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A Day at the Races
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Reviews & Ratings for
A Day at the Races More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not the Marx Brothers best, but still very good

8/10
Author: Robert Short (roberts@interactive.rogers.com) from Ontario, Canada
9 May 2002

The Marx Brothers second film for MGM follows a more traditional presentation in terms of the story line than their earlier films made for Paramount Studios (and is certainly less manic) but there are still moments of inspired lunacy, such as the first racetrack encounter between Chico and Groucho, the midnight rendezvous and the medical examination scene with constant Marx foil Margaret Dumont. Certainly not their best film (which was undeniably "Duck Soup"), but still very good indeed.

Much has been said about the intrusiveness of the romantic subplot between pretty ingenue Maureen O'Sullivan and Allan Jones, and the musical numbers. Such elements were generally typical of MGM comedies at the time, and as such, simply have to be tolerated - although they do detract a little from the overall film (as anything that takes away time from the Marx Brothers themselves will). Jones had a fine tenor voice, but his songs don't really add anything to the movie, and his acting ability was always limited at best. The water ballet sequence (although very pretty) was totally unnecessary, and probably should have been cut, instead of the "I'm Doctor Hackenbush" number, which, as sung by Groucho, was probably a gem (unfortunately this segment, cut just after the film's initial release in 1937, is now believed to have been destroyed). I do like, however, the "All God's Chillun" number, which genuinely has rhythm, bounce and excitement (racial sensibilities aside - as in many motion pictures of the time, the portrayal of blacks was very stereotypical, and could certainly be viewed as racist today; I don't believe such portrayals in the 1930's and 1940's films were intentionally racially motivated).

Overall, there is enough of the Marx special brand of madness to satisfy any fan.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Down the Stretch We Go

8/10
Author: Mike-764 (michaelnella@yahoo.com) from Flushing, NY
8 February 2001

Judy Standish is about to lose her sanitarium to crooked hotel owner Morgan, until Mrs. Upjohn agrees to help her financial because her favorite doctor, Hugo Z. Hackenbush agrees to take over the sanitarium. In reality though Hackenbush is a horse doctor, with a passion for the nearby race track. Add in Judy's boyfriend Gil and his horse High Hat which is rode by Harpo. At times in this one there is to much script and not enough gags, but this movie does contain some hilarious scenes. ( Tootsie-Frootsie Ice Cream, Groucho impersonating a southern belle secretary and a down south general, and wallpapering Esther Muir to the wall ). Also Dorothy Dandridge has a bit part in the barn scene. Rating- 8 out of 10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not their best, but still pretty good.

8/10
Author: Robert Ciccotosto from Palmyra, NJ
9 October 2000

A Day at the Races was made after A Night at the Opera, and it isn't as good a film. It also pales in comparison with earlier Marx Brothers films like Duck Soup and Horse Feathers. Nevertheless, it is still a very entertaining picture, with some very funny sequences. The scene with Chico selling Groucho the race tips must rank as one of the group's best. All in all, well worth seeing if you are a fan of the Marx Brothers or a comedy fan in general.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Getta Your Tuttsi Frutsi Ice Cream and go see this Marx's brother movie. It's pretty funny!

7/10
Author: ironhorse_iv from United States
9 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's hard not to go crazy with the Marx Brothers. Their movies are just hilarious nutty, even with today standards. Their jokes never really get old. The brothers are at the top of their game in terms of their own comic material and timing. The film has some of the trio's funniest and most memorable bits. They even got to fit in Groucho and Chico's famous "Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream" sketch from their vaudeville days. You might as well, put me in a straitjacket, because I will always be dying with laughter when they're on the screen. This movie was made during the Marx Brother's biggest commercial success, post Zeppo. Directed by Sam Woods, the same director from their previous film, 1935's A Night at the Opera, the movie story pretty much follow closely to that of 'A Night at the Opera'. They're almost the same plot. Instead, of saving the opera; instead the Marx Brothers have to save a sanitarium owned by Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan). Her sanitarium is under threat of being taken over by unscrupulous businessman, J. D Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille), who wants to demolish it and expand his real estate monopoly. The only hope for Judy is if she can keep the wealthy hypochondriac Mrs. Emily Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) as a permanent patient and sign papers to financial the place. The only problem, she only willing to stay if the sanitarium hires her favorite doctor, Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush (Groucho Marx). Unfortunately for Mrs. Upjohn and the sanitarium, Hackenbush is actually just a veterinarian con-artist who spent most of the film trying to avoid being caught out by either Morgan' cronies, the Florida Medical Board or Mrs. Upjohn. Meanwhile, Judy's boyfriend, Gil (Allan Jones) with his friend, Tony (Chico Marx) hopes to win the money for the sanitarium in a horse-race with a former jockey, Stuffy (Harpo Marx) and his mediocre horse. Who will win first? Morgan and his men or the Marx Brothers? Watch it to find out! Without spoiling too much, the Marx Brothers are pretty much, playing their stereotypical stage act selves in their roles. There's Groucho that has the anarchic wise guy with the drawn-on moustache. He has some of the funniest zingers, insults, and comebacks. Then there is Chico who plays likable Italian stereotype in every role. He has some funny bits, here. Last is Harpo, the mute, childish, slightly annoying one, there for kid appeal. Don't look for anything new from them. They just going what talent, got them to the show. The movie story isn't that great as well. It's often very complex, and doesn't mixed well with others sub-plots. It's hard to tell, where this movie is going for. Is it a horse racing movie or a movie about keeping a sanitarium open? While, the jokes don't feel dated. The concept seem old. Groucho, Chico, and Harpo helping out at a sanatorium seem pretty weird to think of today. It's even odd to note that the sanitarium in the film is right near the race track. How is that even possible? Anyways, the movie seem to get weirder as the movie puts a lot of variety acts between the comedy bits to serve as filler scenes such as a blue-tinted ballet sequence, Harpo playing the Harp, Chico playing the piano, and love songs from crooner Allan Jones. All are quite good, but was it really needed for the plot. No. The musical segment toward the end where Harpo leads a group of poor black folks in a rendition of "Gabriel Blow Your Horn" is questionable. This might be a hard watch for some people, due to the fact that the poor black folks in question played upon the most stereotyped portrayal of black people at the time. The movie portray them as poor, uneducated, jive-talkers with a love of jazz music. It doesn't help that brothers themselves get in on the offensive act by dousing their faces in oil in an attempt to blend in. The Marx Brothers' performing in black face will make some people cringe, due to how dated and offensive, it seems to be. The best thing to come from that part is Ivie Anderson and The Crinoline Choir seeing "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm"! She can indeed sing. Two more songs were filmed, but cut for timing. One was, "Dr. Hackenbush", by Groucho about what a great doctor he is. The other, "A Message from The Man In The Moon", sung by Allan Jones. Like their previous MGM feature A Night at the Opera, this film was a major hit. Despite the Thalberg films' success, MGM terminated the brothers' contract in 1937; Thalberg had died suddenly during filming of A Day at the Races, leaving the Marx Brothers without an advocate at the studio. After Thalberg's death the studio never gave the proper care to the Marx Brothers, and the three movies made at MGM afterward are considered to be far low-grade than the first two as a result. Most copies of the film are pretty good copies. There are hardly any grains or film dirt. The DVD release is in HD and worth checking out. It has tons of special features, worth watching. Overall: While, it's not quite as good as its predecessor, A Night at the Opera, this is still a highlight in the Marxian filmography. It's a must watch.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

hilarious

9/10
Author: drystyx from United States
15 May 2007

The Marx Brothers were the Beatles of comedy. And you could take any of a number of their films, and it would be funnier than anything produced in the last twenty years. This is a good example They play their usual selves. Groucho is the authority figure who is just as big a cheat and fake as Chico, who is the poor bum scheming to get ahead, and the great Harpo is the silent bum who is so much like a child. Dumont is the usual high society lady who Groucho antagonizes. And now we have the stunningly beautiful Maureen O'Sullivan playing the heroine. All we need now are gags. And they deliver. There's the scene where Groucho, Chico, and Harpo prepare for an examination, the scene where Groucho acts like different people on a telephone call with a bad guy. The "tutti frutti" scene. Plenty of great scenes. This has a plot, by the way. Saving a sanitarium from being taken over by a bad guy. As usual, logic does not become involved. Just great gags that make you roll over laughing, done by the masters.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"Why, I didn't know there was a thing the matter with me till I met him."

5/10
Author: classicsoncall from United States
18 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"A Day at the Races" gets off to a start in the Standish Sanitarium, and that should tell you something about this Marx Brothers movie. Perennial hypochondriac Emily Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) may provide the financial key to solvency for owner Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan), but only if experienced and trusted psychiatrist Hugo Z. Hackenbush (Groucho) can be persuaded to take over. Translate that horse doctor Hackenbush, who in the course of the film is conned by Chico in a version of the "tootsie fruitsie" scam, gets plastered by both Chico and Harpo as he woos blonde troublemaker Flo (Esther Muir), and dons black face grease along with both brothers in the finale of an all black musical number featuring "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm".

As others have noted in their postings, the musical numbers can get tedious, and for his part, Groucho doesn't have his way with the one liners as effectively as in some of the Marx Brothers' more appreciated films. But the maniacal frenzy is still there, punctuated by the horse race finale of the title, appropriately sealing the fate of the sanitarium in a twist when jockey Harpo loses his horse "High Hat" to an aggressive jockey who winds up taking him across the finish line.

There is one particular scene though in the "Winter Carnival" interlude that amazed me, as dancer Vivien Fey literally turns into a spinning top, encircling the dance floor in a blur. I've seen it done on a pair of skates, but to see it performed by Fey on tiptoe was truly incredible - and at the finish she was still standing!

Oh, and lest I forget, the romantic subplot to the story involves Maureen O'Sullivan and Allan Jones in an off again, on again relationship that doesn't really serve to move the story along other than Jones' character providing the financial backing for "High Hat", but with the Marx Brothers involved, the outcome of the race is never in jeopardy.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Day at the Races- Worth Keeping Track On ***

Author: edwagreen from United States
25 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maureen O'Sullivan may very well have been out of place here with the British accent.

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.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great Musical Scenes!

10/10
Author: saukkomies from United States
30 August 2008

*** 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.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"...and...they're off!!"

Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
6 March 2003

A DAY AT THE RACES (1937) **** The Marx Brothers running amok at the horse races with some brilliantly funny dialogue and outrageous bits of physical comedy, respectively by Groucho, Chico and Harpo. One of their best.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One of the best Marx Brothers films!!

9/10
Author: anton-6 from sweden
20 June 2001

Boring song numbers by Allan Jones but still it´s VERY VERY VERY funny. This was the first Marx Brothers film I saw and I have love it all since. Not as good as the comic masterpiece A night at the opera.

rating: 4+ out of 5

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