Friday, August 24, 2007

A Day at the Blog

Ok, so my boss is on vacation this week, leaving me alone in the office. This has the effect of making my work day rather boring, and as such, I haven't posted in a few days. That much time to yourself has a tendency to freeze your mind. But not to worry! I actually did something productive! I got out my Marx Brothers movies and watched every one I hadn't seen (and a couple I had). So what better way to celebrate than to go through and give my thoughts on them one by one. Now, I didn't watch The Cocoanuts or Animal Crackers this week, and it's been some time since I have, so my thoughts for those will be short and a little hazy. Anyway, here I go:

The Cocoanuts: Obviously it's very raw. It's the first Marx foray into film, and from what I understand, it's nearly identical to their Broadway hit. I like this movie and it makes me wish I could have seen the brothers preform on stage in their early years- I can only imagine how crazy and chaotic they must have let their shows get. Must have been fun.

Animal Crackers: More great fun. The opening Captain Spaulding number is one of my favorites.

Monkey Business: I blogged about this one a little while ago. It drags a bit in parts, but overall the comedy is solid. I love the Chevalier bit, and Zeppo really seems at the top of his game in this one.

Horse Feathers: The college stuff is fantastic, some of the best. Quincy Wagstaff's song and introduction are up there with Animal Crackers. Unfortunately, the football stuff falls WAY flat, dragging down the last half of the movie. Still pretty good.

Duck Soup: Still my favorite Marx Brothers movie. Groucho during the war scenes is something I could watch (and have watched) over and over. It's short, sweet, and has a real anti-authority message that most of the movies just hint at. The jokes are funny, the songs are wacky (so they actually fit in) and there's no dumb love story tacked on. It's pure Marx.

A Night at the Opera: Another classic. The comedy set pieces (the state room, the opera itself) absolutely kill. Possibly their funniest stuff. Unfortunately, to me, the musical numbers here seem to go on forever. "Cosi Cosa" stands out as one of the biggest wastes of time in a great movie, and the Chico playing piano and Harpo playing harp bits are uninspired in this one. That's the only thing keeping this one from joining Duck Soup at the very top.

A Day at the Races: There's a lot to like here. Groucho as a doctor (a horse doctor treating humans) is great. Even the horse races at the end seem like they belong. I laughed a lot during this one. Unfortunately, the "Negro Spiritual" song made Especially when the brothers try to hide in the crowd by painting their faces. (Though Harpo only doing half of his face is still pretty funny).

Room Service: It all falls apart for me here. This was actually a stage play that was adapted for the Marx Brothers and it wasn't adapted well. The real laughs are few and far between here. The young romantic male (formerly the Zeppo role) is just awful here. It loses even more points for criminally wasting a young Lucille Ball by not giving her anything funny to do. I was really really disappointed by this one.

At the Circus: For the most part, another miss. Though I love "Lydia the Tattooed Lady," the people in this one would just not stop singing sappy love songs. There's some goodness here, but I watched this right after Room Service, and my patience was starting to wear a little thin. Still, the bits in the midget's house were good, and Groucho's scene walking on the ceiling was pretty enjoyable.

Go West: And my faith was restored! I was ready to give up on the later films when I came to Go West. They seem to have regained a lot of their comic form in this film. It wasn't brilliant, but I laughed an awful lot. I'd never heard much talk about this movie so it came as a surprise to me. Not bad at all!

The Big Store: Didn't make me laugh as much as Go West, but still a solid step above At the Circus. Nice to see Groucho and Harpo working together, and the detective agency scenes with Margaret Dumont were classic. The chase at the end didn't work perfectly for me, but there were some nice set pieces throughout. This also features what is easily my favorite Chico piano scene AND my favorite Harpo harp scene. So that's a big plus.

A Night in Casablanca: Another solid effort, much like Go West and The Big Store. I like that these last few movies took the Marx Brothers and put them in more distinct, "Hollywood" settings. It gives them each a nice character. Nothing terribly "classic" in this one, but having Nazis as villains is always a good thing.

So there you go. My thoughts on all of the Marx Brothers movies (except Love Happy, which I don't own and am not sure most people count it anyway). My not be earth-shattering, but it's what's been on my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for completing the set. I'm sorry you didn't like Big Store more. I love that one. You can do without Love Happy. The only thing it has going for it is Marylin Monroe in her screen debut, chosen by Groucho. That's right Groucho Marx gave Marylin Monroe her break in film. Then there's the History of Mankind, which features all of the Marxes, though never together. What?