Horse Feathers (1932) starring the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo
First, imagine the Marx Brothers attending college. Now, imagine Groucho as the president of the college, Zeppo as his son, and Harpo and Chico as the newest additions to the college football team. Recruited by mistake, of course. Now, imagine the beautiful Thelma Todd, trying to weasel the team’s football signals from Zeppo and Groucho in her well-known vampish way. And now, imagine the big football game, with the Marx Brothers on the field, pulling out all the stops to defeat the other side. What do you get for all your imaginings? Horse Feathers, of course.
Classic moments in Horse Feathers include:
- Groucho telling Harpo that he can’t burn the candle at both ends. Only to have Harpo pull a candle out of a pocket, lit at both ends.
- Harpo and Chico trying to kidnap the two best players from the other team, only to be kidnapped themselves.
- Groucho trying to teach a biology class, despite Harpo and Chico’s distractions, only to end in a three-way peashooter fight.
- Harpo entering the football field riding a chariot, and throwing banana peels in front of the other players.
- A classic exchange between Groucho and Chico at the door of a speakeasy.
Horse Feathers is available as part of the DVD set The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection.
Editorial Review of Horse Feathers (courtesy of Amazon.com)
Imagine Groucho as the president of a college and Harpo and Chico as football players. It doesn’t get much wackier than this. Horse feathers, indeed. Groucho is hilarious to watch as a hip professor. He’s at his most rebellious singing “Whatever it is, I’m against it“. Thelma Todd does some of her best vamping to help fix the big football game, which Harpo and Chico are supposed to throw. Naturally, the brothers have other ideas. For sheer laughter, this has to rate almost as high as Duck Soup, with the memorable speakeasy sequence, and the funniest football finale of all time, complete with banana peels and a chariot. —Bill Desowitz
(Check out Funny movie quotes from Horse Feathers for a good sampling of the Marx Brothers’ zany verbal humor)
Trivia about Horse Feathers starring the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo
- When Groucho Marx is broadcasting on the radio, the man next to him at the typewriter is Groucho’s friend/writer Arthur Sheekman.
- In the last half of the movie, Chico Marx is limping. During the making of the movie, Chico was in a car accident and his kneecap was shattered.
- All four Marx Brothers perform their own version of the song “Everyone Says I Love You“. In fact, Harpo Marx performs it twice: whistling it once to his horse, and playing it on his trademark harp. Woody Allen later used the song within his musical of the same name. The movie had a scene of Woody and others dressed as Groucho for a costume party.
- A scene in which all four Marx Brothers play a poker game as the university burns to the ground around them was filmed but cut.
- According to Groucho Marx, when Thelma Todd fell out of the boat he kept rowing as she cried for help not knowing she really couldn’t swim. Crew members got her out of the water.
- Zeppo played Groucho’s son, but in real life, Zeppo was only 11 years younger than Groucho. Groucho was born in 1890, and Zeppo in 1901.
- Although the present running time (68 minutes) is very close to that of the original (70 minutes), there are still a few bits and pieces and lines of dialogue missing. This is due to re-editing in 1935 in order to bring the film up to Production Code standards. Apparently, the only surviving material also contained some splices which lop off lines of dialogue and bits of action, particularly in the sequence in Thelma Todd’s apartment involving the blocks of ice.
- Before she became famous, Shirley Temple walked by the set with her parents at one point during filming. Harpo Marx reportedly approached her parents with an offer to adopt the child on the spot for $50,000.
- “Darwin” & “Huxley,” two opposing college football team, are named after the originator of the theory of evolution, 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin, and his leading advocate, biologist Thomas Huxley.
- One of over 700 Paramount Productions, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution. They have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since.