The Phelps Department Store is about to be sold by its new part owner, Tommy Rogers with the permission of Martha Phelps, the dowager co-owner. The current manager doesn't want this as the irregularities in the books will show up. When an attempt is made on Tommy's life, Martha enlists the worst private eye in the world to protect him, Wolf J. Flywheel. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was watching a private screening of this film when he received news that Nazi second-in-command Rudolf Hess had flown to Britain on an unauthorized mission to end the conflict between Britain and Germany during World War II. Churchill decided that the news was so unimportant he ignored it, went back into his screening room and watched the rest of the movie (in "An Evening with Groucho' , Groucho Marx' tells this anecdote but the movie he refers to is Monkey Business (1931)). See more »
When Martha Phelps comes to see Flywheel, he's pretending to talk on the telephone. When he hangs up, he puts the receiver upside-down in the cradle, but in the next shot it's in the normal position. See more »
The Big Store is not one of the Marx Brothers' best films, but it's worth watching once. Groucho still delivers a few good one-liners and insults to Margaret Dumont. Harpo and Chico have some good scenes (watch as an Italian immigrant accuses Chico of mocking his accent!). I actually think that the musical numbers in this one are wonderful, except for those by Tony Rogers, one of the many love interest duds who grace the Brothers' flicks. Maltin's right: The Tenement Symphony is a suicide-inducing number, and easily a low point in all of the Marx Brothers' films, except for the entire running time of Love Happy. But there's a great song and dance number when Groucho first enters the store. You have to catch the woman singing a jazzed-up version of Rock-a-bye Baby; I have never seen a more eerily emotionless visage on a human being. It's creepy and oddly beautiful. Chico and Harpo perform an awesome piano duet. There's also a scene where four young kids play the piano like Chico, which is very charming. And Harpo's harp sequence is pretty good (he plays Mozart on the harp, and then his two reflections accompany him with other, various string instruments). The final chase sequence is rather annoying. The Marx Brothers' fall came about when their films started overutilizing special effects, fast motion, and sound effects to enhance the comedy. Still, The Big Store is not a disaster, by any means. 7/10.
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