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The Big Store (1941)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Musical | 20 June 1941 (USA)
A detective is hired to protect the life of a singer, who has recently inherited a department store, from the store's crooked manager.


Charles Reisner (as Charles Riesner)


Sid Kuller (screen play), Hal Fimberg (screen play) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Groucho Marx ... Wolf J. Flywheel
Chico Marx ... Ravelli
Harpo Marx ... Wacky
Tony Martin ... Tommy Rogers
Virginia Grey ... Joan Sutton
Margaret Dumont ... Martha Phelps
Douglass Dumbrille ... Mr. Grover
William Tannen ... Fred Sutton
Marion Martin ... Peggy Arden
Virginia O'Brien ... Kitty
Henry Armetta ... Guiseppi
Anna Demetrio ... Maria
Paul Stanton ... George Hastings
Russell Hicks ... Arthur Hastings
Bradley Page ... Duke


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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The big new musical comedy! (Newspaper ad cut). See more »


Comedy | Musical


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Although William Tannen is credited as "Fred Sutton" in the movie's credits, he is called "Chris" by others in the movie. See more »


When Flywheel is getting down into the car, we can see him standing up to get down, in the next shot he is sitting and is standing again to get down. See more »


Martha Phelps: Tell me, what would you want to handle this case for me?
Wolf J. Flywheel: Twenty thousand dollars.
Martha Phelps: Don't you think that's too much?
Wolf J. Flywheel: Of course it is, only a cheap chiseler would ask that much.
Martha Phelps: I was prepared to pay five hundred dollars.
Wolf J. Flywheel: Hardly enough. Eh, I'm prepared to take it. Shall we bind the deal with a kiss? Or, five dollars in cash? You lose either way.
See more »


References The Cohens and Kellys (1926) See more »


Piano Sonata No. 15 in C major, K. 545 (Sonata semplice)
(1788) (uncredited)
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Played on the harp by Harpo Marx
See more »

User Reviews

Not great, but has its moments
21 December 2001 | by zetesSee all my reviews

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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English | Italian

Release Date:

20 June 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bargain Basement See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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