#297- A Night at the Opera

Quick recap: It’s nothing but hijinks with the Marx Brothers! This time they get in on a money making scheme involving the opera.

Someone should’ve clued them in

Fun (?) fact: Producer Irving Thalberg made the mistake of leaving the Marx brothers in his office for several hours while he went to various meetings. When he returned, he found Harpo, Chico and Groucho completely naked and roasting potatoes in his office. Defeated, he sat down, ate one of the potatoes and never did that again.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo

My thoughts: The other day, my 7 year old told me in no uncertain terms that he hated black and white movies. My husband had shown him The Day the Earth Stood Still several months ago and according to him, it was super boring. Like any good parent in this situation, I went about trying to prove my child wrong- if it was the last thing I did.

My initial plan was to start playing A Night at the Opera and as soon as my kid became restless or started terrorizing the cats, I would turn it off. Then I would note how long he had made it and that would be the deciding factor in how I reviewed this movie. I didn’t account for the fact that he would absolutely fall in love with the film. He seemed bored at first ( Groucho was his least favorite) but anytime Harpo appeared, everything was good. Some of my kid’s favorite scenes:

Groucho ordering all that food for the stowaways

Everyone piling into the cabin

Harpo actually playing the harp

Harpo playing the trombone with a violin bow

And on and on and on. My son ate it up! It didn’t matter that there was barely a plot or that there were a few slow numbers we could’ve done without, the comedy more than made up for it. Had I watched the movie alone, the curmudgeon in me probably would’ve given it just a couple of points. Seeing this through fresh eyes made me appreciate it so much more. I think what astounds me most is how there are so many tv shows and movies marketed to kids nowadays but sometimes it’s the simple stuff they love the most. And Harpo.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Once Upon a Time in the West

 

 

 

#255-Gold Diggers of 1933

Quick recap: Set during the Depression, a group of showgirls find work in a new Broadway play and new love with a mysterious benefactor.

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MRW it’s payday 

Fun (?) fact: This movie is where the song ‘We’re In the Money’ comes from.

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Not even kidding, this creepy kid gave me nightmares

My thoughts: I think it’s best to start with a quotation of lyrics from one the most famous songs from this movie, so that you can better understand what I had to watch:

From ‘Pettin’ in the Park’:

Pettin’ in the park, (bad boy!) Pettin’ in the dark; (bad girl!) /First you pet a little, Let up a little, and they you get a little kiss/ Pettin’ on the sly, (oh my!) /Act a little shy: (Aw, why!)/ Struggle just a little/ Then hug a little/ And cuddle up and whisper this: /“Come on, I’ve been waiting long,/ Why don’t we get started? /Come on, maybe this is wrong, /But, gee, what of it? /We just love it.”

Yeah. And there’s a delightful scene where the girl in the show physically struggles but the guy continues to hold her tight. Then there’s a rainstorm and the girl gets soaked and has to change. She chooses to put on a metal dress to hopefully stop his advances, but nope! The creepy child from the gif above just happens to have a tin can opener which he uses to cut through the dress and then probably rapes her.

So, besides all the implied rape (and believe me, there’s A LOT), the movie just felt jumbled together. It’s supposed to be a movie about a broadway play (Fun!) and there are also crazy antics where the group of girls pretend to be gold diggers to piss off snotty rich men who hate love (fun!). But this is during the Depression after all, so the last song of the movie is about remembering our soldiers who marched off to war and who are now marching in bread lines, trying to survive (Bummer.). And to be fair, there is a lot of talk about the Depression, so it wasn’t just thrown in, but there’s a ton of money thrown around in the play and instead of a song, why not use some of that money to help people rather than building a contraption that makes it rain and snow in the theater?

The love story between Polly and Brad was cute, but mostly because that Dick Powell, who played Brad is quite the looker. His warbly voice kind of threw me off but I was smitten throughout most of the movie. The girls also seemed like a fun group, especially Trixie, and I think this would’ve been something I would’ve loved to watch over and over again in the 30s.

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I could do without the creepy kid though

Final review: Despite the fun I had, I’m going to go with a 3/5 because of the kid and because there were some really slow parts

Up next: Blow-Up

#228- Duck Soup

Thank you to Andy (that guy I married that one time) for recommending this movie and helping me to appreciate Looney Tunes just a bit more. 

Quick recap: Rufus T. Firefly (played by Groucho Marx) is put in charge of the fictional country of Freedonia. Shenanigans- as well as hijinks- ensue.

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Fun (?) fact: Duck Soup is one of the few films where Harpo Marx doesn’t play a harp and now I want my money back.

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My thoughts: As hard as I may try, there isn’t much for me to add to Duck Soup. It was funny, although there were so many jokes and goofs that I probably missed some really good ones. So instead, I’m going to rank the Marx Brothers!

4)

Zeppo Marx, 1933

Zeppo Marx, 1933

He played the ‘straight man’ in Duck Soup and shortly after this movie was released, quit acting altogether. Fun fact- Zeppo Marx’s least favorite Marx brother is Zeppo Marx.

3)

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Harpo Marx

This one is controversial, I know ( shut up, Andy), but my reasoning is this- HIS NAME IS HARPO AND HE DIDN’T PLAY THE HARP. All throughout Duck Soup, Harpo ran around cutting stuff with scissors. It was funny but also a little disturbing. Given the chance of watching another movie, I’m sure he would win me over but he’d damn well better have that harp next time.

3)

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Chico Marx

Fun fact- I didn’t even know there was a Chico Marx (or a Zeppo). Chico won me over with his weird Italian (?) accent and sharp comedic timing. I loved the scenes when he and Groucho would argue about something and very quickly change sides. Maybe lesser known of the Marx brothers, but I’d love to see more.

1)

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Gummo Marx

Ok, but really, it’s Groucho. Of course it is. Dude’s a genius. Maybe I wasn’t rolling on the floor laughing (or ROFL for all you youngsters out there), but I appreciated his craft. I’ve seen so many impressions of Groucho that it was refreshing to see the real deal. Back to the timing, it was perfect. And before you have a chance to recover from one joke or think too long about it, he has another 5 ready to go. The physical comedy isn’t usually my favorite but I could watch the mirror scene over and and over and not get tired of it.

Final review: 4/5, only because the musical element was a little weird and threw me off when they started singing.

Up next: Pulp Fiction at the Drafthouse!

#195- All that Jazz

Quick recap: Joe Gideon is so busy with his job as a choreographer, as well as keeping up with his girlfriend, ex-wife and daughter that he doesn’t pay attention to a life threatening heart condition.

Always with the jazz hands, or 'Fosse hands', since this is basically a biography about Bob Fosse

Always with the jazz hands, or ‘Fosse hands’, since this is basically a biography about Bob Fosse

Fun (?) fact: Shirley MacLaine says that she is the one who gave Bob Fosse the idea of All that Jazz while he was recovering from a heart attack.

John Lithgow in All that Jazz

John Lithgow in All that Jazz

My thoughts: I had no idea who Bob Fosse was before watching All that Jazz, which is kind of ridiculous considering my love of Chicago and my like of Cabaret. Not knowing who he was didn’t detract from the film, even though it is a thinly veiled biography about his life. Instead, I researched his life afterward and it made the ending (which I’ll get to in a minute) all the more sad. I think that if I had known about him beforehand, it wouldn’t have had the same emotional impact that it did.

Essentially, All that Jazz is about a dying man who either doesn’t know he is dying, or refuses to believe that he is. The very first scenes show Joe Gideon in his element, casting the dancers for his new show and flirting with just about everyone. And then there is a scene with Gideon where he appears to be backstage with a woman all dressed in white. He is flirtatious with her as well, and it took me awhile to figure out the structure, that this wasn’t part of his real life, but a way for the audience to gain insight into who he was and where he started. Throughout the entire movie, I don’t think I could call Gideon loveable or even very likeable, but a part of me still rooted for him, and even during the final number where he sings about dying, I hoped he would pull through. In a weird way, I was in my own state of denial that this would be the ending, even though Fosse foreshadowed the death from the very beginning with the woman in white. I also loved the scenes that started each day, with Gideon in the shower, popping pills and then doing jazz hands in the mirror. His energy is drained eventually until he can’t even say his line, ‘It’s showtime, folks!’.

I could go on for several more paragraphs about this movie but I’ll skip ahead to the scene that impacted me most. As Gideon slips further and further into his own mortality, he starts hallucinating about the people he cares for, in the form of musical numbers of course. The final number is the one that did me in, with Gideon singing, ‘I think I’m gonna die’. It’s the perfect finale and lasts for almost 10 minutes, as he sings and works his way through the ‘audience’, full of friends, family and co-workers he wants to say goodbye to. What made this so sad for me was that all of this was going on in his head and he never actually got a chance to really say what he wanted to say. I wouldn’t say that his life was filled with regrets, but he was the sort of person who lived for the moment, and not really the future.Had he taken better care of himself, this could’ve all been prevented. It just seemed like a realistic depiction of how many people die, with loose ends. The woman in white shows up and Gideon starts moving toward her, as the number begins to wind down. It was beautiful the way he was shown slipping away, and then the last scene was of the dead body being put into a bag. It was such a cold, jarring ending that made me feel as if I had lost someone I personally knew, and wasn’t really watching a movie.

The 1979 Best Picture nominee ÒAll That JazzÓ will be screened as the next feature in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and SciencesÕ ÒGreat To Be NominatedÓ series. The Bob Fosse film, based on FosseÕs own life as a womanizing, drug-using choreographer, will screen on Monday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the AcademyÕs Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Several members of the cast and crew, including actors Deborah Geffner, John Lithgow and Kathryn Doby; film editor Alan Heim; associate producer and assistant director Wolfgang Glattes; executive producer Daniel Melnick; production sound mixer Chris Newman; production designer Philip Rosenberg; cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno; and music editor Michael Tronick will participate in a post-screening discussion. Pictured here: Roy Scheider (center) and dancers.

Final review: 5/5. I’m tempted to watch it again before having to mail it back to Netflix, I loved it so much

Up next: The Kid Brother