Monday, January 11, 2016

Monkey Business (1931)

The FOUR Marx Brothers (yea, we're still dealing with Zeppo at this time) are stowaways on an ocean liner. They spend their time running away from the crew and become caught up in a conflict between a small time hood and a retired mob boss. Standard Marx Brothers bits apply.

This may be the least interesting Marx Brothers film, short of A Night in Casablanca. Nothing particularly compelling or interesting here. This was the first Marx Brothers film made specifically for the screen, and the first produced in Hollywood. Their films do seem to get better after this one, so maybe they needed to find their voice again.

Thelma Todd took what may have been the Margaret Dumont part because she was younger and prettier. Todd would return in Horse Feathers, and Dumont would pick up again in Duck Soup. Then Todd was murdered.

So, what's the deal with Zeppo anyhow? The big three all had their distinct look and mannerisms. But Zeppo was, well, a poor man's romantic lead. He took over for Gummo as the straight man the act simply didn't need. In their vaudeville days (and apparently in their film career to a small extent) he would substitute for one of his brothers from time to time. Zeppo was present for the first five films before joining Gummo as a talent agent.

No real highs here, but no real lows either. Just consistently meh. It falls in the "kinda short and not painful to watch" category I seem to find, but no real reason to go out of your way to see it. AMRU 2.5.
"Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty."

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