A Day at the Races Reviews
Groucho is Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush, a vet who has convinced Dumont's Mrs. Upjohn that he is an expert psychiatrist and medical doctor. He is brought in to try to save O'Sullivan's sanitarium, which her father ran before her. Chico works for O'Sullivan and Harpo is a jockey at the nearby horse track. Jones is romantically involved with O'Sullivan of course, but annoys her when he invests in a race horse expecting to win enough to pay her debts and his.
Again some of their best comic "set pieces" are contained here: Tootsie-Fruitsie Ice Cream, Groucho calling Whitmore as the Florida medical board, Harpo's charades for Hackenbush is gonna be framed, Chico and Harpo interrupting Hackenbush's dinner with Flo, the medical examination of Mrs. Upjohn, and the chaos the boys cause at the race track. Harpo's non-verbal pantomime is even more expressive and hilarious in this picture. The music is still great entertainment though more on a popular track this time since the opera of the previous film. Jones has a solo in front of a wall of water, a Busby Berkeley type ballet number is revealed behind the wall of water, and a solo ballerina does an unbelievable number of rapid pirouettes. Chico does another piano piece and Harpo does too until he demolishes the instrument. It is a treat to see him use the strings and frame from the inside of the piano as his harp to avoid being hauled away by the authorities. Later there is a huge gospel/jazz/swing musical number. An entire black community living around a barn where the brothers are hiding out follow Harpo who is playing a whistle. The scene is a little odd and at times disturbing for its racial stereotyping, but the singing and dancing by everyone but the Marx Brothers is well done. At least there is some variety from the ballads popular to white culture in the mid-30's here.
If I haven't, I've wasted 30 minutes of valuable time.
A strong supporting cast including Dumont, Ruman, and the couple Jones and O'Sullivan (who manage to be the least annoying out of all the romance stories used in the Marx Brothers movies) help give the Marx Brothers plenty of things to play off of and make for a great, classic comedy. Defintly for any fan of the Marx Brothers, old movies, or grea comedies in general.
"You've got it all wrong. This is my aunt. She's come to talk over some old family matters."
"I wish I had an aunt look like that."
"Well, take it up with your uncle."
Groucho plays a horse doctor at a human "spa". The action is great, the song and dance numbers are classic and the Marx Bros. are their usual hilarious selves. The quick witted Groucho and the even more witty Chico make for one of the funniest comedic routines (Tutsi Fruitsi Ice Cream/Racing Code Books for betting) rivaled by Who's on First and not many more.
It's not all good though. The plot drifts, and gets more absurd, in the second half. Also contains a fair amount of padding - the musical numbers were unnecessary (except for Chico's piano solo, which was brilliant, and Harpo's subsequent playing of the piano until it is a harp!). Plus, some of the skits went on beyond their punchline.