Marx Bros. pressed into service on DVD

Maltin records new commentary for 'Night at the Opera'

Warner Home Video will release seven classic Marx Brothers movies for the first time on DVD, with the five discs due out May 4.

Centerpiece of the collection is “A Night at the Opera.” The 1935 production is the first Marx Brothers movie for which Warner owns distribution rights through its MGM library. It also was one of the original 13 films released on videocassette by MGM.

Leonard Maltin, who recorded an audio commentary for the movie on laserdisc, has recorded a new commentary for the DVD, while “The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia” author Glenn Mitchell provides audio commentary for “A Day at the Races” (1937). Both films also feature an original documentary about the Marx Brothers.

Those two movies and “A Night in Casablanca” (1946) will be available on separate discs. The other two discs will feature two movies apiece, pairing “Room Service” (1938) with “At the Circus” (1939) and “Go West” (1940) with “The Big Store” (1941).

Each disc includes an assortment of vintage MGM shorts of the era and other bonus features.

WHV senior veep of classic catalog George Feltenstein said although each disc can be purchased separately at a suggested per-disc price of $19.97, the studio priced the entire package at $59.92 to encourage collectors to own all seven films.

The earliest Marx Brothers movies — “The Cocoanuts,” “Animal Crackers,” “Monkey Business,” “Horse Feathers” and “Duck Soup” — were produced at Paramount Studios and are now the property of Universal Studios, which is considering releasing a DVD collection of them later this year to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the release of “Cocoanuts” in 1929.

Image Entertainment previously released those five titles on DVD in the late 1990s through a licensing agreement with U that expired in 2000. The titles have not been available since then.

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