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I’ve been waiting to review this. It’s my birthday so I’ve saved my favorite performers until today.

Forgive me if I go on and on about them.

This one has an interesting story behind it.

After the box office failure of Duck Soup, which is now considered genius and is on the list of the greatest comedy movies of all time along with A Night at the Opera, the Marx brothers thought their career was over.

Luckily, Chico with his charming personality and compulsive gambling met Irving Thalberg in a card game. Thalberg loved Chico and began talking to him about what they needed to do differently in their movies and how they needed an actual storyline instead of one funny scene after another.

Chico helped get them signed to MGM since their contract with Paramount was over and they started production on A Night at the Opera. Groucho was worried about the comedic scenes, telling Thalberg that the reason it was so much easier to shoot their earlier films, The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, was because the material was tried out on stage.

That’s when Thalberg got the idea to take scenes from the movies and have the brothers travel around America trying them on the audiences. Groucho was surprised that Thalberg would go that far just for a movie but they just that.

One interesting story is that one of the most famous scenes of all time that’s parodied over and over again in modern entertainment is the cabin scene where many people are piled into a small room.

It didn’t work well on stage because you couldn’t get an idea of just how small the room was on stage so they almost cut it but Thalberg said no.

The story begins with Groucho doing his routine with the amazing Margaret Dumont and we find out that his name in the movie is Otis B. Driftwood, that he works for the opera company and she’s paying him money to put her into society in America. She is introduced to Gottlieb who is one of the villains in the movie who is Groucho’s boss.

Gottlieb convinces Dumont’s character to pay an opera singer name Lassparri $1,000 per performance which will make her a patron of the opera house and get her into society. She agrees, and than we are taken to the opera house where we see Harpo being mistreated by Lassparri. Harpo is called Tomasso in this film and is soon consoled by the heroine Rosa, Kitty Carlisle.

She is a favorite of Lassparri but she’s in love with Ricardo (Alan Jones) who has a better voice than Lassparri but is in not well known. Ricardo is best friends with Chico who plays a man Fiorello.

Lassparri gets signed by the opera company and gets ready to leave for America but he convinces Gottlieb to make Rosa his leading lady so they can go together.

Ricardo, Fiorello, and Tomasso have to find a way on the ship to reunite the lovers.

The funny scenes include, anything with Groucho in it, the contract scene, Groucho ordering  food, the cabin scene, the aviators scene, and the hotel scene among others. I personally like when Harpo, Chico, and Alan Jones’ characters are locked in the detention cabin and Harpo is driving them crazy.

The music is wonderful to. Alan Jones sings “Cosi Cosa” which was a hit and a big production like MGM always did. He had another hit with “Alone” which is my favorite song at the moment.  Chico plays the piano like no one I’ve ever seen and Harpo plays his harp like an angel.

It was made in 1935 and it was directed by Sam Wood, who legend has it that at one point was so frustrated with the Marx Brothers antics he said, “I guess you can’t make an actor out of clay” which caused Groucho to say “Nor a director out of Wood.”

I rate it five stars. Seriously, I just love them.

 

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