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I've been a die-hard Marxist for several years now. After I watched
their first seven films to the point where my tapes were in tatters, I
sought out their later films, the lesser productions Room Service thru
Night in Casablanca. After that, I still wanted more, so I finally gave
in and watched the one film that I KNEW would be painful: Love Happy.
Virtually every review has smeared this film and ripped into it with
full claws, so I braced myself and bought the DVD.
Now let me tell you something: this movie is great. Of course it's not in the ballpark of the Paramounts, but it fits nicely with their later films, and is a real delight. So why the negative rap? Well, this movie was originally intended as a solo vehicle for Harpo Marx. Chico joined on when he needed money to get out of debt. Groucho was never supposed to be in this film, but the sponsors said that they wouldn't release it unless he was, so that they could bill it as a "Marx Brothers" picture. So footage of Groucho narrating parts of the story were shoehorned into the finished product. The result? Chico and Harpo are just as enchanting as ever, and Groucho--despite being displayed prominently on the movie posters--is relegated to a commentator. Since most Marx fans are Groucho fans first, Chico/Harpo fans second, this setup comes as a slap in the face, and the film gets trashed.
As such, if you watch the Marxes mainly to see Groucho's witty quips, this movie will bore you stiff. However, if you--like me--love the others just as much as Groucho (for me, Chico will ALWAYS be the funniest Marx Brother!) you'll be surprised at how good Love Happy really is. I'd go into the plot, but with a Marx movie, who really cares about the plot? It's our boys we're after. Chico plays an uproarious piano/violin duet, lusts after Ilona Massey, has some "tootsy-frootsy ice cream" and does some flawed mind-reading; Harpo tumbles through a washing machine, turns his fingers into candles, pulls a dog out of his coat and lusts after Ilona Massey. And Groucho narrates, searches, quips, ponders the situation, and...lusts after Ilona Massey. Oh!--and did I mention this film started the career of a young Marilyn Monroe?
In short, to a Chico/Harpo fan, this movie is as good as (and often better than) At the Circus or A Night in Casablanca. To a Groucho fan...well, that's why we have remote-controls.
"Love Happy" is remembered, primarily, as the last "Official" Marx
Brothers film (they would all appear in brief vignettes in "The Story
of Mankind", seven years later, but not as a team), but if the film
were a baseball statistic, it would have an asterik (*), because it
truly isn't a showcase of the brothers, together, but a comedy starring
Harpo, with Chico in a supporting role, and Groucho doing narration,
and making brief appearances, occasionally (rather like the "General
Electric Theater" TV episode the brothers would do, in 1959, where
Harpo and Chico played crooks with hearts of gold, and Groucho would
make a surprise appearance at the finale, as their lawyer).
As a comedy, "Love Happy" is so-so, with Harpo providing some genuine laughs, particularly during an interrogation scene with villains Raymond Burr, Ilona Massey, Eric Blore, and Bruce Gordon, and in the rooftop finale, with Harpo offering the same kind of outrageous physical humor that he had demonstrated in the classic MGM comedies. But the rest of the plot, while mildly entertaining, is simply a musical variation of "Room Service", as an impoverished group of performers (headed by Paul Valentine and future star Vera-Ellen) struggle to put on a Broadway musical.
The back story of the film is possibly more entertaining than the movie, itself; Harpo had wanted to make a solo film throughout the forties, and had tinkered on the script for several years, while soliciting financial backing for the project. Chico, meanwhile, was running up huge gambling debts, as was often the case (while a brilliant card player, he was a notoriously bad gambler), and just as the Marxes had made "A Night in Casablanca", in 1946, to pay off his debts at that time, Harpo brought him into "Love Happy" to do the same. Unfortunately, the end of the decade was a depressed time for film making (with television making inroads into the ticket-buying public), and backers would only fund the project if all three brothers would appear in the movie.
Groucho, by now a genuine TV star, thanks to the "You Bet Your Life" quiz show, hated the script of "Love Happy", and had little desire to co-star in the film. He was, however, loyal to his brothers, and finally reached a compromise; he would only appear briefly, would not have to wear his trademark greasepaint eyebrows and mustache, and would have final approval of his dialog and the performers working with him. He could honestly say he helped 'discover' Marilyn Monroe, at an open audition (watching two other starlets walk across a stage, followed by Marilyn, when asked for his pick for a small role, he raised his eyebrows and quipped, "You're kidding, right?")
Be warned: While "Love Happy" is not terrible, it certainly is no "Night at the Opera", or "Duck Soup"!
Yes, this movie is sad; it's the end of an era. Bye bye, Marx Brothers;
over half a century later, you still haven't been topped.
However, this movie is not sad in the sense of being pathetic. There's still some laughs here, and on balance, I think this is better than some of the previous Marx efforts ("A Night in Casablanca" and "At the Circus" in particular). Harpo is quite charming (who's not a Harpo fan?), and I remember finding the Central Park scene quite touching. The rooftop chase is a blast, too. Granted, those two scenes are standouts and the rest of the movie is weaker in comparison, but I never found it painfully weak.
Let's put it this way; even mediocre Marx is still okay by me.
I always thought that if I had to pick a worst film of the Marxes, that
this would be it. But, can I ever say I dislike a movie with Groucho,
Harpo, and Chico (and sometimes Zeppo) in it? Hell no! Before I first
saw it years ago, I never heard of it before that and was really glad
that I did, and had to see it. When I finally saw it, I wasn't
disappointed, considering it was their very last official film
together. Most of every comedy team's last films aren't as good as they
used to be, but so what! Enjoy the chance to see them one last time!
Recommended to any Marx Bros. fan!
By the way, note Groucho's mustache and eyebrows in this. They're not the classic grease-paint, he was working on "You Bet Your Life" at the time, and ditched the fake ones.
i'm a big marx bros fan and love most of their films, especially the
early paramounts and a day at the races and most of the others so thats
pretty much all of them i guess. Room service is the weakest of their
output as far as i can tell..
If I was mainly a Groucho fan, which most of the reviewers of Marx Brothers films seem to be, I'd be giving this movie between 1 & 3 stars. His part is minimal, not very funny and is mainly famous for the scene with Marilyn Monroe in one of her first speaking roles (which lasts a few seconds)...
I've just read a review for this film calling it unfunny. Maybe they were watching a different movie? I am completely fed up with reading the nonsense that's been written about this film by people who probably haven't even watched it...
I'm a Harpo fan.........I really think he's a true screen genius, the greatest one of his kind. When he's on screen for me its pure magic.
This film has a special place in my heart.. The screenplay is based on a Harpo story and he is the main star (originally the film was to be a solo vehicle for him). Chico's and Groucho's appearance was an afterthought..Chico performs well and the scenes when he's with Harpo are great and are the equal to any other marx movie. Harpo doesn't disappoint with so many great hilarious scenes that were mainly devised and performed by himself (he did most of his own stunts)...quite amazing considering he was in his early 60's at the time....
The story revolves around a theatre production called 'love happy' and a missing diamond necklace in a sardine tin. The other cast members perform well and the songs are not too cheesy. Chico does a great piano duet with a violinist and harpo plays the harp as beautifully as ever..
If I was hoping to see and hear Groucho in his element, i'd be very disappointed with Love Happy. But, on every other level its a classic. So please, give it a chance - its worth it............
The Marx brothers shtik is on its last legs in this one. Some production trivia mentioned in the Turner Classic Movies airing suggest that 'Love Happy' was intended to be a Harpo vehicle, but the backers weren't going to unless Groucho and Chico were also in. A lot of the Marx vaudeville formula is evident and may seem a bit worn, but Harpo still gets me with his crazy mime and charades. He has a scene with Chico that is pretty comical. The REAL gem in 'Love Happy' is Vera-Ellen's Sadie Thompson dance number. Man, that chic could really move it on high-heels. Wow!
Love Happy is the last movie where the Marx brothers appear together.Harpo is the biggest star of the movie.He gets in a trouble when he steals a sardine can that has Romanoff's diamond inside.Love Happy is good Marx movie.Groucho, Harpo and Chico are as good as they were in their younger days.And you can see Marilyn Monroe in a little part as Groucho's client.A must see for Marx fans, especially Harpo fans.
This day being the one Groucho Marx died 30 years ago, 3 days after Elvis, I decided to watch some of his movies that I either have on tape or just checked at the library. Love Happy, I taped 12 years ago from AMC. This movie came 20 years after Groucho and his brothers' talkie debut in The Cocoanuts. His participation is limited here which is just as well since he doesn't have many funny lines except with the villainous Ilona Massey and, in her brief part, a well-endowed Marilyn Monroe. Says Groucho to her, "Is there anything I can do for you? (turns to audience as he see-saws his eyebrows) What a ridiculous statement!" The story mainly concerns Harpo, as himself, as he steals plenty of sardine cans as they're being thrown at him unknowingly by Eric Blore. One Blore doesn't throw but has stolen unbeknownst from him by Harpo has some valuable diamonds. There's also a plot about a musical show with dancer Vera-Ellen and singer Marion Hutton (Betty's sister) that's for the birds. Best parts of those segments concern Chico's piano playing with violinist Leon Belasco though there's also a sexy Vera-Ellen number that got my temperature rising. Worst parts for me were Chico's wooing of Ms. Massey and Vera-Ellen's constant crying in front of Harpo. Most interesting part was the chase sequence at the end where Harpo rides on lots of billboards in one of the rare instances of product placements of the period. Many of those gags probably came from former animation director Frank Tashlin, a co-writer of the script. While there's one scene with Groucho and Harpo, the one with Chico at the end probably was shot on separate occasions since they don't share that scene together, just a cut to Chico after Grouch calls out to him. So, technically, this isn't really a "Marx Brothers" picture, just Harpo starring with Chico in support and Groucho in an extended cameo. Having not seen The Big Store, I reserve judgment on whether this is the worst movie of their career but Love Happy is certainly one of their lesser ones. P.S. Raymond Burr is one of the henchmen.
Although the critics hate this one, it's a treasure for die-hard Harpo fans. Harpo originally conceived Love Happy as a solo vehicle, but Chico wormed his way in because he needed money to pay gambling debts. Groucho was written in at the last minute to secure more funding from backers who insisted on having all three brothers in the film.
Unfortunately, this movie was my first Marx Brothers movie. (I saw it
in December 1977.) It really isn't a good introduction to the comic
mayhem of the Marx Brothers because it was never intended to be a Marx
Brothers movie in the first place! It was originally a Harpo Marx
movie. But Chico had some debts to pay so he was worked into the
script. Since you cannot have Harpo and Chico without Groucho, Groucho
was also added to the script. Groucho didn't have that much of a part.
But Groucho was so unique that he could generate laughs by saying
anything! "Love Happy" was the movie that marked the end of the Marx
Brothers as a single comedy act. (It would also be the movie that
started Marilyn Monroe's career.)
The movie was very entertaining and it provided more than enough comedy and laughs to qualify as a good comedy. Harpo was great, doing what he was best as doing. The chase was a riot.
For those who were saddened over this movie being the end of the Marx Brothers as a comedy act, this movie also marked the beginning of the Marx Brothers as individuals who would each enjoy his own level of success with Groucho being the most successful with his TV show "You Bet Your Life" in the 1950s and a comeback in the 1970s, touring the country.
After "Love Happy", Harpo would make 9 appearances plus 15 as himself. Chico would make 6 appearances plus 7 as himself. and Groucho would make 13 appearances plus 29 as himself and he would also enjoy success as a writer and one shot as director. That's not bad.
The real tragedy was the 3 Stooges' "Kook's Tour" which really marked the end of the 3 Stooges as an act by featuring them in retirement. "Kooks' Tour" was cut short by Larry's stroke and it marked the end of the 3 Stooges (except for a few personal appearances by Moe as a member of the audience in the 1973 movie "Dr. Death Seeker of Souls" and as himself on "The Mike Douglas Show".)
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