08 April 2006

Marx (1931)

1931 - The House That Shadows Built: "I'll Say She Is" - This is a five-minute-long segment in a promotional film from Paramount. Though the entire film itself is impossible to find, this short is on the Inside the Marx Brothers DVD. It's unnamed, so I borrowed the name from here. Basically, the Bros. enter into a casting office and annoy a theater director. Notably, Zeppo is the first to enter and speaks more lines in this 5-minute short that he has in the previous 90-minute films combined. More notable to me: Harpo manages the very difficult "double leg hold," using the director and Chico (and subsequently getting tossed to the ground). The short is much zanier that we've seen in the two previous films, which I think might be a sign of things to come. (6/10)

d. ??

1931 - Monkey Business - Hijinx from an ocean liner to a barn. One thing I noticed right away is that Groucho is physically wackier in this film. He dances and sings, meows and struts like a cat in heat, and uses his trademarked stooped walk to get where he's going. I like this change. Chico's unending song "Sugar in the Morning" from Animal Crackers makes appearance in both the opening credits and in Harpo's harp composition this time around. It seems like it might be the Bros.' theme song now. Both this film and "I'll Say She Is" reference and poke fun at Maurice Chevalier. Luckily, not knowing who this is doesn't diminish the laughs. You can easily infer that he was some famous dope who sang love songs. I doubt, 75 years from now, people would be able to make sense of, for example, the "Wassup!" jokes in Scary Movie. And, amazingly, Zeppo manages to actually work in this film as he takes over the male romantic lead. He even gets the girl at the end after a massive fist-fight (!) which begins when he dives off of a barn loft (!!) onto the bad guy . (7/10)

d. Norman Z. McLeod