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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 brilliant film debut by the Marx Brothers in this 1929 musical comedy (from Broadway) about land speculation in Florida, jewel thieves, and well the Marx Brothers. In their first film, all the familiar schtick and word play are already in place with Groucho, Chico, and Harpo all excellent.
As usual there is also a romantic young couple--Mary Eaton and Oscar Shaw--and bad guys--Kay Francis and Cyril Ring. Also making her film debut at age 40 is the wonderful and imperious Margaret Dumont. Basil Ruysdael plays the house detective. Zeppo Marx plays the desk clerk.
A blah ballad is sung to death, but The Monkey Doodle-Doo song is terrific and well sung and danced by Eaton (a Broadway star) and chorus. Oddly staged productions number with chorus in monkey suits and tourists milling about in the background. But Eaton is quite good, considering the early sound equipment. And she has great legs.
Francis is fun in her second film (she made five in 1929) but teamed with the unappealing Ring. Shaw is OK but seems too old to be playing the juvenile lead.
But while Dumont, Francis, and Eaton are fun, it's the 3 brothers who dominate the film. Several classic bits, including the viaduct gag, Chico's great piano solo, Harpo getting to steal a few scenes, and of course Groucho riding roughshod over everyone. What a treat! While Kay Francis went on to major stardom in the 30s, Mary Eaton made one disastrous film after this hit, Flo Ziegfeld's Glorifying the American Girl. That ended her starring career in Hollywood.
The more I watch the Marx Brothers the more I appreciate Chico, who was always my least favorite of the 3. Now I notice his perfect comic timing and I just love his piano solos.
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