Animal Crackers, starring the Marx Brothers

Review of Animal Crackers, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

Animal Crackers - The Marx Brothers - Groucho - Harpo - Chico - Zeppo - Margaret DumontBuy from Amazon.com Released in 1930, Animal Crackers is the Marx Brothers‘ second film.  It’s full of the manic energy for which Groucho MarxChico, and Harpo are known. In addition, Zeppo also excels in this film, acting as the secretary for Groucho, aka. Captain Spaulding, famous African explorer. One of the film’s songs, Hooray for Captain Spaulding, became Groucho’s trademark.

In a nutshell, the Marx Brothers become involved in a high society party, where a theft occurs.  Leaving them embroiled in finding the crook and clearing their names.  Highlights of the film include:

  • Groucho relating his African adventure of shooting an elephant in his pajamas
  • a card game between Harpo, Chico, and Margaret Dumont
  • the dictation of a letter between Groucho and Zeppo.

Since it’s chock-full of their famous verbal humor, be sure to read funny movie quotes from Animal Crackers.

This movie is available as part of The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection.

Editorial Review of the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers (courtesy of Amazon.com)

Animal Crackers, Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, 1930
Animal Crackers, Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, 1930

This second Marx Brothers classic has Groucho playing Captain Spaulding (an inside joke pertaining to a renowned Hollywood drug pusher), whose song Hooray for Captain Spaulding became his signature anthem. Despite its staginess, it has some hilarious gags as the boys try to solve the mystery of a stolen painting among the high-society crowd. Some of the highlights include Groucho’s African lecture about shooting an elephant in his pajamas, and a wacky card game between Harpo, Chico, and the always-gullible Margaret Dumont. The musical interludes here don’t seem as awkward as in later films. It’s really quite charming watching Chico and Harpo show off their graceful talents. Bill Desowitz

Marx Bros Animal Crackers Movie Poster

Description of The Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers (courtesy of Amazon.com)

In this Marx Brothers comedy often regarded as their most quoted film for its witty and unforgettable dialogue Groucho stars as Captain Spaulding, a famed African explorer who is being honored at a high society party at the estate of Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont). Mayhem and chaos ensue after a valuable painting disappears and Spaulding, along with the Professor (Harpo), Signore Emanuel Ravelli (Chico) and Horatio (Zeppo) help search for it. Filled with comedy sketches and musical numbers, this classic comedy earned a place on AFIs 100 Years100 Movie Quotes list.

Animal Crackers, 1930, Entertaining Party Guests
Animal Crackers, 1930, Entertaining Party Guests

Trivia about the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers:

  • Several of Groucho’s lines were cut on demand of the Hays office.  Including “I think I’ll try to make her” from the song Hooray for Captain Spaulding
  • The film was re-released to theaters prior to television. Groucho attended the premiere.
  • During a rehearsal, a test was made for a color movie process called Multicolor (a predecessor of Cinecolor) and the result was the only known footage of the Marx Brothers in color! The clip is silent and lasts only 15 seconds.
  • Chico Marx plays his trademark song Sugar in the Morning for the first time in this film.
  • After this film, the Brothers always thought of Margaret Dumont as Mrs. Rittenhouse.
  • In 1957, Paramount forgot to renew the soundtrack rights which reverted back to the authors of the play (the studio did renew the picture rights, though). As a result, the film could not legally be seen in the USA until 1974, when Universal, which had since purchased Paramount’s film library, was persuaded by fan requests to re-release it.

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