Mr. Hammer runs a bankrupt Florida hotel. He'll try anything to make money, even make love to rich Mrs. Potter. But his main scheme, selling real estate, is in danger of sabotage from zanies Chico and Harpo, who also reduce the schemes of a pair of jewel thieves to chaos. A subplot involves the star-crossed love of Polly Potter and architect Bob Adams.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first use of the overhead camera shot (from the roof of the sound stage looking down at the dancers forming kaleidoscopic patterns) is usually credited to Busby Berkeley, the Broadway dance director whom Samuel Goldwyn brought to Hollywood to stage numbers for Eddie Cantor comedies. But a year before Busby's appearance on the scene in Whoopee! (1930), the overhead shot is used for the first time in an American sound film in The Cocoanuts. See more »
In the opening scene, Hammer sends Jamison to meet a 4:15 train. When Jamison gets back, he refers to it as a 4:30 train. See more »
Tell me, what are you doing tonight?
Maybe you gotta good idea, huh?
Well, don't you dare come to Room 320 at eleven o'clock.
Awright, I come half-past ten.
See more »
The opening credits are run against a background of negative film of the "Monkey-Doodle-Doo" number. See more »
Great Marx Film - but we'll always regret "Always".
Unless the legendary "HUMORISK" ever shows up, COCONUTS will have the honor of being the first Marx Brother comedy. It is set in Florida, during the 1920s land boom down there (by the time the show opened in 1928, a hurricane had destroyed the land boom). Groucho runs a seedy hotel, where Mrs. Potter and her daughter Polly (Margaret Dumont and Mary Eaton) are residing. So is Polly's boy friend, the architect Bob Adams (Oscar Shaw), as well as black sheep socialite Harvey Yates (Cyril Ring) and Penelope (Kay Francis). Yates needs money, and is trying to marry Polly. Penelope is willing to assist him, as she wants to steal Mrs. Potter's jewelry. Mrs. Potter is favorable to Yates because he is one of "the Boston Yates", but Polly favors Bob - who is still struggling to get any backers for his architectural ideas. Because he is not making money (or from money) Mrs. Potter dislikes his attentions to Polly.
Groucho's Mr. Hammer (and his assistant Jamison - Zeppo) are hoping to sell various lots of real estate to their hotel guests at an auction. Then two new guests arrive: Chico and Harpo. Groucho notices their luggage is empty. "That's okay," says Chico, "It will be full when we leave." Naturally the arrival of Chico and Harpo excites the suspicions of the local sheriff, Hennesy (Basil Ruysdaal).
It is impossible to sensibly discuss the humor of the Marx Brothers, in this their first sound film and one of their zaniest. Just a few choice moments:
Groucho and Chico (as a plant) at the auction, where Chico knows he has to raise the bids. Unfortunately he does not realize when to stop doing so, so that when Hammer frantically tries to stop him from preventing someone with money from buying a lot, Chico keeps ignoring. "I go higher...higher...I have plenty of numbers left!", he says.
Groucho, Chico, and Harpo playing musical rooms with Dumont and Kay Francis, on the night of the jewel robbery. And Francis discovering that her "come-on" line, "Has anyone ever told you you look like the Prince of Wales?", is being used by everyone else.
Even a slightly sad moment is memorable. When Bob is arrested at one point, a tearful Mary Eaton watches this - Harpo walks over to her and hands her a flower. She embraces the silent brother, who just looks perplexed about what else to do.
It is constantly brought up that Eaton and Shaw are drags on the film. Actually Ms Eaton was quite lively when given a chance, and Shaw is game in one of the routines with Groucho and Harpo. Kay Francis would later show a comic flair in movies too, but here she is relatively subdued as far as comedy is concerned (until her last shot with Cyril Ring). Ring is a non-entity. Ruysdaal has one really glorious moment (when he demands his shirt - he can't be happy without his shirt!). And of course, Margaret Dumont got her first chance to show what an asset she was to the Marx Brothers in seven films.
For a musical comedy the surviving songs, mostly by Irving Berlin (one is by Victor Herbert!) are passable only. "When My Dream Comes True" can linger in the memory, but it is not grade-A Berlin. Sadly, Irving composed "Always" for the show, but George Kaufman showed his contempt for the tune and and angry Berlin took it back. A case of pearls before swine there.
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