| Animal Crackers



Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers

Victor Heerman

USA, 1930


Review by Rumsey Taylor

Posted on 19 November 2004

Source Universal DVD

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Groucho Marx, as the esteemed Captain Spaulding, returns from an expedition in Africa to the home of a billionaire. His arrival cues song and dance; as in every Marx Brothers film, the supporting characters remain poised for a musical number at a moment’s notice. Similarly, both Chico and Harpo are given patient screen time to exhibit their talent on the piano and harp, respectively, and Groucho touts off an unending string of puns and insults—this, in between songs of course. Somewhere in the mix is the fourth Marx brother, Zeppo, whose presence is often unremarkable among his brothers’ incessant slapstick (my favorite of which is a bad check that literally bounces back into Harpo’s hand).

All four become involved in the theft of the billionaire’s recently acquisitioned painting. Two women (regular guests, apparently) aim to confiscate it, Zeppo intends to replace it with his own reproduction (in order to display his talent as a painter). Inevitably and inexplicably, Chico and Harpo—the least compatible and discreet thieves imaginable—become accomplices to the crime by mere chance. It is as if after a rigged game of spades (which includes about a dozen aces in Harpo’s hand) the brothers simply decide to steal a painting, which they narrowly manage to do after Harpo understands Chico is requesting a flashlight and neither a flask nor fish.

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