Norman Z. Mcleod
Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 19 November 2004
Source Universal DVD
Within minutes Groucho Marx enters as Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff. The occasion is his appointment as the new president of Huxley College, and incites a song in his colleagues and students. As the character possesses no apparent credentials for this position, his response is indifferent. Save for a cap and gown, Groucho looks and behaves identically to his roles in other Marx Brothers films, so do his brothers.
The scenario in Horse Feathers is Huxley’s forthcoming football match with a rival college. To ensure their win, they recruit ringers. Because Groucho commandeers this fraudulence, the result is the addition of the incompetent Harpo and Chico to the team. The climactic football match will be won, of course, and in the most unfeasible manner imaginable.
The final game in this film is a hallmark in the Brothers’ oeuvre. Two of their first films (The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers) were close adaptations of stage plays—they include interior sets and Groucho’s staple asides to his viewing audience (which are still funny on video). This final scene in Horse Feathers occurs on location and is composed of predominantly physical comedy, and the accommodation is successful. Despite my inclination to do so, describing in particular the actions in this scene would spoil the joke, but I will say it includes an arsenal of banana peels.