Thursday, May 23, 2013

Movie Review: A Night at the Opera

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Funny comedy from start to finish
Cons: The music scenes
The Bottom Line:
You'll laugh til you cry
Witty lines and physical
Humor unmatched

"That Can't Be My Shirt.  My Shirt Doesn't Snore."

I have heard about the Marx Brothers all my life, but have never made time to watch any of their films.  I recently had a chance to catch A Night at the Opera on TV, and I'm glad I took it.  This is a funny film well deserving of its classic label.

The plot revolves around a group of people trying to make money from an opera.  There's Otis Driftwood (Groucho Marx), who is making a living trying to get Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont) into high society (while milking her for a high salary along the way).  There's Fiorello (Chico Marx) who is starting out as a manager.  Tomasso (Harpo Marx) is an assistant to a spoiled star (Walter King).  Then there's the female lead Rosa (Kitty Carlisle) and her lover Ricardo (Allan Jones), a member of the chorus who want his big break so he can marry her.

When Rosa gets a job singing in America, Fiorello, Tomasso, and Ricardo stow away on the boat to try to get him a job big enough to he can marry her.  Naturally, they stow away in Otis' trunk, making him involved as well.  With wild and crazy high jinks along the way, it's anyone's guess how things will turn out.

Okay, so maybe the ending isn't that hard to figure out after all, but the ride along the way is so much fun.  My roommate watched it with me, and he describes it as one long one line movie.  That's not quite the case, but it is down right close.  Groucho Marx is the king of the one liner, and I couldn't stop laughing at him.  Harpo's antics are also quite funny even though he never once talks.  Chico is the most of a straight man of the three, although he gets his scenes as well, especially one involving contract negotiations.

The rest of the cast has the unenviable job of keeping up with the three stars, but they manage to do a decent job.  Allan Jones really has the most screen time from the rest of the cast, and he excels at everything he has to do.  Frankly, there wasn't a bad performance in the bunch.

And the laughs!  Not only do they come from Groucho's lines but also some pretty wild situations.  There's a scene where people crowd into a room on a ship that is as funny as advertised.  And then there's the climax, with one wild situation after another that kept me laughing from start to finish.

The movie has so much wit and so many laughs that I actually found the musical interludes a bit of a let down.  Yes, there are a couple of opera songs and a few other songs on the boat.  They were okay, but really felt like they slowed the pace down to me.

That's the only flaw in the movie, however.  It is funny pretty much from start to finish.  If you've missed this film, you are really missing out.  Make tonight A Night at the Opera.

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