Marx Brothers shifted their allegiance from Paramount to MGM with A Night at the Opera, their most commercially successful venture. This was also the first film not to feature Zeppo, the fourth Marx, and thus the team of brothers officially became a trio instead of a quartet. Unlike the incredible and anarchic political satire in the garb of high farce, viz. Duck Soup, arguably their greatest artistic accomplishment, this was a rather apolitical affair and more in the tradition of “pure” comedy. The film has Groucho as a wily promoter who is after the money of a wealthy patroness who is desperate to make her way into elite social circles. An opportunistic German businessman signs a pompous tenor for his debut in the US, much to the dim-witted lady’s delight. Meanwhile Chico has become the manager of a talented tenor looking for a break, and illegally boards the ship bound for America. With the laconic Harpo thrown in for good measure, the Marx brothers create the sort of pandemonium that only they could, and the hilarious berserk that ensues makes a mockery of the best laid plans for those in charge. Groucho’s trademark one-liners, wry humour, straight-faced witticisms and cynical retorts made for some of the funniest banters. He, along with the zany Harpo and the eccentric Chico, made this madcap and irreverent comedy a delightful watch. Some of the most memorable sequences include, Groucho and Chico’s absurdist debate over a contract, hordes of men and women randomly being invited into Groucho’s tiny cabin in the ship, a hilarious dinner order, the fooling of an investigating officer in a hotel room, and the gravity-defying rampage in the climax.
Director: Sam Wood
Genre: Comedy/Screwball Comedy/Slapstick Comedy/Musical/Showbiz Comedy