Marx Brothers films are the wackiest things ever put on screen. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I, for one, adore them. And while Animal Crackers (1930) and Horse Feathers (1932) are not as iconic as, say, Duck Soup (1933), they’re still as zany and full of hilarious gags and one-liners.
In Animal Crackers (dir. Victor Heerman), Mrs Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) hosts a welcome home party for the famous explorer Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx), during which a valuable painting goes missing. You can see where this is going…
In Horse Feathers (dir. Norman Z. McLeod), Groucho Marx plays Prof. Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College, who, influenced by his son Frank (Zeppo Marx), recruits two players to beat Darwin University in the upcoming football game. Misunderstandings ensue (you don’t say…) and he ends up hiring Baravelli (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx).
Like all Marx Brothers films, Animal Crackers and Horse Feathers are crazy, slightly outdated, and extremely funny. I don’t know about you, but, for me, watching their films consists mostly of trying to write down all the funny one-liners I can, you know, so I can use them in real life – we all do that, right? Animal Crackers boasts perhaps the most famous Marx Brothers line of them all (‘One night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know’), while the ‘I no got a car, I just got a chauffeur’ exchange in Horse Feathers might just be one of the most underrated they’ve ever done.
I’m not sure where these two rank in my personal Marx Brothers top 10, but fortunately I don’t have to make up my mind about that. That’s the beauty of their films. They’re so funny and, in a way, interchangeable, that you can watch them over and over again and just have a good time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to practise my Marx Brothers lines.