- The Marx Brothers: A Night at the Opera review by JD
Harpo's dreadful acting used to bother me, the badly dubbed musical interludes still do, but Groucho's panache has got to warm the soul on the coldest day. It is incredibly corny but I smiled because it was.
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Too much opera.
- The Marx Brothers: A Night at the Opera review by Steve Mason
When the Marx Brothers signed with Irving Thalberg, he asked them if they would take a pay cut as Zeppo had quit. Groucho commented that without him they were worth twice as much. Such a shame then that no one could extend similar insight to the musical numbers that stretch the running time of their MGM debut over 90 minutes and introduce a few too many longueurs to their maniacal, fast talking comedy.
The brothers' act was considerably revised, toning down the anarchy, and making the trio more likeable by having them attack the bad guys, rather than just anyone. And getting the three working together as a gang. The difference is obvious, but there are still some long stretches of fabulous wordplay from George S. Kaufman and Morrie Riskind, including one of the Marx Brother's most famous sketches in which Chico and Groucho (Otis B. Driftwood) negotiate a legal contract for the services of singer Allan Jones and Chico concludes 'there ain't no Sanity Claus'.
There is also the famous crowded stateroom scene devised by Al Boasberg. Margaret Dumont adds a little continuity by leaving Paramount with the remaining trio to play Mrs Claypole.
It's tempting to lean on the FF during the musical numbers. Harpo and Chico's recitals are actually harder to tolerate than the opera. They all slow the film down. Hard to be too critical as this was the biggest box office hit of their careers. But everything else is so good that there is some regret of what might have been.
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