Out of the 13 movies that The Marx Brothers made, only four are remembered: A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup. Although all their movies are wonderful, here are five in particular that should be given more attention:
5. Monkey Business, 1931
“‘…there are four stowaways in the forward hatch!’ ‘Stowaways! How do you know there are four of them?’ ‘Well, they’re singing Sweet Adeline.'” Needless to say, the four stowaways are the four Marx Brothers (interestingly, Harpo’s harmonization in Sweet Adeline is the only time his voice is heard on one of their movies). While onboard the ship, the brothers get mixed up with rival gangster bosses and have to save the day when Zeppo’s new flame, played by Ruth Hall, is kidnapped. Thelma Todd, who would later play the female lead in Horse Feathers, co-stars as the beautiful and neglected gangster wife, Lucille Briggs. Monkey Business was the Marx Brothers third movie and their first major success.
4. Go West, 1940
“Horace Greely…said: ‘Go west, young man, go west.’ This is a story of three men who made Horace Greely sorry he said it.” In Go West, the brothers try to stop greedy land speculators from ruining the future of two young lovers played by Terry Turner and Diana Lewis. Walter Woolf King, who had previously played the evil Lassparri in A Night at the Opera, co-stars as the crooked Beecher. The film reaches its climax with a hilariously unbelievable locomotive chase.
3. Animal Crackers, 1930
After starring in the Broadway premier of Animal Crackers, the four brothers as well as favorite co-star Margaret Dumont reprised their roles in the 1930 film version. The rich widow, Mrs. Rittenhouse (Dumont), gives a party in honor of Captain Spaulding, the African explorer (Groucho). The highlight of the party is the unveiling of a painting by a world-famous master. However, the painting soon disappears and it is up to the brothers to find the crook.
2. A Night in Casablanca, 1946
In A Night in Casablanca, the brothers poke fun at the Nazis, the hotel business, and Warner Brothers 1942 film Casablanca. A ring of former Nazis, headed by Count Pfferman (Sig Ruman) have been murdering the managers of the Hotel Casablanca in an attempt to escape with the treasure they have hidden in it. However, all their plans go to pot when the next manager turns out to be Ronald Kornblow (Groucho). One of the film’s many highlight is Harpo and Chico playing The Beer Barrel Polka on their respective instruments.
1. At the Circus, 1939
When circus owner Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker, not the one from Star Wars!) looses $10,000, he asks for help from two of his employees, Antonio and Punchy (Chico and Harpo). Antonio calls in attorney J. Cheever Loophole, who decides that the best way to refill the moneybag is to beg off of Wilson’s rich and widowed aunt, Susanna Dukesberry (Margaret Dumont). Highlights of the film include a very young Eve Arden as Pauline, the girl who walks upside-down, and Groucho singing his signature song Lydia the Tattooed Lady.