Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Night at the Opera


Released in November, 1935, the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera is quite simply the funniest movie ever made. Groucho, Chico and Harpo (sans Zeppo - though I really like Zeppo) were at the peak of their powers, and as everyone knows, there's only one way to go from there.

Jumping from Paramount to MGM, they now had fabulous budgets to make films that looked a lot less like stage plays put on film. It also meant they were obligated to put show-stopping (or to put it another way, funny-halting) musical numbers in, which only works in this, their first film because those numbers included Alone - which, again, I really like, as performed by Kitty Carlisle and the guy they picked to stand in for Zeppo. It's a beautiful love song and I paid to download it from iTunes. There's also all those great numbers in the racially offensive, big-goomba-Italian party scene.

The worst part (and I know, this is well-trod ground) is that the Brothers' Marx would no longer be crazy anarchists tearing down whoevers world it is the movie takes place in (college, high society, Fredonia) but instead neutered clowns performing in the service of someone else's dream.

Still. The crowded cabin scene, the contract, rearranging the hotel suite, Take Me Out to the Ballgame - and my favorite quote:
You're willing to pay him a thousand dollars a night just for singing? Why, you can get a phonograph record of Minnie the Moocher for 75 cents. And for a buck and a quarter, you can get Minnie.

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