, didn’t really know how to handle them (or really care), as their main benefactor in coming over to MGM was Irving Thalberg, and he had passed away partway through filming A Day At The Races. Without him, the Marx brothers were being poorly handled, which apparently was a problem the studio had with comedians (case in point, silent film comedian Buster Keaton had been reduced to coming up with gags for different movies, including being assigned to this one, although his ideas didn’t make it into the movie, since the Marx brothers had a different style of comedy). I do think this movie was better than some of the later Marx brothers movies, with the main exception of Go West (but I’ll get into that one for another time). The music here isn’t particularly memorable, outside of Groucho’s rendition of “Lydia The Tattooed Lady” (and the less than politically correct song “Swingali” doesn’t help matters, either). Not to mention some of the various circus stunts seem obviously faked when some of the leads are supposed to be doing them.

As I said, though, this movie does have some bright spots.  Personally, I think most of them belong to Groucho and some of his exchanges with Chico.  Whether it be when he tries to get on the circus train but Chico won’t let him without a badge (even though he sent for him) or when Groucho is trying to interrogate some of the circus performers and Chico bluntly accuses them. I think Chico and Harpo have a few good moments together, mostly with the two of them trying to “re-destruct” the crime or Harpo trying to point out a clue that Chico was obviously missing. Like I said before, I do think this was one of the weaker Marx brothers movies, but I don’t think that it had quite fallen far enough for me to not recommend it. So, if you are in the mood for a decent circus movie, give this one a try!

This movie is available as part of a Marx Brothers double-feature with Room Service on DVD from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 6/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

A Night At The Opera (1935) – Groucho Marx – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

A Night At The Opera (1935) – Harpo Marx – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

A Night At The Opera (1935) – Chico Marx – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

Having Wonderful Time (1938) – Eve Arden – My Dream Is Yours (1949)

A Night At The Opera (1935) – The Marx Brothers – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!