The Marx Brothers Collection (A Night at The Opera/A Day at The Races/A Night in Casablanca/Room Service/At the Circus/Go West/The Big Store)
A five DVD set, containing seven of the Marx Brothers’ movies (A Night at The Opera, A Day at The Races, A Night in Casablanca, Room Service, At the Circus, Go West, The Big Store). Check out the individual reviews of the various movies. If you plan to buy more than one of any of those, save yourself money and buy the collection instead. Two of their best movies are included (A Night at The Opera, A Day at The Races), two good although underestimated films (A Night in Casablanca, At the Circus), with the rest being mediocre, although with good moments.
There are lots of extras included, such as Leonard Maltin’s commentary on A Night at The Opera, various shorts, trailers, etc. In short, it’s strongly recommended for any Marx Brothers fan.
Editorial Review of The Marx Brothers Collection (A Night at The Opera/A Day at The Races/A Night in Casablanca/Room Service/At the Circus/Go West/The Big Store) (courtesy of Amazon.com )
When it comes to long-awaited treats like The Marx Brothers Collection, you can never get too much of a good thing. These seven comedies can’t compare to the sheer lunacy of the five classics (The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup) that the Marx Bros. made for Paramount between 1929 and 1933 (available in The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection), but when uber-producer Irving Thalberg signed Groucho, Harpo, and Chico to an MGM contract in 1935 (by which time sibling costar Zeppo had become the team’s off-screen manager), he knew just how to cure their box-office blues.
As a result, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races were critical and commercial hits, lavishly produced according to the “Tiffany” studio’s golden-age formula of glamorous set pieces and musical numbers combined with sensible plots that smoothly integrated snappy, well-written Marxian antics. Opera is the jewel of this set, with timeless scenes (the Stateroom, the Groucho-Chico contract negotiation, etc.) that rank among the greatest bits of silver-screen comedy… not to mention Groucho’s flirtatious insults at Margaret Dumont’s upper-crust expense.
A Day at the Races deserves near-equal acclaim (“Get-a your tootsie-fruitsie ice cream!”), but Thalberg’s death in 1937 dealt a devastating blow, and the Marxes suffered from studio indifference, resulting in a succession of comedies that are timelessly enjoyable even as they fall prey to diminishing returns. By the time they made Go West and The Big Store, the Marxes were out of their element, and a few of the musical interludes indulge racial stereotypes that were common in the studio era. Despite this, these movies remain fresh and frantic, and Warner Bros. (holder of the RKO and MGM libraries) has done a marvelous job of packaging The Marx Brothers Collection to nostalgically approximate the filmgoing experience of the 1930s and ’40s, with vintage shorts (Our Gang, Robert Benchley comedies, MGM cartoons, etc.) from the time of each feature’s original release.
Archival materials are slim but worthwhile (especially Groucho’s 1961 interview with TV talk-show host Hy Gardner), and while Glenn Mitchell’s commentary on Races is sparse and superficial, Leonard Maltin brings his usual superfan’s enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge to bear on a full-length Opera commentary track. The new documentaries are somewhat redundant, but essential viewing for Marx Bros. neophytes. With all seven films presented in pristine condition, this is definitely a Marx Brothers Collection worth having. –Jeff Shannon
Description of The Marx Brothers Collection
This set includes seven of only thirteen Marx Brothers films ever made! Collection includes: A Night at The Opera (1935) The Marx Brothers turn Mrs. Claypool’s opera into chaos in their efforts to help two young hopefuls get a break. It contains the famous scene where Groucho, Chico and Harpo cram a ship’s stateroom with wall-to-wall people, gags, one-liners, musical riffs and two hard-boiled eggs. A Day at The Races (1937) Groucho stars as Hugo Z. Hackenbush, a horse veterinarian dispensing horse pills and quips with equal glee. Chico selling racing tips, Harpo destroying a piano to turn it into a harp and favorite foil actress Margaret Dumont make this thoroughbred comedy wall-to-wall hilarity.
A Night in Casablanca (1946) This parody of the Bogart/Bergman 1943 classic features the Nazis vs. the nutsies as the Marx Brothers foil Axis criminals when they find stolen jewels and paintings Nazis have hidden in a hotel. Room Service/At the Circus These two films are combined on one disc to provide double doses of laughter. In Room Service (1938), Lucille Ball and Ann Miller provide comic co-star support while the Marx Brothers play producers trying to keep their show above water and a hotel room over their head.
In At the Circus (1939) Groucho stars as professional shyster lawyer J. Cheever Loophole in the middle of big-top bedlam as the boys try to save the circus and look to Margaret Dumont for the money to do so. Groucho sings one of his famous songs, Lydia the Tattooed Lady. Go West/The Big Store Another Marx Brothers twin bill makes this a hilarious comedy two-fer. In the first, the Marxmen Go West (1940) to the land of outlaws and Indians where the fun never stops and where they outwit a land grabber. In The Big Store (1941), Groucho plays Attorney Wolf J. Flywheel who with sidekick Wacky (Harpo) and bodyguard Ravelli (Chico) are investigating the shady dealings of a crooked department store owner. Bonus extras include commentary by Leonard Maltin.
I rate it 4 stars out of 5.