85 – A Night At The Opera (1935)

Otis B. Driftwood: Hey you. I told you to slow that nag down. On account of you I almost heard the opera.


Seen Before?

R: No, this was my first time watching a Marx brothers film.

F: Same here.



R: A lot of the oldies on the list so far I’ve found funnier than I expected, but this film didn’t make me laugh as much as I hoped it would.

F: I agree it isn’t as funny as I perhaps wanted it to be. However, more than any of the others I can see why this film, and the Marx Brothers themselves, were so popular. I can genuinely see cinema crowds in hysterics whilst watching this film, even if it didn’t have that effect on me.

R: Yes you can imagine back when the jokes were a little fresher they would have landed a lot harder. And we did watch this stone cold sober at the end of a long weekend, so maybe we weren’t as predisposed to the LOLs as we could have been. What was your favourite scene?

F: The very famous scene with everyone crowding into Groucho’s cabin is very well done. Although it is one of those moments that I feel I’ve seen before even though I know I haven’t! That and the scene where they keep moving the beds around to confuse the policeman. How about you? 

R: I enjoyed the scene where the stowaways sneak out to join the party on the deck of the ship. The piano playing there really is quite something. But even the scenes I enjoyed often felt like they were slightly longer than they needed to be, and in spite of the relatively short running time, the whole film dragged a little for me.

F: It didn’t drag so much for me. I was enjoying watching them as they are clearly all very talented performers. I enjoyed how each of the Marx brothers had a clear character: Groucho’s the witty one, Chico’s the dim-witted one and Harpo provides the slapstick.

R: I agree that there can be no doubting their talent as performers, I’m just not convinced that they’re better deployed in a film than they would be in a variety or sketch show. I understand their earlier work was a lot more anarchic and less structured and I think that would probably suit them better. The plot here – what there is of it – often seems to get in the way rather than enhance their performances.

F: For example?

R: I was not at all invested in the love story between the two boring opera singers, and it wasn’t a source of many laughs either.

F: The love story was boring I agree. I do think that no plot at all would be too chaotic for my liking and although this was farfetched, I did enjoy the set up. 

R: I disagree. For me, the chaos is the best bit.

 F: Well we have another Marx Brothers film to come (Duck Soup) which is an earlier film and so may be more to your taste!


Is it worthy of the top 100?

R: I think this is one for historians and hardcore movie buffs only. It’s a no from me.

F: It’s a no from me too. But I am looking forward to Duck Soup now with more Marx Brothers on the list.


Up next:
84 – Easy Rider (1969)
86 – Platoon (1986)

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