Compared to A Night at the Opera it's a considerable step-up. For one thing, the direction and editing is much tighter and sharper, the cinematography much cleaner and clearer, and even the minor characters come across well - when they get a chance amongst the craziness. The musical numbers are a mixed bag - as they often were in these movies. Allan Jones does his best with a not-so-hot song, not helped by the Crinoline Chorus (one of whom never seems to be in the right place at the right time) and a totally irrelevant piece of ballet - though it has to be admitted Vivien Fay could spin in an extraordinary way. The black singers and dancers are an improvement, and the jiving that the young people do is fantastic. Those with their musical ears open will notice that at the beginning of the big race sequence at the end one of the tunes from A Night at the Opera turns up again: Cosi Cosa. Since we're told in the earlier movie that the phrase can mean anything, it seems entirely appropriate that it should get a second chance here.
|Examination scene: Dumont in the chair,|
Ruman & Ceeley with the brothers.
|Muir about to have her powder compact |
blown up in her face
Then there's the scene between Chico and Groucho - the equivalent of the contract tearing-up scene in Night at the Opera. Here Groucho is intending to put a bet on a horse, but Chico, needing cash in hand, manages to sell him a bundle of books - one by one at first, and then in a heap - each one supposedly given the code to the previous one. Like so much else in the movie it has lines that leap past before you realise they've quite surreal.
A friend said this film was his pick of the Marx movies: it looks as though he may have been right.