Animal Crackers - 1930
Animal Crackers - Released Aug 28, 1930 - Directed b Victor Heerman
Margaret Dumont and Groucho (and Zeppo Marx) from the film Animal Crackers. Released August 28, 1930, the movie was filmed in Queens, New York City, as the Marx Brothers were primarily stage performers at this point in their career, though Hollywood (and better production values) bid them move to Hollywood soon.
Rather stagey-looking now (since in fact Animal Crackers was originally created as a stage comedy as were most of the early Marx Brothers movies) the direction by Victor Heerrman is one of the last films that veteran silent movie director ever made.
The story is bare-bones with a simple romantic sub-story and a ridiculous stolen-painting mystery which multiplies as the Marxes get involved and many copies of the painting are also soon missing. The real writing energy goes into the anarchy of the comedy sketches which pits Captain Jeffrey Spaulding (Groucho) against upper-caste society which is trying (mostly in vain) to fete his bogus African Explorer persona.
Chico and Harpo show up, and along with youngest brother Zeppo, the berserk dialogue and physical comedy crashes against the generally unfazed Margaret Dumont, the society matron hosting the event at her enormous country home.
Though most of the movie moves forward like any other cinematic tale trying to run through its plot, like many early Marx brothers movies all of that goes out the window when the Marxes launch into short bits which then causes the other (normal) actors to suddenly become an onscreen audience watching and trying to follow the mayhem just like any ticket-holder sitting in a seat at a movie house watching the film. This is disorientating as a linear story, but as a shifting showcase for the Marx Brothers' comedy it all makes sense, and they hurl themselves through various routines that only marginally advance the simple tale toward its conclusion.
Groucho Marx later described his hairstyle for these early films as "a hirsute mattress.'
Original Page September 25, 2015 | Updated January 2017
Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
- Central Park - 1932 - Joan Blondell has trouble on her hands when she gets suckered into helping a gangster to rob a charity event. Though this film stars Joan and Wallace Ford, it also features the American Great Depression which is the background for the hunger and desperation that flavors the film.
- Robert Osborne - 1932 - 2017 - The "Movie Man" who worked as a film historian and host for The Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies.
- Classic Cinema releases to DVD, Blu Ray and Streaming - March 2017 List
- Torchy (Glenda Farrell) Gets Her Manand solves crimes faster than her boyfriend (a policeman) and the whole police force.
- Get Smart - 2008 - Maxwell Smart is back in action with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) on a mission into Russia which turns into a hunt for a traitor within CONTROL's ranks - - and everyone is starting to think it might be Agent 86.
- Ernest Saves Christmas - 1988 - Florida seems like the wrong place to find a missing Santa Clause, but taxi driver Ernest locates him there all the same.
- Jeopardy 1953 - - A Mexican vacation goes off the rails when escaped American convict (Ralph Meeker) hijacks Barbara Stanwyck.
- Zorba The Greek 1964 - Alan Bates and Anthony Quinn are on Crete, with Irene Papas
- Frankenstein Island - 1981 - The plot moves slowly and often doesn't seem to make sense in this legendary bad film featuring a projected image of John Carradine that rattles off incoherant dialogue.
- The Lady Vanishes - 1938 - Hitchcock's famous film about a disappearing lady aboard a trans-continental train. Except for one stubborn young female passenger [who is consequently accused of mental instability] no one aboard can remember the vanished elderly Miss Froy.
- White Zombie - 1932 - Bela Lugosi likes making zombies, and this comes in handy when a local plantation owner on Haiti decides if he can't woo a certain girl to be his wife, he'll have Lugosi turn her into a mindless slave that he can command.