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Monkey Business
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Release Date:
19 September 1931 (USA) See more »
On a transatlantic crossing, the Marx brothers get up to their usual antics and manage to annoy just about everyone on board the ship. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
(20 articles)
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User Reviews:
Zeppo's best Marx Brother Film See more (70 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

The Marx Brothers (as The Four Marx Brothers)

Groucho Marx ... Groucho

Harpo Marx ... Harpo

Chico Marx ... Chico
Zeppo Marx ... Zeppo
Rockliffe Fellowes ... Joe Helton (as Rockcliffe Fellowes)
Harry Woods ... Briggs

Thelma Todd ... Lucille
Ruth Hall ... Mary Helton
Tom Kennedy ... Gibson
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eddie Baker ... Ship's Officer (uncredited)

Bobby Barber ... Hoarse Barber Customer (uncredited)

Billy Barty ... (uncredited)
Billy Bletcher ... Man in Deck Chair (uncredited)
Eddie Borden ... Joe (uncredited)
James Bradbury Jr. ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Maxine Castle ... Opera Singer at Party (uncredited)

Maurice Chevalier ... Singer (voice) (uncredited)
Davison Clark ... Passport Official (uncredited)
Cecil Cunningham ... Madame Swempski (uncredited)
Bobby Dunn ... Gangster (uncredited)
Al Flosso ... Punch and Judy Puppeteer (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Indian's Wife at Party (uncredited)
Otto Fries ... Ship's 2nd Officer (uncredited)
Sherry Hall ... Reporter (uncredited)
Pat Harmon ... Indian at Party (uncredited)
Ethan Laidlaw ... Cabbie at Barn (uncredited)
Wilfred Lucas ... Extra (uncredited)
Sam Marx ... Boat Passenger / Man at Quayside at Arrival (uncredited)
Charlotte Mineau ... Emily (uncredited)
Harold Minjir ... Emily's Lover (uncredited)
William H. O'Brien ... Waiter (uncredited)
Evelyn Pierce ... Manicurist (uncredited)
Cyril Ring ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Constantine Romanoff ... Butch (uncredited)
Rolfe Sedan ... Barber #2 (uncredited)
Frederick Sullivan ... Pickpocket Victim #1 (uncredited)
Ben Taggart ... Capt. Corcoran (uncredited)
Leo White ... Barber #1 (uncredited)
Leo Willis ... Gangster (uncredited)

Directed by
Norman Z. McLeod  (as Norman McLeod)
Writing credits
S.J. Perelman (by) and
Will B. Johnstone (by)

Arthur Sheekman (additional dialogue)

J. Carver Pusey  contributing writer (uncredited)
Al Shean  contributing writer (uncredited)

Produced by
Herman J. Mankiewicz .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
John Leipold (uncredited)
Ralph Rainger (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Arthur L. Todd (photographed by)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles Barton .... first assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Harry Caplan .... props (uncredited)
Harvey Parry .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Daniel L. Fapp .... camera operator (uncredited)
Other crew
Al Flosso .... puppeteer: "Punch" and "Judy" (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
77 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Australia:G | Finland:S (1976) | Finland:K-16 (1932) | Spain:T | Sweden:Btl | UK:U | USA:Unrated | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #2720-R, 26 September 1936)

Did You Know?

Cameo: [Sam Marx]The Marx Brothers' father is sitting on the crates behind them after they're carried off the ship.See more »
Continuity: 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 »
Gibson, First Mate:Who are you?
Groucho:I'm the tailor.
Gibson, First Mate:Oh, that reminds me, where are my pants?
Groucho:You've got 'em on.
See more »
Movie Connections:
PizzicatoSee more »


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32 out of 35 people found the following review useful.
Zeppo's best Marx Brother Film, 21 May 2005
Author: theowinthrop from United States

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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