A Night at the Opera (1935)

DailyView: Day 117, Movie 190

One of the iconic Marx Brothers movies was A Night at the Opera, the 1935 slapstick classic, which was the first film from the Marx Brothers after some major changes. First, they went from Paramount Pictures to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and second, this was the first film since Zeppo left the act. Zeppo was very much a straight man in the act and was the lesser known of the quartet and, here, gets replaced with Alan Jones, a talented singer, in the basic role that would have been Zeppo’s.

In the film, Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx) meets aspiring opera singer Ricardo (Allan Jones) and attempts to get him a job. Ricardo is determined to gain the love of singer Rosa (Kitty Carlisle). Otis is helped by Fiorello (Chico Marx) and Tomasso (Harpo Marx). Chaos ensued.

The slapstick of the Marx Brothers was on clear display throughout the movie. There are some absolute amazing bits of comedy from the group, including the moving of beds between rooms to avoid capture by a policeman. The entire scene at the opera in the third act of this movie with Harpo swinging from the ropes above the stage was totally hilarious.

Is the story simple? Yes, but you are not watching Marx Brothers movies for deep, intricate plots. The interactions between Groucho and Chico are brilliantly scripted. They feel very much ad-libbed and are smooth as can be.

There are some great scenes of both Harpo and Chico showing off their musical skills. I can only assume that this is actually them performing. I know Harpo could play the harp, but Chico and his piano work was very impressive.

A Night at the Opera is a lot of fun and any fan of the Marx Brothers needs to see it.

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