Night At The Opera

Overly Reductive Plot Summary

Groucho plays Mr. Driftwood, a professional schmoozer to a rich widow. When she becomes interested in donating to the opera, Groucho orchestrates a whirlwind of nonsense in an effort to ensure his ill-earned cash flow isn't hampered. What follows are shenanigans, monkeyshines, hi-jinks and tomfoolery of the first order. Oh, and some opera.

Significant For...

Hailing from the era when a straight line could be drawn between crowd-lather Vaudevillian entertainment and cinema.

The Entire Film In 3 Images

groucho.jpg

Elements Of The Film (Ranked On A Phony-Baloney Beard Scale of 1 to 5)

  1. What might have been a breakneck pace upon its release is positively prosaic by today's standards. Undoubtedly, the most common sentence in the shooting script was "Hold for laughter."
  2. The film is without heroes. We root for the Marx Brothers not because they're noble or ambitious or right-hearted, but because they're funny. This would be a bigger problem if the movie had more than a threadbare, nigh incomprehensible plot. The less thought put into this movie, the better.
  3. There's something dark and imposing about Chico. All three brothers are intense, but he is the only one that feels imposing.
  4. Harpo is very much a living cartoon character. The above still is of him watching an opera performance. That's how he relaxes.
  5. There are plenty of show-stopping bits in this film (Groucho's over-crowded cabin, the 5-minute contract review with a killer punchline, redressing an apartment), but nothing comes close to the breathless acrobatics of Harpo slinging and swinging through the rafters backstage at the opera. The physical dexterity is made all the more resonant as a counterpoint to his improvisational piece for harp, which slowed the film down to a meditative crawl not 30 minutes prior.

Final Verdict

Every inch a classic! The level of skill on display in this film is towering - The Marx Brothers treated the audience to wordplay, razor-sharp dialog, physical comedy, music and, as much as they could squeeze it in, pensive beauty.