Movie reviews

Harpo, Groucho and Chico develop the photograph that reveals the villain's identity in The Big Store

The Big Store

The Big Store (1941) starring the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Chico, Harpo – Margaret Dumont, Tony Martin

In the department store, Harpo acts as a snake charmer while Groucho and the crowd looks on in The Big Store
In the department store, Harpo acts as a snake charmer while Groucho and the crowd looks on in The Big Store

In  The Big Store — which was intended to be the final Marx Brothers movie, but thankfully wasn’t — the basic plot has a musical composer (Tony Martin) inherits half interest in a large department store (the “big store” of the title) — and is under a death threat from unscrupulous businessmen. His friend and piano instructor, Ravelli (Chico Marx) has the “famous” lawyer,  Wolf J. Flywheel (Groucho Marx) and his brother Wacky (Harpo Marx) to help protect him. (more…)

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A Girl in Every Port, starring Groucho Marx, Marie Windsor, William Bendix

A Girl in Every Port

A Girl in Every Port (1952) starring Groucho Marx, William Bendix, Marie Wilson

Editorial review of A Girl in Every Port, courtesy of Amazon.com

A Girl in Every Port, starring Groucho Marx, Marie Windsor, William Bendix

Groucho Marx’s last leading role sees him deploying all his patented patter and double-talk as a Navy lifer out to save a pal from his “inherited” racehorse. Navy seaman Benny Linn (Marx) is flabbergasted when his pal, Navy seaman Tim Dunnovan (William Bendix), squanders his inheritance on Little Erin, a horse he’s never seen. Talking their put-upon superior into granting them five days leave in order to unswindle Dunnovan, Benny sets to shore with purpose and chicanery in mind. Tracking down the horse’s trainer (Gene Lockhart), the salts discover their seemingly lame horse has a secret twin – Little Shamrock – owned by lovely carhop Jane Sweet (Marie Wilson). In short order, we have fake Southern gentlemen, switched and double-switched equines, angry gangsters, stumbling saboteurs and one henpecked businessman (Don DeFore), who may just be Jane’s true love. In order to save the day, it’s time for Groucho to ride! (more…)

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Double Dynamite, starring Groucho Marx, Jane Russell, Frank Sinatra

Double Dynamite

Double Dynamite (1951) starring Groucho Marx, Jane Russell, Frank Sinatra

Double Dynamite, starring Groucho Marx, Jane Russell, Frank SinatraBuy from Amazon.com Double Dynamite is a romantic comedy, with poor bank clerk Johnny Dalton (Frank Sinatra) wants to marry his true love, and fellow bank teller, Mildred Goodhug (Jane Russell) — but can’t afford it. His friend, Emil (Groucho Marx) is a waiter who nearly breaks them up and sends her into the arms of a co-worker — spoiled rich son of the bank owner. Things change, however, when Johnny rescues a man from a beating … (more…)

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Copacabana (1947) starring Groucho Marx, Carmen Miranda

Copacabana

Copacabana (1947) starring Groucho Marx, Carmen Miranda

Synopsis for Copacabana

Copacabana (1947) starring Groucho Marx, Carmen MirandaA zany agent books a Brazilian bombshell again, as a French singer, in the same club on the same night.

Editorial review of Copacabana courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com Happily, Groucho is still Groucho in his first post-Marx Brothers movie, and that’s enough to keep this showbiz farce going. The rather labored plot has Groucho getting his longtime fiancée, Carmen Miranda, booked at Manhattans glamorous Copacabana club, but as two different performers: a Brazilian bombshell (the usual Carmen Miranda act, without the pineapple on the head) and a veiled French chanteuse called Mademoiselle Fifi.

Some of the nightclub stuff has a retro appeal, and the appearance of real-life showbiz columnists (like Earl Wilson) brings a whiff of Sweet Smell of Success. But mostly there’s Groucho, still flinging one-liners in a zone of his own. Even when the material isn’t first-rate, his delivery never wavers from the withering skepticism of the Marx brothers early days. The old greasepaint mustache comes out for one typically Marxist number, with the remainder of the songs handled by Miranda and wet-eyed crooner Andy Russell. Robert Horton

Movie quotes from Copacabana

Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): This is an outrage! You’ll hear from my lawyer! As soon as he gets a telephone!

Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): [handing Carmen’s mink stole to a hat-check girl] Take good care of this, and at ten o’clock give it a saucer of milk.

Carmen Novarro (Carmen Miranda): Why are you always chasing women?
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): I’ll tell you as soon as I catch one.

Carmen Novarro (Carmen Miranda): [trying to sneak into their hotel] Why don’t we get married?
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Let’s not rush into marriage; we can’t even get into the hotel.

Carmen Novarro (Carmen Miranda): I don’t think you want to marry me.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): How can you say that? We’ve been engaged for almost ten years!

Abe Green Editor of Variety: Now listen, Deveraux. You and I both know this check is no good.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Oh? I thought only I knew it.

Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Listen, babe.
Specialty: Yes?
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): How’d you like to see your name in lights?
Specialty: Why, are you an electrician?
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): No, but I’ve got some good connections.

Steve Hunt: Do I know you?
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Do you know me? Lionel Q. Deveraux, your old roommate at Yale?
Steve Hunt: I never went to Yale.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Remember those good old days at Erasmus High?
Steve Hunt: I never went to Erasmus High.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): At least you do remember when we graduated from PS 27?
Steve Hunt: No.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Say, for a man with no education, you’ve done alright.

Liggett, an Agent: Ive got so many clients, they get in my hair!
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): This guy must handle a flea circus.

Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): You ought to go and get cured by Penicillin.
Singer Andy Russell: Well, it is good for my throat.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): So is a razor!

Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): How much are the cigars?
Cigarette Girl: They’re a dollar.
Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): Oh, I’m just browsing don’t you have any nickel cigars?
Cigarette Girl: Yes, but they’re forty cents.

Lionel Q. Deveraux (Groucho Marx): I’ve got an explanation for this, but I don’t even believe it myself.

Songs performed in Copacabana

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Love Happy starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo), Vera-Ellen and Marilyn Monroe

Love Happy

 Love Happy  starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo), Vera-Ellen and Marilyn Monroe

Synopsis of Love Happy

 Love Happy starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo), Vera-Ellen and Marilyn MonroeBuy from Amazon.com Private-Eye Sam Grunion is reminiscing via flashbacks back to his famous case involving the Romanoff diamonds.   It begins with Harpo taking food from the rich for the poverty-stricken, starving troupe in rehearsal for a Broadway play. On one of his daily raids picks up a can of sardines where the Romanoff diamonds have been hidden. But only Madame Egelich and her two bodyguards know this, and she agrees to back the play, so they can be near the can of sardines and recover the diamonds. But Harpo and Faustino discover them first and they are chased all over NYC’s skyline by the bodyguards. Sam Grunion enters the case and quickly becomes enamored of Madame Egelich, and anything else wearing skirts.

Review of Love Happy

 Love Happy, the final Marx Brothers film was originally written (by Harpo Marx himself) as a vehicle for Harpo, who had been wanting to pursue a solo film career.   However, Chico was again in financial distress, and Harpo helped him by adding him to the film.   Groucho had no interest in making the film, however, Harpo’s financial backers were unwilling to back a film with only two of the three Marx Brothers.  So Groucho joined the film – €under his conditions.   This is why Groucho spends most of the film narrating, and why much of the humor is centered around Harpo.   The ending is very funny, reminiscent of Harpo’s physical hijinks in classic Marx Brothers films like  A Night at the Opera.   Also, be forewarned – €although Marilyn Monroe features prominently on the cover of the DVD, she’s only in the movie for a short period of time. (more…)

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Monkey Business, starring the Marx Brothers

Monkey Business, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd

Monkey Business, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Thelma ToddBuy from Amazon.com In Monkey BusinessGrouchoHarpoChico and Zeppo are four stowaways on board ship, destined for the United States of America. After being discovered hiding in barrels (and singing Sweet Adeline), they are pursued by the ship’s crew, to hilarious effect. Zeppo and Groucho wind up working as bodyguards for one gangster on board, while Chico and Harpo do the same for a rival gangster. After docking, the four borrow a passport and impersonate its’ owner, Maurice Chevalier (who doesn’t appear in the film) to gain entrance to the country, by singing one of Chevalier’s songs to prove that each of them, including the silent Harpo, is Mr. Chevalier. (more…)

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Duck Soup, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

Duck Soup

DVD Review of Duck Soup, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

Overview of Duck Soup, starring Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo

Duck Soup, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont Buy from Amazon.com When asked to explain the movie title, Groucho said, “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup for the rest of your life.” Start with excellent production and direction. Add the Marx brothers (Groucho,  Chico,  Harpo and the long-suffering  Zeppo), add the ultimate straight person (Margaret Dumont), stir well and you’ll be serving  Duck Soup. (more…)

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Review of The Cocoanuts, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

The Cocoanuts, starring the Marx Brothers

Review of The Cocoanuts, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

Buy from Amazon.com The Cocoanuts was the first movie filmed by the Marx Brothers, and remains one of their funniest. It features the Marx Brothers in the roles that they soon made famous – €  Groucho, with the greasepaint mustache, master of the fast wisecrack;  Chico, the vaguely-Italian pianist who constantly looking to con someone;  Harpo, who never speaks, but is the master of outrageous comedy and pantomime; and Zeppo, the handsome straight man.

Review of The Cocoanuts, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret DumontMargaret Dumont, Groucho’s perennial foil, appears in this first film as well. There is a plot to the movie, dealing with Groucho trying to flim-flam everyone possible in a land swindle.  But that’s frankly of secondary concern to the antics of the Marx Brothers. (more…)

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Room Service (1938) starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx), Lucille Ball, Ann Miller

Room Service, starring the Marx Brothers

Room Service (1938) starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx), Lucille Ball, Ann Miller

I’ve long heard negative things about  Room Service starring the Marx Brothers  – Groucho, Chico, and Harpo.   However, after viewing the movie for myself, I don’t think that they’re deserved.   Granted, it’s not of the same quality as  Duck Soup, but it’s still very funny in its’ own right.   That’s not to say that there aren’t negative things to say.  The pace seems slow compared to typical Marx Brothers fare.  The movie starts slowly.   On the other hand, the ending of the movie is the normal zaniness that we’ve  come to expect, and it plays well. (more…)

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At the Circus starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo)

At the Circus, starring the Marx Brothers

At the Circus (1939) starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo), Margaret Dumont, Eve Arden

Buy from Amazon.com At the Circus is perhaps the Marx Brothers‘ most underrated comedy.   It’s quite funny, with a very zany ending, complete with Harpo’s athletic working on the high wires, reminiscent of the ending of A Night at the Opera. The plot involves the obligatory love interest, a wealthy young man who forsakes the fortune of his rich aunt (played by Groucho’s perpetual foil,  Margaret Dumont) to run the circus that his girlfriend performs in.

At the Circus starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo)But when the evil owner of the circus steals the money needed to pay off the mortgage, it falls upon the strongman’s assistant  Punchy (Harpo Marx), circus hand  Antonio Pirelli (Chico Marx)  and Antonio’s shyster lawyer friend,  J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx).   With an assist from a gorilla named Gibraltar, one of Groucho’s funniest co-stars. (more…)

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