Horse Feathers

1932, Movie, NR, 70 mins

Review

HORSE FEATHERS
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Not a masterpiece but divine all the same. The Marx Brothers bring their special brand of anarchy to the world of college football in this wonderfully madcap comedy.

Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Groucho) is named president of Huxley College, which hasn't won a football game since its founding in 1888. Acting on the advice of his son (Zeppo), Wagstaff attempts to recruit a pair of pro players, but a mixup at a speakeasy leads him to mistake a dog catcher (Harpo) and bootlegging iceman (Chico) for football players. Just the same, Wagstaff sends them to kidnap arch rival Darwin College's ringers; unfortunately, they fail. Meanwhile, college widow Connie Bailey (Thelma Todd), who is in cahoots with Darwin's Jennings, tries to wheedle the Huxley "signals" out of Groucho.

Although there are many funny moments preceding it, the film's big payoff comes in the Huxley-Darwin game, in which Harpo, Chico and Groucho all contribute to a zany comeback victory brought about through the use of banana peels, an elastic band, a chariot, and a surplus of footballs. Perhaps the most freewheeling film the Brothers Marx ever made, this fast-paced laugh fest was directed by Norman Z. McLeod and written by the great humorist S.J. Perelman with help from Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. With the delectable, unappreciated Thelma Todd, a spun-sugar confection from the Lombard sorority, and a marvelous foil for Groucho. leave a comment

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