A Day at the Races

Surefire film fun and up to the usual parity of the madcap Marxes, even though a bit hectic in striving for jolly moments and bright quips.

With:
Groucho Marx Chico Marx Harpo Marx Allan Jones Maureen O'Sullivan Margaret Dumont

Surefire film fun and up to the usual parity of the madcap Marxes, even though a bit hectic in striving for jolly moments and bright quips.

This is the picture which the late Irving Thalberg started and Max Siegel, Sam Harris’ former legit production associate, completed as his initial Hollywood chore at Metro.

Obviously painstaking is the racehorse code-book sequence, a deft switch on the money-changing bit; the long-distance telephoning between the horse doctor (Groucho) and the light-heavy; the midnight rendezvous business between Groucho and Esther Muir, including the paper-handing slapstickery; the orchestra pit hokum, which permits the standard virtuosity by Chico at the Steinway and Harpo at the harp, including a very funny breakaway piano.

Allan Jones and Maureen O’Sullivan sustain the romance and Jones gets his baritone opportunities during a water carnival which is cameraed in light brown sepia.

Esther Muir is a good foil, topped only by Margaret Dumont as the moneyed Mrs Upjohn, who is stuck on Groucho and stands for much of his romantic duplicity, even unto paying off the mortgage on the sanatorium owned by O’Sullivan.

1937: Nomination: Best Dance Direction (‘All God’s Children Got Rhythm’)

A Day at the Races

Production: M-G-M. Director Sam Wood; Producer Max Siegel; Screenplay Robert Pirosh, George Seaton, George Oppenheimer; Camera Joseph Ruttenberg; Editor Frank Hull; Music Bronislau Kaper, Walter Jurmann; Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Stan Rogers

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1937. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: Groucho Marx Chico Marx Harpo Marx Allan Jones Maureen O'Sullivan Margaret Dumont

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