The lost movie of the week: A Day at the Races (1937)

There have been a lot of great comedic duo’s & groups but it is difficult not to consider the Marx Brothers as one of the best comedic group of all time. The brothers who became famous because of their great vaudeville in the 1910s and 20s. The Brothers started their successful movie career in the 30’s with the famous: “Animal Crackers”(1930), “Monkey Business (1931) and maybe their greatest: “Duck Soup” (1934). The 30s made them international movie stars, an honor they truly deserve.  The great force of the brothers were the three main ones: Groucho, Chico and Harpo. Sometimes their fourth brother Zeppo would participate, but then as the straight leading man.

In the movie the brothers must keep a sanitarium open with the help of a misfit race-horse.

Sam Wood (a three-time Oscar nominated director) directs the famous trio with pace and control. The greatest Marx Brothers comedies are the one in which the directors can keep the story and the gags in check. The story goes hand-in-hand with the humor which is not always the simplest task.  The great power of the story are of course the Brothers. Their secret is that each of them does something different: Chico was a charming, dim-witted character of Italian origins (or so he played him like that). Groucho used his sharp humor to create the greatest dialogues and one-liners ever used in films and Harpo was a visual comic, he never spoke in movies but used an arsenal of props to help him perform. Margaret Dumont has often played with the Brothers, her greatest skill is that it never seemed she understood the jokes which made the scenes so funny.

The movie is only one their films to have been ever nominated for an Oscar for Dave Gould: Best Dance Direction for song/dance number “All God’s Children Got Rhythm.”

“A Day at the Races” is a great comedies with even greatest performances that should be watch and rewatched with delight.

Stanley Berenboom

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