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The Marx Brothers had performed ANIMAL CRACKERS on Broadway several times,
and the jokes were quite familiar to them before they decided to finally
film it in 1930. Unlike with their previous motion picture, THE COCOANUTS,
the sound equipment had improved, and the director understood the
ANIMAL CRACKERS is a wonderful (though stage-bound) show that features some of the funniest material the Marx brothers ever did. Groucho is downright hilarious as Capt Spaulding, the African explorer("Did someone call me snorer?") Harpo and Chico play musicians who make more money by not playing, and they make even more if they don't rehearse("You couldn't afford it.").Zeppo is the secretary(the biggest part he ever had), and Margret Dumont is the trusty high-society foil. There's a fish peddler, two young kids in love, a stolen painting, and cockroaches. ("Yeah, and the biggest one has got asthma!")
ANIMAL CRACKERS is simply one of the funniest movies ever made, and if you don't mind a few dated jokes, then DO CHECK THIS OUT. You'll never play bridge the same way again.("He thought it was contact bridge.")
The early Marx Brothers films are reliably delightful. "Monkey Business." "Duck Soup." Doesn't matter. They're all full of amazing anarchy. "Hello, I must be going." "One night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know." The plots and the supporting actors are sometimes creaky and always irrelevant. Just sit back and let the brothers have their way with you. "Hooray for Captain Spaulding!"
When Discussing a Marx Brothers Film it is Obligatory to Condescend to
the Extraneous Musical Numbers (those without the Brothers) and the
In this, the Second Marx Feature and the Second Filmed Stage Play, the Plot is Heavily Intrusive and the Music is Forgettable at Best.
The Marx Brothers, perhaps more than Any other Comedy Team, seem to Contrast greatly with the "Filler" of Burdensome Baggage because Their Zany Anarchy is so Wildly Untamed and Ill Fitting to the Society Surrounding Them. It is a Catastrophic Collision.
When Groucho, Chico, and Harpo are doing Their Thing it Commands attention and admiration. The Timing is Pure Punctuated Pandemonium and the Appearance of the Odd Looking Brothers demands Comment just because of the How Strange They Look. They are like Another Species Invading Our World.
"Sometimes" Zeppo is On Hand in this one as is Fan and Groucho Favorite Margaret Dumont. The "Straights" are Lillian Roth and Louis Sorin. The Camera is "Still" in the Motionless Mode of 1930, however the Sound has Improved since "Coconuts" (1929).
Overall, it is Better than Their Deut but Not as Good as what was to come as the Marx Brothers Continued to Improve, Peaking with either "Duck Soup" (1933) or "A Night at the Opera" (1935) depending on Who is Doing the Talking. You can bet it won't be Harpo.
While the first few minutes of "Animal Crackers" gave me the impression
that it wasn't going to be very funny - and a few scenes looked fairly
racist - it soon turned hilarious. The truth is, the Marx Brothers'
movies don't need plots: as long as we can watch Groucho make a joke
out of everything, Chico feign an Italian persona and Harpo be
completely silly, it's just great. I suspect that they probably had a
lot of fun filming this movie. I literally felt like I was going hoarse
from laughing during the few minutes leading up to the card game (but I
managed to keep my breath). Along with the anarchic humor, the scenes
of Chico playing the piano and Harpo playing the harp are almost
So, this remains an important part of cinema history. The era of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers was truly one of a kind. A comic masterpiece.
"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my
pajamas, I don't know."
The Marx Brothers really are operating on all cylinders in this film! It's in this, their second movie, where everything comes together and they start to really become themselves. ANIMAL CRACKERS is very zany and all over the place, with little sense to be found in what passes for the "plot" - but that's much of its charm. Probably the first "exceptional" Marx film, full of funny lines and outrageous situations. The wordplay between Captain Spaulding (Groucho) and Mr. Chandler (aka the "Fish Man") is a high point, as are the exchanges with Spaulding and the hopelessly naive Margaret Dumont character.
There are antiquated musical breaks to contend with and the action still feels kind of stagy at various points, but it doesn't make any difference while we're chuckling along with the consistent antics of Groucho, Harpo and Chico (ummm.. oh, and yeah, that Zeppo guy's in there too someplace). Not flawless, but good.
"Animal Crackers" is worth seeing, even if you are not a fan of the Marx Brothers. The film is basically a popular late 1920's Broadway (stage) musical comedy that was put on film. All of the stage sound effects, backdrops, and props are as if you were there on Broadway in 1929, so historically speaking, it is priceless as an example of 1920's stage shows. As a comedy, it is a classic! The Marx Brothers at their best, still young, trying out new material, and creating mayhem! The title doesn't make sense, but who cares?
This is the one film the Marx Brothers made that someone might be able to covince me is better than Duck Soup-maybe. Excellent script, about as believable a plot as they ever had and just an overall Gem of a movie. It also provided the song with which Groucho was most identified in later years-"Hooray For Captain Spaulding". Great fun. Highly recommended (but I still like Duck Soup better!)
The Marx Brothers were responsible for crafting some of the greatest
and funniest comedies of the 20th century, and "Animal Crackers" ranks
high among the list of their finest work. "animal Crackers" embodies
the absurd and occasionally nonsensical wit of the Marx Brothers'
routine with near flawlessness.
This is a masterpiece of the weird and wacky, an anarchic comedy spectacle in which rules are practically non existent; anything can happen in the maniacal comic landscape that the Marx Brothers inhabit. The fourth wall is constantly being broken, puns are being made left and right, insults and one liners are shot from Groucho's mouth at the speed of a bullet, Harpo's physical routines borderline complete madness, and it all culminates together to create one of the greatest and funniest movies of the 1930's. As always, Groucho's fearlessly witty sense of humor is the comedic highlight, while Harpo further proves that physical comedy CAN be done well, and Chico balances both physical and verbal humor in his own charming way (and Zeppo works well as a straight man that his manic brothers can play off of). Chico and Harpo also show off their mind boggling musical talent on the piano and harp. Although these performances do not match those in the cinematic masterwork "A Night at the Opera", they are still extraordinary and make me wish with all of my heart that I had a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of their relentless musical talent.
The "plot" surrounding the Marx Brothers' often surreal chaos is hardly even utilized, and when it is the film remains quite entertaining. As always, the mere fragments of a storyline only work as set ups to more comic insanity, and there is nothing wrong with that!
Two sets of guests coincidentally conspire to steal the same painting at the same time at the mansion where they are staying in this chaotic early Marx Brothers comedy. Among the other guests are Groucho, Chicho, Harpo and Zeppo, all playing characters with their trademark personae. Groucho is in especially good form, delivering witty lines left, right and centre and of course charming the socks off Margaret Dumont with indirect insults. Dumont is very effective here too; same goes for most of the other supporting players whose reactions to the Marxes' shenanigans are often funnier than the gags themselves - and yet, this is a far cry from 'Duck Soup', which many would agree is their signature piece. The lack of a solid plot is a big issue; the mixed up paintings could have been very funny but they are kept in the backdrop with the film instead ensuring the Marxes have ample opportunity to strut their stuff. Several shenanigans also last too long (a card game and Harpo playing the harp are at least two events that go on for minutes on end for no particular reason); cutting back some of the songs would not hurt either. And yet, while plodding at its weakest, 'Animal Crackers' is still laugh-out-loud funny at its best with a hilarious discussion of seven cent nickels, one of the wackiest dictation scenes ever put to film and Groucho constantly getting his character's name confused with others. The film boasts some remarkably lavish sets too and is a real wonder to look at for a film that rarely ventures outside of its prime setting.
"Hooray for Captain Spalding" became the theme for Groucho Marx. He used it on his TV show "You Bet Your Life." When he enters to this theme in Animal Crackers with that crazy dance, turning his legs out, looking like an African explorer with a pith helmet, it is one of the all time classic moments in the movies. The one liners go on and on so the plot is inconsequential. What there is of it involves the theft of a valuable painting and a worthy fake. People are frustrated until the Marx Brothers get involved. Of course, they are hardly helpful, just causing chaos. And it makes no difference. Because there is no situation they can't screw up and eventually land on their feet. We are always going to be treated to a piano solo by Chico and some harp by Harpo (in addition to his off the wall craziness). Great movie.
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