Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Night at the Opera

Sam Wood, 1935, bw (7.5*)
This Marx Brothers gem features probably their most famous scene: the stateroom on the ocean liner that is a phone booth to begin with (Groucho’s line) and they cram about 15 people in, from stowaways to maids to waiters, who fall out when Margaret Dumont (yes, she's on hand, thankfully) opens the door. However, like kissing scenes in your Saturday westerns growing up (when kids would actually boo in the theater!), this has some lengthy and pointless musical numbers to wait out before the comedic pace returns. Admitted that Chico had a humorous style on the piano and did his numbers in one take, but Harpo on harp is always tedious, and this also has some operetta-like songs and dances that do nothing for the Marx style except slow it down. In the better Duck Soup, the musical numbers were zany and made sense to the plot, “Hooray for Captain Spalding” was actually nominated for an Oscar. Still, one of their best in the comedy parts.
Quote: “That’s the sanity clause” – “You can’t a-foola me, there ain’t no sanity clause!”

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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