The second Marx Brothers film is a riotous version of their stage hit.
Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont), a wealthy Long Island matron, throws a lavish party at her mansion, at which the noted African explorer Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx) is the guest of honor. Mrs. Whitehead, a society rival of Mrs. Rittenhouse's, decides to sabotage the party by substituting a
copy of a noted painting that will be unveiled that evening. Meanwhile, Mrs. Rittenhouse's daughter Arabella (Lillian Roth) plans to switch the painting with a copy done by her artist boyfriend John (Hal Thompson), in order to impress art impresario Roscoe W. Chandler (Louis Sorin), whom musicans
Ravelli and The Professor (Chico and Harpo Marx) recognize as actually being a former fish peddler named Abie.
ANIMAL CRACKERS is exceedingly stagy and theatrical, even by 1930's standards, but is nevertheless very funny and highly enjoyable. Some of its classic bits include the "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" production number, featuring the melody that Groucho would later adopt as the theme song for his
radio and television hit "You Bet Your Life"; the hilarious parody of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude, with Spaulding stepping forward and vocalizing his internal thoughts in the middle of a scene; and the usual quota of bad puns. ANIMAL CRACKERS was also the hardest Marx Brothers film to see
for many years, having been withheld from circulation from 1958 to 1974 due to a copyright dispute. When it was re-released to theaters in 1974, a whole new generation of Marx Brothers fans were born, and happily, Groucho was still alive to bask in the triumph.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The second Marx Brothers film is a riotous version of their stage hit. Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont), a wealthy Long Island matron, throws a lavish party at her mansion, at which the noted African explorer Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx) is the gues… (more)