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Monkey Business (1931)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 7,688 users  
Reviews: 64 user | 29 critic

On a transatlantic crossing, the Marx brothers get up to their usual antics and manage to annoy just about everyone on board the ship.

Director:

(as Norman McLeod)
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Title: Monkey Business (1931)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
(as The Four Marx Brothers)
...
...
...
Zeppo Marx ...
Rockliffe Fellowes ...
Joe Helton
Harry Woods ...
Briggs
Thelma Todd ...
Lucille
Ruth Hall ...
Tom Kennedy ...
Gibson
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Storyline

While stowing away on a ship to America, the boys get involuntarily pressed into service as toughs for a pair of feuding gangsters while trying desparately to evade the ship's crew. After arriving stateside, one of the gangsters kidnaps the other's daughter - and it's up to our unlikely heroes to save the day. Written by scgary66

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 September 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monkey Business  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Groucho's line "Gary Cooper is much taller than me." becomes "Charlton Heston is much taller than me." in the Spanish dubbed version. Heston was only 7 years old when "Monkey Business" was released. See more »

Goofs

Groucho's position on the bed changes, when he 'shysters' a shyster layer. See more »

Quotes

Groucho: You call this a party? The beer is warm, the women cold and I'm hot under the collar.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are painted on the sides of barrels (In the film's opening, the Marx Brothers' characters are stow-aways on a cruise ship, hiding in barrels marked "Kippered Herring"). See more »

Connections

Spoofs The Big Pond (1930) See more »

Soundtracks

You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
(1930) (uncredited)
Written by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal and Pierre Norman
Sung by Zeppo Marx, Groucho Marx and Chico Marx
Heard when Harpo tries to convince the passport officials that he is Chevalier
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Zeppo's best Marx Brother Film
21 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Zeppo Marx is frequently considered with a trace of a sneer: the fourth brother who was not worthy of membership in one of filmdom's two best comedy teams. He was the fourth brother of Groucho, Chico, & Harpo Marx (and is only slightly better remembered than fifth brother Gummo, who never appeared in any of their films). He looked the best of the brothers (he was the youngest) so he could play the romantic lead if nobody else had the role (like Oscar Shaw did in COCONUTS). However although his appearance was better than the other three brothers, he was not a really handsome man like Robert Taylor or Tyrone Power. Also he had a serious problem with his sense of humor - he had one but it was remarkably similar to Groucho's. In fact, during the Broadway run of COCONUTS, Groucho was ordered by a doctor to take a long, overdue rest. He took off for two weeks, and was replaced by understudy Zeppo. At the end of two weeks he talked to the producers, and they willingly allowed him to take an additional week off. In fact, when that was finished they said he could take more time off if needed. They were not in a rush to get him back. Suspicious, Groucho went unannounced to the theater one night, and watched Zeppo being so good the audience was laughing hysterically at his delivery and acting. In a single day Groucho returned to the show. Groucho never made that mistake again.

It would have been impossible for Zeppo to have played a smaller version of Groucho on screen. There would have been an imbalance with two Grouchos in the films. So Zeppo was usually put into the films as Groucho's assistant, or secretary, or even his son (in HORSE FEATHERS). His part in COCONUTS, as the film exists today, is not very impressive (there is one scene where he and Groucho try to greet Chico and Harpo as new customers at the hotel, and keep missing their hands). In ANIMAL CRACKERS he is Jamison, the secretary to "Captain Spaulding", and has an amusing sequence regarding the immortal firm of "Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, & McCormick". In HORSE FEATHERS he did take part in the mad football game at the end of the film. In DUCK SOUP, as assistant to Rufus T. Firefly, he had more sequences that were funny, such as when he gets slapped for telling a story to Groucho that Groucho had previously told to him. He also takes part in the "Fredonia's Going to War" number, and in the battle section at the end. But only the Hungerdunger scene in ANIMAL CRACKERS (shared by Groucho), and this film, MONKEY BUSINESS, gives one an idea of Zeppo as an effective comic.

Here, unlike the other four appearances, he is not connected in the past with Groucho. He is paired with him, when he and Groucho are hired by Alky Briggs to be his torpedoes. However, he is frequently chased on the boat, and finds time to romance the film's heroine, in one particularly good moment telling her of his eternal devotion to her just before fleeing from her side to avoid being captured by members of the ship's crew. He also is able to romance her at her coming out society party, and rescues her from Briggs' gang. Here he finally does something normal to assist the film. He is a passably pleasant leading man, but nothing spectacular.

MONKEY BUSINESS was also surreal in it's humor, best in the puppet show sequence and also the attempt of the four brothers to get off the boat pretending to be Chevalier. It is a very funny movie - maybe not the best of all their films (DUCK SOUP or A NIGHT AT THE OPERA are that), but close to the best.

As for Zeppo, he remained part of the act and the films for two more years, and then quit both to become a successful film agent. He would always be in Groucho's shadow as a comic, and even in death (soon after Groucho's death in 1977) passed on with hardly any impact on the public. Had he branched out on his own (if anyone had shown interest in such a move) he might have had a chance to show his talents, but it is problematical.


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