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|Index||62 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maureen O'Sullivan may very well have been out of place here with the
The antics of our Marx Brothers becomes tedious as the scenes are lengthy in nature.
Everyone though is allowed to portray their specific gifts-Allan Jones singing, Harpo on the harp, Chico on the piano, and Groucho is as zany as ever in this 1937 film.
Margaret Dumont was such a perfect foil. Always playing a society matron, she diversifies here as a chronically complaining woman regarding her health. Douglass Dumbrille makes a fine heavy here.
I love the Marx Brothers, and I like/love their movies. While A Day at
the Races is one of my least favourites of theirs, as it is somewhat
uneven, it is still very entertaining and definitely worth watching.
Why I didn't like A Day at the Races as much as an outing like A Night at the Opera, Horse Feathers or Duck Soup is because it does have some inconsistent support playing. I am not talking about Margaret Dumont for she is sterling as always, I am talking about Allan Jones and Maureen O'Sullivan whose romantic wooings came across as a little too sappy. What hurt the film more though was some of the musical interludes, some work but others miss more than they hit not because they are terrible but because they are too long and slow the film down pretty considerably. Also I would have shortened the film by about 5 or so minutes.
Criticisms aside, it looks great with fine cinematography, lighting and scenery and has good incidental scoring that is both quirky and charming. The dialogue is also very inspired and quotable, and the gags are hilarious. The "Tootsie frootsie ice cream" sketch is for me the best of Groucho/Chico's wordplay routines. And speaking of the Marx Brothers, all three are splendid particularly Groucho who is still quick-witted and a lot of fun to watch.
In conclusion, an entertaining film but not absolutely wonderful. 7/10 Bethany Cox
"A Day At The Races" is generally considered the last great movie that the Marx Brothers gave us, and I also agree that it's better than anything that followed, though all their 1938-1949 movies have their moments and are most definitely worth seeing for their fans. The secret of this film's success is that, although it remains loyal to the MGM formulas (let's face it, the pre-1935 Marxes would hardly care about a young couple in love, much less devote themselves completely into helping them out), it retains most of their anarchic and destructive spirit: from the biggest (Margaret Dumont's unorthodox "examination") to the smallest (Harpo and Chico paying one of their debts by using and re-using the same 5-dollar bill!) comedy bit, there are many hits and almost no misses here. Where the film does miss slightly is in the musical numbers: these are entertaining in their own right, but they feel tacked-on, as if they've come from a different movie altogether. Plus, there are too many of them, and they go on too long, making "A Day At The Races" the longest - by far - Marx Brothers movie (and to think that there were two more full numbers eliminated before release!). Still, this is good zany fun that mostly lives up to its reputation. *** out of 4.
'A Day At The Races' is another laugh riot from the Marx Brothers. Ranging from slapstick to dialogue oriented humour, the story may be uneven and at times it may feel like a series of sketches connected together into one story, this film remains a fun watch. More than 70 years have passed but this is proof that a great comedy will survive and go on for decades. The inclusion of music, such as the song and dance sequences were also a delight to watch. The three brothers display their comedic gifts but for me it is Chico Marx who stands out. Maureen O'Sullivan gives a charming performance and Margaret Dumont is hilarious, especially in her scenes with Groucho. There are several memorable laugh-out-loud scenes but it is the final race sequence that tops them all. Many seem to have a problem with the way black people were portrayed in this film. However, I found that song sequence a sheer delight and perhaps one of the best parts of the movie. Regarding the painted face, I don't think that part was designed to be derogatory or a joke on black people but to show how the stupid authorities (who were searching for the three brothers) fail to see beyond skin colour.
this is probably the best of the Marx Bros films.
but one must pay close attention to the subtleties of dialog and imagery.
there are scenes loaded with subtle humor and if you're not paying attention or savvy on the "vernacular" of the times, you'll miss them.
Groucho is at his best with the twists and turns of language his demonstrates like a master surgeon...well since he is a doctor in the film....
anyway, many other posters on this film blog have listed the best scenes, so i shall not repeat...repeat.
the typical musical diversions are not necessary but for the demands of the studio to make the film have mass appeal.
but of course Chico on the piano is always fun to watch.
and this time Harpo pulls a good with the "piano cum harp." and Miss Dumont certainly puts up with a lot. but in her typical good sport fashion.
this film is not to be missed.
I rate A DAY AT THE RACES a 10 only compared to other non-Marx comedies (as critic James Agee remarked, the worst the Marx's might do would be better worth seeing than almost anything else). As a Marx Brothers movie it's bogged down by long, pointless musical numbers (I'll contradict myself in a moment) and a sappy romantic subplot (remnants of the formula Irving Thalberg devised for the boys in NIGHT AT THE OPERA, but with Thalberg dead it's all formula now and not much else). Then about two thirds of the way through something nearly miraculous happens. The brothers cut lose with the fabulous examination scene, exhibiting all the anarchic genius that made them great, and then following Allan Jones' cloying rendition of "Tomorrow is Another Day" Harpo grabs a flute and goes tootling off to some sort of African American shanty town where he encounters Ivie Anderson, The Crinoline Choir, and Whitie's Lindy Hoppers and the movie just explodes with energy. Many people, as has been pointed out, would consider this sequence "politically incorrect" but since political correctness is mostly the knee-jerk application of 21st century standards to earlier eras that the critics know nothing about I say screw 'em. For maybe ten minutes or so the screen is filled with so much warmth, talent, and exuberance that it nearly brings tears to my eyes. Sure it's got nothing to do with the story and little to do with the Marx Brothers but it is greatness unto itself and it may be the best scene in the movie. And by the way, for those who insist on judging this movie in racial terms the message seems to be that rich white men (Douglas Dumbrille and his flunkies) are evil and heartless and poor black people know that life is about singing and dancing and having fun. Sounds good to me.
The Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico and Harpo, Zeppo left after "Duck Soup) "A Day at the Races" (1937) surpasses "A Night at the Opera" because of its sheer amount of good scenes. For instance, in this picture you have: The Tutsi Fruitsy Ice Cream skit, Chico and Harpo trying to interrupt Dr. Hugo V. Hackenbush's (Groucho) romancing femme fatale (Esther Muir), Groucho's telephone conversation with Whitmore (Leonard Ceeley) and of course the medical examination of Emily Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) by Groucho. One of the reasons I like this film so much is the way it ends up getting rid of the plot and boils down to a series of extremely funny sketches. Not to be missed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is actually my favorite Marx Brothers movie. The reason is due to
the fantastic showcasing of the Harlem Renaissance during the scene
where the Marx Brothers are hiding out from the Sheriff by going to the
part of town where the African Americans live. The result is a
performance of African Americans playing music and doing the Jitterbug
in an absolutely fantastic way, which even today is highly exciting and
entertaining to watch. I am not too sure about this, but this movie may
have been the first time that average Americans had the opportunity to
SEE what the Jitterbug looked like. The Marx Brothers were very bold in
bringing African American culture to a mainstream Hollywood film like
this, and it still is worth watching, just for that reason alone.
The film also has a great moment with Chico doing his special piano playing thing, followed by Harpo taking over and completely destroying the piano, turning it into a harp, which he then plays.
The dialogue is pretty witty - some scenes especially so. And overall it's a great movie and well worth anyone's time to watch.
"A Day at the Races" ranks as only the third best Marx Brothers film,
in my opinion, behind "A Night at the Opera" and "Duck Soup." It does,
however, have the potential of being their best movie. Groucho gets
some of his funniest lines, the most famous being "Either he's dead or
my watch has stopped," but my personal favorite being "Say, you're
rather large for a pill yourself." See the film, and you'll find out
what that means. The sequence in which Chico keeps selling more books
to Groucho proves to be one of the Brothers' all time funniest. Chico
and Harpo's interactions are also very entertaining, as usual. One
thing that brings down the film's overall quality, however, is the long
and useless musical numbers performed about 3/4 of the way through the
film. These drag on for far too long to keep the attention of the
audience. Also, the film slows down a bit in the middle with long,
sustained sequences which really do not benefit the movie. Despite
those shortcomings, this is still one of the funniest movies I've ever
seen, and it's still way better than most of today's crude and
sex-filled comedies. Recommended to Marx Brothers fans and those who
like comedies in general.
***1/2 out of ****
Those crazy brothers are at it again in A Day at the Races, a formulaic follow-up to one of their biggest hits A Night at the Opera. However, this one falls short of matching the witty one-liners or funny sight-gags found in the previous effort. This one follows the same plot line as most of the other ones with Groucho fooling Margaret Doumant into doing anything for him and Harpo and Chico working together to keep something afloat or in business, in this case a sanitarium. There is a romantic subplot with the beautiful Maureen O'Sullivan but the male lead is very stiff and not so likable. What keeps this one together mostly is Groucho who manages to make you laugh in nearly all the scenes he is in. Everyone else is mostly sub par. All in all, this is a fine effort that is certainly one of the Brothers' better efforts, but shows the slow decline they experienced leading to the end of their careers. See it if you're a fan for sure, but don't expect it to be an absolute classic.
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