- SKU: 2517106
- Release Date: 02/02/2010
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Ratings & Reviews
- Disc 1, Side A: Commentary by the Marx Brothers Encyclopedia author Glenn Mitchell
- Featurette On Your Marx, Get Set, Go!
- Vintage Robert Benchley short
- A Night at the Movies
- Classic cartoons Gallopin' gals, Mama's New Hat and Old Smokey
- Audio-only bonuses: musical outtake a Message From the Man in the Moon and Leo is on the Air radio promo
- Theatrical trailer
- Disc 1, Side B: Vintage Joe McDoakes short
- So You Think You're a Nervous Wreck
- Classic cartoon Acrobatty Bunny
- Disc #2, Side A: Vintage short Party Fever
- Classic cartoon the Daffy Doc
- Disc #2, Side B: Vintage short Dog Daze
- Classic cartoon
- Jitterbug Follies
- Closed Captioned
Night at the Movies
A Night in Casablanca
After a five-year absence, the Marx Brothers returned to the screen in the independently-produced effort A Night in Casablanca. Originally conceived as a parody of Casablanca (with character names like "Humphrey Bogus" and "Lowen Behold"), the film emerged as a spoof of wartime melodramas in general. Someone has been methodically murdering the managers of the Hotel Casablanca, and that someone is escaped Nazi war criminal Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman). Disguised as a Count Pfefferman, Stubel intends to reclaim the stolen art treasures that he's hidden in a secret room somewhere in the hotel, and the only way he can do this undetected is by bumping off the managers and taking over the hotel himself. The newest manager of Hotel Casablanca is former motel proprietor Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx), who, blissfully unaware that he's been hired only because no one else will take the job, immediately takes charge in his own inimitably inept fashion. Corbacchio (Chico Marx), owner of the Yellow Camel company, appoints himself as Kornblow's bodyguard, aided and abetted by Stubel's mute valet Rusty (Harpo Marx). In his efforts to kill Kornblow, Stubel dispatches femme fatale Beatrice Reiner (Lisette Verea) to romance the lecherous manager, leading to a hilarious recreation of a key comedy sequence in the Marxes' earlier A Day at the Races. Arrested on a trumped-up charge, Kornblow, Corbacchio and Rusty escape in time to foil Stubel and his stooges. As in most Marx Brothers epics, A Night in Casablanca includes a tiresome romantic subplot, this time involving disgraced French flyer (Pierre) and his faithful sweetheart Annette (Lois Collier). Though hampered by listless direction and witless one-liners, A Night in Casablanca contains enough hilarity to compensate for its many flaws; some of the best visual gags were conceived by an uncredited Frank Tashlin, including Harpo's legendary "holding up the building" bit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The Daffy Doc
Booted out of an operation for his zany behavior, Dr. Daffy Duck decides to prove his worth by dragging Porky Pig off the street and forcing him to be his patient. The film's centerpiece is Daffy's encounter with an iron lung, which so "pixillates" him that he imagines a consultation with several clones of himself before operating on Porky. This bit also sets up the classic closing gag, with Porky and Daffy expanding and contracting like balloons. (Unfortunately, all references to the artificial lung have been censored from the colorized version of this black-and-white cartoon, rendering several gags incomprehensible!) ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Once again, Our Gang members Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Tommy "Butch" Bond are bitter rivals for the affections of little Darla Hood. The nerdish Waldo (Darwood Kaye) comes up with a solution: Alfalfa and Butch will compete for the title of Junior Mayor during Boys' Week, and whichever one wins will earn the honor of escorting Darla to the annual Strawberry Festival. But despite the strenuous efforts of both young candidates, a "dark horse" wins not only the election, but also the girl. Originally released on August 27, 1938, the one-reel Our Gang comedy Party Fever was among the earliest directorial efforts of George Sidney (The Harvey Girls, Show Boat, Bye Bye Birdie). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
A Day at the Races
A Day at the Races was the Marx Brothers' follow-up to their incomparable A Night at the Opera. Groucho Marx is cast as Hugo Z. Hackenbush, a veterinarian who passes himself off as a human doctor when summoned by wealthy hypochondriac Emily Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) to take over the financially strapped Standish Sanitarium. Chico Marx plays the sanitarium's general factotum, who works without pay because he has a soft spot for its owner, lovely Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan). Harpo Marx portrays a jockey at the local racetrack, constantly bullied by the evil Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille), who will take over the sanitarium if Judy can't pay its debts. After several side-splitting routines--Chico selling Groucho tips on the races, Chico and Harpo rescuing Groucho from the clutches of femme fatale Esther Muir, all three Marxes conducting a lunatic "examination" of Margaret Dumont--the fate of the sanitarium rests on a Big Race involving Hi-Hat, a horse belonging to the film's nominal hero, Allan Jones. Virtually everything that worked in "Opera" is trotted out again for "Races", including a hectic slapstick finale wherein the Marxes lay waste to a public event. What is missing here is inspiration; perhaps this is due to the fact that MGM producer Irving Thalberg, whose input was so essential to the success of "Opera", died during the filming of "Races". Even so, Day at the Races made more money than any other previous Marx Brothers film--the result being that MGM, in the spirit of "they loved it once", would continue recycling Races' best bits for the studio's next three Marx vehicles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
At the Circus
A distinct letdown from their previous MGM films, the Marx Bros.' At the Circus nonetheless contains intermittent moments of high hilarity. When Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker) is in danger of losing his circus to crooked creditor Carter (James Burke), Jeff's faithful roustabout Antonio (Chico Marx) enlists the aid of seedy attorney J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx). Despite the best efforts of Loophole, Antonio and general hanger-on Punchy (Harpo Marx), Jeff is robbed of the circus payroll by two flies in the ointment, Goliath the Strong Man (Nat Pendleton) and Little Professor Atom (Jerry Marenghi, later known as Jerry Maren). Also in on the plot to wrest control of the circus is aerialist Peerless Pauline (Eve Arden), with whom Loophole has a cozy tete-a-tete while walking on the ceiling (no kidding!) In a last-ditch effort to raise the necessary funds, Loophole romances Jeff's wealthy aunt Mrs. Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont). The finale takes place at a fancy society party at the Dukesbury mansion, with Punchy and Antonio hijacking the scheduled entertainment and replacing it with a full-fledged circus performance. Weighed down by an excess of plot and a surfeit of misfire gags, not to mention one of sappiest romantic subplots in film history (involving sappy tenor Kenny Baker and sappier ingenue Florence Rice), At the Circus still keeps audiences happy with Groucho's rendition of the deathless "Lydia the Tatooed Lady" (by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg) and the zany denoument, wherein pompous conductor Fritz Feld and his orchestra are set adrift in the middle of the ocean and the magnificent Margaret Dumont is shot out of a cannon. Best gag: When Eve Arden stuffs the circus payroll into her blouse, Groucho turns to the camera and whispers "There must be some way of getting that money back without offending the Hays Office." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
So You Think You're a Nervous Wreck
Mama's New Hat
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