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   A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935) 

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CAST
Groucho Marx
Chico Marx
Harpo Marx
Kitty Carlisle
Allan Jones
Walter Woolf King
Sig Ruman
Margaret Dumont
Edward Keane

DIRECTED BY
Sam Wood

PURCHASE


DVD



About Groucho




Time: 90 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Slapstick Comedy


Like most Marx Brothers comedies, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA has just enough plot to give them situations to strut their individual talents and make the story interesting, but not enough of one to strangle the manic pace and craziness that ensues. This foray is a little more highbrow since the secondary players are actually opera singers trying to become famous as they fall in love. There is more music than usual and much opera singing, but the Brothers still manage to work their comic magic in between. In fact, it makes them even funnier since most people dislike opera and are only too pleased to see it made fun of.

Their usual comic foil Margaret Dumont reteams with the brothers as Groucho's "love" interest and financial backer Mrs. Claypool. Groucho plays Otis B. Driftwood a con artist cum manager trying to convince the wealthy dowager he can get her into high society if she promises to invest $200,000 in the New York Opera Company. He introduces her to Hermann Gottleib (Rumann) the head of the opera company who convinces her that she'll be the toast of New York since they'll be hiring the celebrated Italian opera singer Rodolpho Lassparri (King) for the new season with her cash. Meanwhile, Tomasso (Harpo) is being harassed and fired by the overbearing Lassparri and Fiorello (Chico) is trying to think of a way to get his friend Ricardo (Jones), a wonderful, yet unknown tenor, into the limelight. Ricardo wants to be famous, but he'd much rather be with Rosa (Carlisle), an up-and-coming soprano, who feels the same way.

Unfortunately, she's caught the eye of Lassparri, who wants to take her to New York with him for the season. Ricardo doesn't want to stand in the way of her career, so she decides to go. Knowing Lassparri's intentions, Ricardo and the boys stow away on the steamer to protect Rosa. They have nowhere to stay, so Otis allows them to stay in his cabin. Of course, craziness ensues. In one of cinema's most famously funny scenes, everyone from the bellhop to a manicurist arrives and piles into the tiny stateroom. Just when you don't think the room could fit another soul, they add 10 more. The boys are discovered by Lassparri after a rousing musical performance on deck. They are very popular with the passengers, but not so much with ship security. To get off the ship unnoticed Tomasso, Fiorello and Ricardo pretend to be three heroic brothers. They are quickly found out when the speeches of their exploits don't exactly wow the waiting crowd.


"That's the fire escape, and that's a table, and this is a room, and there's the door and I wish you'd use it."

Not wanting them to be thrown out of the country, Otis takes them in at his hotel. This doesn't go over well with the local police who know he's hiding them, but has a hard time proving it since the evidence keeps disappearing. Ricardo surprises Rosa, who thrilled that he's in New York. However, he ruins her debut by punching Lassparri in the face. Now they're all in serious trouble and the only way to make things right, is to go to the opening night performance and make the audience hate Lassparri. It isn't easy, but it sure is funny. They wreak havoc on the actors, the sets, the musicians and even the police. In the end, no one can resist the sweet music Ricardo and Rosa perform together and everything ends happily...with Otis and Fiorello each receiving their ten percent.

No one does screwball comedies better than the Marx Brothers and if you've never seen any of their films, you're truly missing out on some of cinema's funniest and best choreographed comic moments. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA is filled with classic moments, like the people pilling into the stateroom, the bedroom furniture being moved from room to room and the finale at the opera that's so insane I couldn't begin to describe all the shenanigans that occur. Lest you think this is all slapstick, think again. Groucho has some of the best dialogue ever uttered. From puns to insults to witty one-liners, no one has better delivery and timing than him. His brothers are no slouches in this department either, but their comedy tends towards the more physical. How Harpo can stay completely silent when there's so much to laugh at is beyond me.

Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones are wonderful as the young lovers Ricardo and Rosa. They play along pretty well for straight men and give the brothers something to fight for. Jones occasionally gets involved in the nuttiness, but leaves the main action to the professionals. There are many singing numbers throughout the film, which really slow down the pace, but on the flip side give the audience a moment to catch their breath. They also give the young lovers the chance to strut their stuff and profess their love in a beautiful and fun way. How else would the audience know that they're the best in the world, unless you got to hear them. If you like your comedies with a lot of laughs and lunacy, than you must see this film. No one does it better.



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