Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff has just been installed as the new president of Huxley College. His cavalier attitude toward education is not reserved for his son Frank, who is seeing the college widow, Connie Bailey. Frank influences Wagstaff to recruit two football players who hang out in a speakeasy, in order to beat rival school Darwin. Unfortunately, Wagstaff mistakenly hires the misfits Baravelli and Pinky. Finding out that Darwin has beaten him to the "real" players, Wagstaff enlists Baravelli and Pinky to kidnap them, which leads to an anarchic football finale. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
HORSE FEATHERS, the fourth of the five Paramount Marx Brother Movies, is one of their best - tackling the world of higher education in America. Groucho is the latest of the Presidents of Huxley College, which is doing very badly (apparently) not because of poor scholastic standards but due to not having a successful football team. His son (Zeppo!) steers him toward solving this issue, but with typical Groucho ineptness he thinks the two semi-professional football players he is looking for are Harpo and Chico. He proceeds to regret his own mistake, until the climactic football game.
The music numbers of this film are well remembered, particularly Groucho's introduction ("I'M AGAINST IT!") and "Everyone Says I love you". The latter was sung to the anti-heroine of the story, Thelma Todd in her second and last film with the brothers. Thelma plays the "college widow", a popular fictional figure in early 20th Century American humor - a euphemism for an ever-ready widow of a college professor who was there to have sex with students or the staff. George Ade, the humorist who wrote FABLES IN SLANG, wrote a play called "THE COLLEGE WIDOW" in the teens of the 20th Century. Thelma is certainly effective as the vamp trying to help David Landau (President of Darwin College) get the football signals of Huxley College. Her scenes with Groucho and Chico are quite funny. Chico is playing the piano and she sings. She says she has a falsetto voice. Chico says that's all right, his aunt has a false set of teeth. And Groucho, when taking Thelma for a boat trip throws her a lifesaver (literally), while returning with a duck who interrupted his singing.
The final football game is the second best spoof of college football on film (the one in Harold Lloyd's THE FRESHMAN is a better one). In the end we see the boys demolish football huddles, football signals, even hot dogs (poor Nat Pendleton).
A delightful antique, it is well worth watching. This is one film I'm not against.
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