Director: Leo McCarey
Running time: 66 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U
USA Release date: 17th November 1933
Watched on Sky+ Thursday 23rd June 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I’m not a great fan of most modern comedies and so I thought I’d go back a way to see if there was anything funny back in the 1930’s. Well I’m pleased to announce that the Marx Brothers were definitely on the right track (IMO). I remember their old films being shown on TV when I was young and I also remember finding their mad-cap humour very entertaining. It was interesting to see them again quite a few years later to and still enjoy them just as much. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Rufus T. Firefly has been appointed ruler of the cash-strapped state of Freedonia. This tiny country’s benefactor, Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, believes passionately in Firefly’s abilities. The ambassador of the neighbouring state of Sylvania, Trentino, wants Mrs. Teasdale’s money and will go to any lengths to get it. He has one problem though, Mrs. Teasdale only has eyes for Firefly and to this end Trentino sends in his spies, Chicolini and Pinky. This only causes more mayhem and Trentino ends up insulting Firefly who challenges him and it all ends in a declaration of war! Mrs. Teasdale tries to calm things down but they are determined to fight. I’ll leave it there so as not to enrage the Spoiler Police.
Of course the stars of the show are the Marx brothers; Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly, Harpo Marx as Pinky, Chico Marx as Chicolini and the lesser known Zeppo Marx as Lt Bob Roland - Firefly's aide-de-camp. They are ably supported by; Margaret Dumont who is excellent as Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, Raquel Torres as Vera Marcal and Louis Calhern as Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania.
Now, as a coherent story with a narrative, it’s all over the place, but I believe this is deliberately done to keep the story moving. Of course, the story is just a means to get to the next one-liner, or sight gag, but it kind of works. Looking deeper into it, the film has quite a satirical message about wealth and power. I really enjoyed it, there were elements that you might see in a more modern Mel Brooks film and some of the routines are truly great, particularly the mirror scene. Over all, recommended.
My Score: 7.5/10