A Night At The Opera

1935, Movie, NR, 90 mins

Review

NIGHT AT THE OPERA, A
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The Marx Brothers' most popular film and Groucho's favorite, before MGM queered their joyful anarchy. (Groucho must have loved the money which started rolling in; actually, the Marx Bros. were far more at home at Paramount.) Groucho, Chico, and Harpo join forces to disrupt the stuffy world of opera by wreaking havoc on the music, stage, and audience. Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho) tries to con rich Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont, in fabulous form) into investing her money in an opera company, while Tomasso (Harpo) and Fiorello (Chico) join the fray and take it upon themselves to help advance the careers of two struggling young singers, Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle--both begging for a stagehand to drop twin sandbags and kill the misery they subject an audience to. OPERA is their first at MGM, in case you hadn't guessed, after being dropped by Paramount and the first without Zeppo. Producer Irving Thalberg had faith in them but thought their films for Paramount lacked cohesive stories and enough time to work out the routines, so he prevailed upon them to take a 50-minute precis of the best scenes on the road. They toured four cities with writers George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind in the audience for 24 days and polished the gags until they were ready to film. The result was a huge success and the picture was a hit. Today it is fondly remembered for such classic comedy bits as Groucho and Chico drafting a contract, the stateroom scene, and the hilarious climax where the brothers make a shambles of "Il Trovatore." Sans DUCK SOUP, we'll watch this any day. leave a comment

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