For Reel

Animal Crackers (1930)
July 21, 2015, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Victor Heerman
3.5 Stars
Animal CrackersAfter they had enormous success in bringing their stage hit The Cocoanuts to movie screens in 1929, the Marx Brothers would repeat the formula for Paramount by bringing yet another one of their Broadway musicals to film. Animal Crackers involves the tomfoolery that occurs at the party of a society matron (Margaret Dumont), including a series of misplaced paintings and the arrival of an infamous wise-cracking explorer, Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx). As a filmed stage play, their second outing still feels very staid, however the art deco design of the mansion contributes some interesting visuals. Also an upgrade over their previous outing is that the tedious, familiar subplot involving young lovers is given less screen time, as are the musical numbers. Director Victor Heerman reportedly was in favor of eliminating such superfluous elements so as to keep the comedy the central focus, which was the pattern that would follow for the Brothers’ successive films. Harpo is slightly more toned down than in The Cocoanuts, where he came off as a demonic pest. Groucho delivers a few of his most famous quips, including the monologue involving hunting elephants that is so over-stuffed with wordplay that one is bound to miss a few of the jokes while they’re laughing.

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