Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Night at the Opera (1935)

The setting: a transatlantic voyage, then a New York opera house. The circumstance: Dumont character hires Groucho character to get her into High Society, and he has her donate to the opera. The complicating factor: Arrogant opera star has the hots for leading lady, but she loves unimportant background singer (who's really great if only someone would just give him a chance!). The result: unspectacular.

There is as much point summarizing a Marx Brothers film as there would a stooge short. The story just an excuse for the comedy bits. The ones that stand out are a cop searching through Groucho’s apartment looking for Chico, Harpo, and the background singer (they were stowaways) but they move to the other room in the nick of time. Meh. Another is where Groucho’s tiny state room is crowded by said stowaways, engineers, kitchen people, and a parade of insundry people.

Pretty opera star Rosa was played by a young Kitty Carlisle. From time well spent watching game shows in the 1970’s and 80’s, I was quite familiar with the old Kitty Carlisle. I never knew why she was famous, but she appeared to be popular, if boring. Apparently she did a lot of theater before and after her short, unremarkable Hollywood career. She went on to do a ton of variety TV before making To Tell the Truth a semi-permanent home. I had difficulty seeing the 25 year old Kitty and not seeing the geriatric Kitty I knew so well.

The first Zeppo-free Marx Brothers film and first with MGM, Groucho said it was one of his favorites. For me no gag stands out as particularly amusing. Nothing really wrong here, it's just predictable and seldom amusing. I’ve only six more Marx Brothers films to go and I am wondering if I’ll find any of them particularly interesting. I hope so. AMRU 3.
“I saw Mrs. Claypool first. Of course, her mother really saw her first but there's no point in bringing the Civil War into this.”

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