Mr. Hammer runs a bankrupt Florida hotel. He'll try anything to make money, even make love to rich Mrs. Potter. But his main scheme, selling real estate, is in danger of sabotage from zanies Chico and Harpo, who also reduce the schemes of a pair of jewel thieves to chaos. A subplot involves the star-crossed love of Polly Potter and architect Bob Adams. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
A mixed bag at best, but Harpo is at his most aggressive.
The first Marx Brothers film is not one of the best. Comic material of about 30 minutes' worth is padded by gratuitous musical numbers until it fits into a prolonged 90-minute format. And the two romantic leads, Mary Eaton (whose incomprehensible "Monkey Doodle-Doo" piece should've been cut out altogether) and especially Oscar Shaw, are AWFUL! Even Margaret Dumont is worse than usual. However, the reports on the film's staginess are rather exaggerated; I've seen 50's and 60's comedies that were just as stagy ("The Seven Year Itch" is one that comes to mind). Groucho does have a few funny one-liners ("Sorry gentlemen but we seem to have no vacancies. We have plenty of rooms though!"). And Harpo really does make a very strong impression; far from being the good-natured, buffoonish clown that he became in some of the team's later films, here he's wily, amoral, and even a little mean-spirited (though with one tender moment), always coming out on top in every situation, always too fast for the others (including his brothers!) to follow. He's an extraordinary creation, making the picture worthy of a second viewing just to see him again. (**1/2)
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