The last two movies from my AFI top 100 movie list were intense. 12 Angry Men and Platoon are not easy movies to watch. They made me think and they made me uncomfortable. I was relieved when I saw that the next movie on my list was A Night at the Opera. This was the first movie that the Marx Brothers completed for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after their split from Paramount Pictures.
I love old films. Yet I had never seen a movie with the Marx Brothers. I knew about them and I had seen clips from some of their movies, but this was the first time that I sat down and watched one from beginning to end. When I finished the movie, I wondered why I didn’t watch their movies before. This movie is hysterical.
The plot of the movie is pretty simple: two lovers want to be together in life and on the opera stage. Rosa (Kitty Carlisle) is an opera singer who has caught the eye of an opera star, Lassparri (Walter Woolf King), who is self-centered and wants Rosa to be with him. However, Rosa loves Riccardo (Allan Jones), an opera singer who has not caught his big break yet. Lassparri and Rosa are heading to New York via a ship. They will be starring in an opera in the city. Riccardo will do whatever it takes to join Rosa in New York and to win her away from Lassparri.
The story sounds simple enough right? Well, when you mix in the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, and Harpo), and their antics, it quickly evolves into one hilarious disaster after another. I could try to explain all the craziness that happens surrounding the brothers, but I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Their antics need to be seen and heard. If you love movies with zippy one-liners you’ll love this film. Here are some examples:
Mrs. Claypool: I’ve been sitting right here since seven o’clock.
Otis B. Driftwood: Yes, with your back to me. When I invite a woman to dinner I expect her to look at my face. That’s the price she has to pay.
Otis B. Driftwood: It’s all right, that’s in every contract. That’s what they call a sanity clause.
[Fiorello laughs loudly]
Fiorello: You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Claus!
When Otis receives the bill for the meal he says: Let me see that… 9 dollars and 40 cents? This is an outrage.
[He turns to his dinner companion]
Otis B. Driftwood: If I were you I wouldn’t pay it.
This movie made me laugh. It was a great break from the serious movies on the AFI list as of late. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend it. I may have to watch it again in the future—I’m sure I missed plenty of the one-liners.
Up next is Easy Rider. In addition, the Marx Brothers have another movie on the AFI list: Duck Soup. It is ranked 60th on the list. A Night at the Opera came in at 85.