Monday, October 13, 2008

Movies: Animal Crackers (1930)

Animal Crackers is a madcap comedy, a Marx Brothers film (my first ever) in which I probably only caught one in every five of Groucho's jokes (one needs, I think, subtitles, or a screenplay, to catch them all). The plot revolves around a wealthy woman's unveiling of a famous painting she has purchased, but the painting is so famous that not only has one visitor to the party made a copy in art school—two have. And both get the same idea to switch their canvas out for the original, the first simply as a practical joke, the second in order to gain recognition as a talented painter (his is as good as, if not better than, the original), and thereby gain the right to marry the girl he loves (who is of higher social stature than he is, although she does love him). In the midst of all this picture switching, Chico and Harpo do some switching and stealing of their own, bringing even more confusion and madcappery to the scene. By the end, all three canvasses are recovered (all of which had been stolen by Harpo, who had also has obscene amounts of stolen flatware and silver tucked into his coat), and the film ends happily.

I never realized how much of Woody Allen's schtick (particularly in the early films) was taken part and parcel from Groucho Marx.

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