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Animal Crackers (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1929-2004)

Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Groucho Marx, more...
Director: Victor Heerman, Joseph Santley, Robert Florey, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: , Not Rated
Studio: Universal
Genre: Comedies, Pre-Code, Precode, Classics, Classic Comedy, Classic Comedy, Screwball, Sports Comedy, Sports, Sports Comedy, Slapstick
Languages: English

This title is currently out of print.

Synopses
Animal Crackers (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1930)
Animal Crackers, like The Cocoanuts before is an all-but-literal translation to film of a smash-hit Marx Brothers Broadway musical. The aristocratic Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) holds a weekend party at her Long Island Estate. Her guest of honor is famed (but likely fraudulent) African explorer Geoffrey T. Spaulding (Groucho Marx). Also showing up are renegade musician Signor Emmanuel Ravelli (Chico Marx), the mute, girl-chasing "Professor" (Harpo Marx) and Spaulding's faithful secretary Horatio Jamison (Zeppo Marx). The film, revolving around a stolen painting, finds Groucho lecturing on his most recent safari ("One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know"), Harpo and Chico unabashedly cheating at bridge, Groucho dictating a wildly nonsequitur letter to the firm of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger and McCormick, and Groucho and Chico drawing up plans to build a house. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Duck Soup (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1933)
In this 1933 Marx Brothers film, the mythical country of Freedonia is broke and on the verge of revolution. Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Freedonia's principal benefactress, will lend the country $20 million if the president withdraws and places the government in the hands of the "fearless, progressive" Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). At his inauguration, Firefly shows up late, insults everyone in sight, and sings a song about how he intends to abuse his power. Naturally, the crowd cheers wildly. Meanwhile, Ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) of neighboring Sylvania schemes to oust Firefly and take over Freedonia himself. To gather enough evidence to discredit Firefly, he sends his most trusted spies, Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx). Five minutes after they show up in Freedonia, both spies become important members of Firefly's cabinet, though Chicolini keeps his day job as a peanut vendor. Firefly eventually declares war on Sylvania, an absurd farrago with Firefly changing uniforms from scene to scene, Chicolini going to the other side because the food is better, and Pinky parading around the battlefield with a sandwich board reading "Join the Army and See the Navy." ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Horse Feathers (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1932)
If ever there was an archetypal Marx Brothers comedy, it was the team's 1932 offering Horse Feathers. Groucho Marx is cast as Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the newest president of Huxley College. As he delivers his introductory speech before the assembled student body ("As I look out among your smiling, eager faces, I can readily understand why this college is flat on its back"), he maps out his plans for the future by singing those deathless hits Whatever It Is, I'm Against It and I Always Get My Man. He then has a powwow with his son Frank (Zeppo Marx), who has been a Huxley student for 12 years. Frank tells his old man that Huxley has had a new president every year since 1888, the year the college won its last football game. The only way to save the establishment is to hire a couple of good football players, Mullen and McHardie (Jim Pierce and Nat Pendleton), who hang out at the local speakeasy. With his usual efficiency, Professor Wagstaff signs up the wrong men for the Huxley team: Baravelli (Chico Marx), the ice man/bootlegger, and Pinky (Harpo Marx) the dog catcher. Meanwhile, gambler Jennings (David Landau), who has all his money bet on Darwin College in the upcoming Thanksgiving Day football game, instructs his girlfriend Connie Bailey (Thelma Todd), the college widow, to get her hands on Huxley's secret football signals. This leads to a frenetic four-way courtship in Connie's apartment, as Wagstaff, Baravelli, Pinky and Frank duck in and out of doors and windows to romance the heroine. Later on, Baravelli and Pinky try to kidnap Mullen and McHardie to keep them out of the Big Game, only to end up kidnapped themselves. Miraculously, all four of our heroes show up at the Huxley-Darwin game in time, achieving victory through some of the most creative cheating in gridiron history. Written by such renowned wits as S. J. Perelman, Will B. Johnstone, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, Horse Feathers is a comedy smorgasbord, offering generous doses of all four Marx Brothers performing some of their best-ever material. Who could not love a film in which, just before Chico Marx launches into his obligatory piano solo, Groucho saunters up to the camera and growls "I've got to stay here, but that's no reason why you folks can't go into the lobby until this thing blows over"? In addition, this is the film that introduced the semi-satirical romantic ballad Everyone Says I Love You, which was used over six decades later as the title of a Woody Allen picture. Unfortunately, current prints of Horse Feathers are incomplete, with nearly five minutes of comedy material missing; the search goes on for a pristine, uncut negative. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Monkey Business (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1931)
The first Marx Brothers film to be written directly for the screen (its authors included S. J. Perelman, Arthur Sheekman and Will B. Johnstone), Monkey Business is also the merry Marxes' first Hollywood production. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo are brilliantly cast as four stowaways on an ocean liner, bound for New York. As our heroes endeavor to elude dimwitted First Mate Gibson (Tom Kennedy), each of the brothers gets involved in an adventure of his own. Groucho finds himself in a menage a trois with gangster Alky Briggs (Harry Briggs) and Briggs' sexy wife Lucille (Thelma Todd); Harpo joins a "Punch and Judy" puppet show, driving the ship's crew into a frenzy of confusion; Chico hires himself out as bodyguard to retired bootlegger Joe Helton (Rockliffe Fellowes); and Zeppo romances Joe's pretty daughter Mary (Ruth Hall). Once they've arrived in New York, the Marx boys head to Helton's Long Island mansion, where, after the obligatory harp-and-piano musical interludes, the fearsome foursome team up to rescue Mary from her kidnappers. There are far too many wonderful moments in Monkey Business to detail here, but highlights include Groucho's initial confrontation with Alky Briggs ("With a little study, you'll go a long way, and I wish you'd start now!") and his romantic tete-a-tetes with Lucille ("Come with me, and we'll lodge with my fleas in the hills -- er, flee to my lodge in the hills"); Harpo and Chico's attempts to shave a sleeping barbershop customer ("You know what, partner? I think we give-a him one snoop too much"); and the classic setpiece, "borrowed" from the team's early Broadway hit I'll Say She Is, in which all Four Marx Brothers try to slip past the customs officials by posing as Maurice Chevalier! Though not the best of their Paramount features, Monkey Business is still among the funniest Marx Brothers comedies ever made -- and one of the funniest comedies, period. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Cocoanuts (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1929)
While The Four Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo) were appearing nightly on Broadway in Animal Crackers in the spring of 1929, they spent their days shooting their first film, The Cocoanuts, at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Long Island. Based on their 1925 stage hit, The Cocoanuts is set in Miami, where hotel manager Mr. Hammer (Groucho Marx) struggles to keep his establishment from going under. Hammer's only paying guest is Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont), whose daughter Polly (Mary Eaton) is in love with aspiring architect Bob (Oscar Shaw). Mrs. Potter would prefer that Polly marry the respectable Harvey Yates (Cyril Ring); what she doesn't know is that Yates is a jewel thief, in cahoots with the slinky Penelope (Kay Francis). The script was written by George S. Kaufman, and the music by Irving Berlin. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (Bonus Disc) (2004)
This Bonus disc contains three interviews:
1. TODAY SHOW Interview With Harpo Marx, 1961
2. TODAY SHOW Interview With Groucho Marx, 1963
3. TODAY SHOW Interview With William Marx, 1985

GreenCine Member Ratings

Animal Crackers (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1930)
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8.10 (77 votes)
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Duck Soup (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1933)
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8.41 (237 votes)
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Horse Feathers (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1932)
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8.17 (89 votes)
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Monkey Business (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1931)
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8.23 (60 votes)
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The Cocoanuts (The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection) (1929)
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7.32 (38 votes)
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The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (Bonus Disc) (2004)
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4.50 (6 votes)
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GreenCine Member Reviews

Entertaining, but... by MBreslau June 23, 2012 - 6:49 AM PDT
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In 1930, someone hadn't figured out how to make a Marx brothers film.
This epic is laden with superfluous musical numbers (a poor man's Gilbert and Sullivan), a plot that is spotty at best, and it cannot decide if it's a comedy, a mystery, a romance, or whatever. By trying to please everybody, it pleases very few.

That said, it does have the Marx brothers - and that counts for a lot. It has a number of classic Groucho lines (I once shot an elephant in my pajamas) and much brilliant sillyness.

Just a note on the sound.... by larbeck March 4, 2003 - 1:58 PM PST
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1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
...while it is true that the soundtrack is ENCODED in the AC3 format and it has the potential of High Fidelity, understand that the master for this was a mono track on the film stock from 1933. Do not expect CD quality sound!

However, do expect to laugh your ass off!

I love the Brothers Marx!

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Village Voice's 100 Best Films of the 20th Century
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When the Village Voice held its "First Annual Film Critics' Poll" they asked 50 or so film critics (like Molly Haskell, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Andrew Sarris) to rank their top ten best films of the century. This is the result.
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