Captain Spaulding, the noted explorer, returns from Africa and attends a gala party held by Mrs. Rittenhouse. A painting displayed at that party is stolen, and the Marxes help recover it. Well, maybe 'help' isn't quite the word I was looking for--this is the Marx Brothers, after all... Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The decision to cast Lillian Roth in this film was in essence a mild rebuke or punishment for the young star. Roth had proven difficult to work with while filming Cecil B. DeMille's Madam Satan (1930), and Paramount head B.P. Schulberg decided to put Roth in this film. Schulberg told Roth "We're sending you back to New York to be kicked in the rear by the Marx Brothers until you learn to behave." The brothers' antics had the intended effect on Roth, who recalled that her experiences working on the film were "one step removed from the circus." See more »
In the opening scenes Hives turns to speak to Mrs. Rittenhouse after his opening song, and his waistcoat is different. It continues to swap from one style to another throughout the movie. See more »
One of the Marx Brothers' earliest films, "Animal Crackers" is not nearly as refined as some of their later comic masterpieces, but it is a lot of fun. Some of the sequences are just as good as anything in their greatest films.
As in most of their movies, the actual plot is amusing but simple, and serves mostly as an excuse to tie together the various comic bits and songs. Compared with their later movies, this one seems much more stage-bound, and there is more screen time given to the other actors, slowing things down somewhat. But when Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo get their chance, they usually deliver.
Particularly funny in this one is a hilarious bridge game that matches Harpo and Chico against two society women. Zeppo gets a few good moments, too, as the secretary to "Captain Spaulding" (Groucho). And of course Captain Spaulding's theme song is always a favorite.
Though the Marx Brothers would later make even better movies, "Animal Crackers" is great entertainment in its own right, and well worth watching.
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