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Monkey Business (1931)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 7,887 users  
Reviews: 64 user | 30 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.

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

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The Marx Brothers try to help the owner of a circus recover some stolen funds before he finds himself out of a job.

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The Brian Sisters are also featured in this short.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
(as The Four Marx Brothers)
...
...
...
Zeppo Marx ...
Rockliffe Fellowes ...
Joe Helton (as Rockcliffe Fellowes)
Harry Woods ...
Briggs
...
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:

Monnaie de singe  »

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

The first Marx Brothers film not to feature Margaret Dumont. It was felt she was not "sexy" enough for the part. See more »

Goofs

During the Passport scene, when the brothers try to get off the boat by impersonating Maurice Chevalier, neither Zeppo (the first brother to try) nor Groucho (the third to try), get Chevaliers passport back from the officer in charge, yet Chico and Harpo each have it as they approach the front of the line. See more »

Quotes

Groucho: Afraid? Me? A man who's licked his weight in wild caterpillars? AFRAID? You bet I'm afraid!
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

Referenced in Take the Money and Run (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Daffy Over You
(1930) (uncredited)
Written by Chico Marx and Sol Violinsky
Performed by Harpo Marx on harp
Whistled by Chico Marx
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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