Marx Brothers filmsby Hunley | created - 13 Jun 2011 | updated - 13 Jun 2011 | Public
From the best to the least best. (They didn't have a worst (unless you count Love Happy (but we don't, do we?)))
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1. Duck Soup (1933)
Not Rated | 68 min | Comedy, Musical, War
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.
The zaniness is so non-stop that you can barely catch your breath. A classic!
"Well, that covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself. You better beat it - I hear they're going to tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing. You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. You know, you haven't stopped talking since I came here? You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle."
2. A Night at the Opera (1935)
Passed | 96 min | Comedy, Music, Musical
A sly business manager and two wacky friends of two opera singers help them achieve success while humiliating their stuffy and snobbish enemies.
When MGM signed Laurel and Hardy, they didn't know what to do with them. Fortunately, Irving Thalberg had a great vision of how to package the Marx Brothers into a big MGM musical. A fantastic film!
"Hey, you big bully. What's the idea of hitting that little bully?"
3. A Day at the Races (1937)
Not Rated | 111 min | Comedy, Musical, Sport
A veterinarian posing as a doctor and a race-horse owner and his friends struggle to help keep a sanitarium open with the help of a misfit race-horse.
The follow-up to A Night at the Opera is almost as good.
"If I hold you any closer, I'll be in back of you."
4. The Cocoanuts (1929)
Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Musical
During the Florida land boom, The Marx Brothers run a hotel, auction off some land, thwart a jewel robbery, and generally act like themselves.
The staging is very static here, betraying the stage origin of the source material, but the script is so incredibly funny, it doesn't matter.
"Three years ago I came to Florida without a nickel in my pocket. Now I've got a nickel in my pocket."
5. Horse Feathers (1932)
Not Rated | 68 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance
Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley University, accidentally hires bumblers Baravelli and Pinky to help his school win the big football game against the rival Darwin University.
Another excellent script! A college is a perfect setting for their humor. Thelma Todd works well in the absence of Margaret Dumont.
"You know you've got the brain of a four-year old child, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it."
6. Animal Crackers (1930)
G | 97 min | Comedy, Musical
Mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding.
Hooray for Captain Spaulding! So many great routines in this one.
"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know."
7. At the Circus (1939)
Not Rated | 87 min | Comedy, Musical
The Marx Brothers try to help the owner of a circus recover some stolen funds before he finds himself out of a job.
This one doesn't have as good a reputation as the earlier films, but there's still a lot to like, including Groucho singing Lydia the Tattooed Lady!
"You know what I say. Whenever you got business trouble the best thing to do is to get a lawyer. Then you got more trouble, but at least you got a lawyer."
8. Monkey Business (1931)
Not Rated | 77 min | Comedy, Musical
On a transatlantic crossing, The Marx Brothers get up to their usual antics and manage to annoy just about everyone on board the ship.
I enjoy Thelma Todd in this, but the story gets a bit muddled. It's still hilarious.
"Oh, why can't we break away from all this, just you and I, and lodge with my fleas in the hills? I mean... flee to my lodge in the hills."
9. Go West (1940)
Passed | 80 min | Comedy, Musical, Western
The Marx Brothers come to the rescue in the Wild West when a young man, trying to settle an old family feud so he can marry the girl he loves, runs afoul of crooks.
The humor leans far more heavily toward slapstick in this one. It's very funny if you are prepared for that.
"I was going to thrash them within an inch of their lives, but I didn't have a tape measure."
10. Room Service (1938)
Approved | 78 min | Comedy
A penniless theatrical producer must outwit the hotel efficiency expert trying to evict him from his room, while securing a backer for his new play.
This wasn't their own material, so the humor isn't really tailored to their strengths. Despite this, it is funnier to me than most people give it credit for being.
"I still think it's a terrible play, but it makes a wonderful rehearsal."
11. The Big Store (1941)
Not Rated | 83 min | Comedy, Musical
A detective is hired to protect the life of a singer, who has recently inherited a department store, from the store's crooked manager.
The Big Store continues the trend to add more slapstick to their later films which gives Harpo a lot more to do. It was planned as their last film. Moments of comedy greatness are woven into an otherwise weak film.
“Martha, dear, there are many bonds that will hold us together through eternity. Your government bonds, your savings bonds, your liberty bonds.”
12. A Night in Casablanca (1946)
Passed | 85 min | Comedy
The Marx Brothers are employed at a hotel in postwar Casablanca, where a ring of Nazis is trying to recover a cache of stolen treasure.
By Marx Brothers standards, this isn't a great film. If you know that and prepare yourself, there is plenty to laugh at. The last film in which Groucho dons the famous makeup.
"From now on the essence of this hotel will be speed. If a customer askes you for a three-minute egg, give it to him in two minutes. If he askes you for a two-minute egg, give it to him in one minute. If he askes you for a one-minute egg, give him the chicken and let him work it out for himself!"