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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Movie Time: Rewind: Animal Crackers

Hey all,

Thought I would post the next installment of movie time rewind here, highlighting great films made before the year of my birth, 1976.

Many times old films that were set in the modern day have a hard time transferring their relevance into today's modern movie watcher. Drama's and action adventure pieces, unless set in a period, don't have the same flair that our current films do. Some genre's, like the musical have only recently come back into relevance. The genre that I think holds up best is comedy.

If somethings funny, it's going to remain that way. That's why my recommendation today is one of my favorite comedies, 1930's Animal Crackers starring the Marx Bros. Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, made many films throughout the end of the 1920's and into the early 40's, and while most consider the political satire of Duck Soup to be their best film, I always laughed more at Animal Crackers.

The basic premise is that Groucho is an African explorer who is being honored at a fancy reception, and Harpo and Chico are there as members of the entertainment. A famous painting is to be unveiled but it's stolen and hi-jinks ensure. Groucho is whip fire with the one liners, and Chico is truly a gifted piano player, as per his hilarious bit with him playing the same ending part of the song over and over because he can't remember how it ends. The film is rife with great songs, such as Groucho's "Hello I must be going" song which he would later use on his 1950's game show, You Bet Your Life, and running sight gags.

Some of the elements of the film will still seem dated, like Groucho's greasepaint mustache, but it all leads to further build on the films longevity. Each brother is at their top form, filling a niche in the routine, Groucho the verbalist, Harpo, the silent master of the sight gag (and accomplished harpist) and Chico, the gruff Italian stereotype who can easily play of either brother. You also get to see Zeppo Marx, the 4th Marx bros. who always played the handsome straight man. The rest of the cast are perfect foils for the Marx Bros. unique sense of humor.

I am a huge Marx Bros. fan, definitely ranking them in my top 5 of classic actors. Any of their films will lend itself to their unique blend of humor and fun. Plenty of quotable lines in their movies.

Check it out, the Marx Bros. in Animal Crackers.

Thanks for reading!

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