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Love Happy is the final movie that features the three Marx brothers (Groucho Chico Harpo) in top billing and as the stars. Once again they do the occasional musical performances. This time Frank Tashlin co-writes the script (bringing, I'd imagine, some pure cartoonish brilliance to it, in fits and starts). And it's OK... ish. Actually Harpo is better than OK, but when isn't he? This isn't even his premier work and he's delightful to watch in scenes that should be rote like when the actress asks Harpo to be his manager and he mimes becoming a "big shot" with his feet up on a can of rubbish in a park, miming as well being on the phone with many agents. It's what he was made for as a performer, moments like this.
The main problem for me is a major lack of the brothers interacting with one another - Groucho barely appears in the first half for Pete's sake, and only through limited 4th wall breaks - yet there are a lot of legitimately entertaining musical numbers (really, there isn't a dull one, including a number where a woman sings about being frustrated with motherhood). There's once again another loony but half-baked crime plot, here involving stolen diamonds in a can of... sardines I think, Chico on piano, and a musical that is on thin ice as far as being produced. Objectively this isn't as good a movie as I'm rating it, but I'm being generous because when these guys do click in their scenes they are just that funny. In other words it's better than Room Service (oddly enough this has the storyline that it's closest to), but not by much.
It's also uncanny seeing Groucho without his grease-paint mustache as a movie character with the brothers.
Definitely not the Marx Bros best work, but notable for their last film together. Harpo has a larger role and things were funnier after Groucho finally makes more appearances toward the end.
Okay but not the brothers best. Vera-Ellen's dance number based on Maugham's Rain is unusual and as always she dances beautifully. Marilyn is in and out within minutes but is a knockout.
definitely not the Marx Bros best work, but notable for their last film together. Harpo has a larger role and things were funnier after Groucho finally makes more appearances toward the end.
Love Happy, the last of the Marx Brothers' big screen starring vehicles, has largely been panned by audiences and critics alike ever since its debut almost sixty-five years ago. The main reason for this is perhaps the story's script, which was co-written by Frank Tashlin, Mac Benoff, Ben Hect, and Harpo Marx. Being that Harpo was one of the individuals behind this movie's script, it should come as no surprise that he [Harpo] was at the center of the story while brothers Groucho and Chico played little more than bit parts. Now, having taken this into consideration, it becomes clear why the movie has remained one of the least favorite of critics and Marx Brothers fans alike. But a closer examination of the movie reveals why it deserves more credit than it has gotten over the sixty decades plus since it premiered. Harpo being placed in the lead role is actually a very important reason that audiences should give this movie a second look. His brothers may play bit parts in this film. But even in bit parts, they are still entertaining in their own right. That is another reason that the movie is more entertaining than some would have audiences believe. And last but not least, the movie's musical numbers will entertain audiences-even the relatively unnecessary harp solo played in the park near the story's end. It can be forgiven considering it exhibits once more Harpo's talent. Anyone that takes all of these factors into consideration in watching the new re-issue of Love Happy from Olive Films will see that the film's critics didn't see the film for its true value.
The biggest complaint that critics and audiences alike have had about Love Happy over the years is that the movie takes away from The Marx Brothers' legacy. They have argued that it does so because it focuses more on Harpo than on the Marx Brothers as a unit. Making for even more difficulty is that Harpo has always been considered more of a sidekick style character than leading man. That's because his brand of comedy was more physical than verbal. It forced audiences to actually pay attention to his acting, rather than just hear anything. The age of the silent film had ended years before this movie. So, audiences had become quite acquainted and comfortable with movies with sound. That being the case, it becomes increasingly clear why audiences even today are less accepting of this movie. But if the same audiences were more willing to invest themselves in the movie more fully, they would see the true value in the story. Said audiences would see the level of physical comedy on the part of Harpo and just how entertaining said comedy makes the movie in the long run. It really was and is today an art form that has largely been lost. So to that extent, it makes Love Happy even more of a jewel of a re-issue for any true classic movie fan.
Harpo Marx's own brand of physical comedy and mime is a wonderful foundation on which the script behind Love Happy Rests. It is however, not all that makes the movie truly worth watching. Even in bit parts, Harpo's brothers Groucho and Chico were entertaining in their own right. Their screen time might not have been nearly as much as in past Marx Brothers movies. But even in more diminished roles, both continued to show their prowess. Groucho was still just as quick witted both as narrator and as the bit part detective Sam Grunion. His interaction with a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe as an unnamed client is just as hilarious as his interactions with other female cast members in previous works such as Night at the Opera and Duck Soup. On the other side of the coin, Chico had his own brand of comedy, too. Both brothers showed an understanding and a respect for their roles in their own way. Neither one tried to ham it up at all. Both men did what they had always done, therefore letting Harpo's own brand of comedy take the limelight. That respect on the part of Chico and Groucho in relation to Harpo having the lead made for a fully entertaining story. And audiences that are open-minded enough to see this will agree with that sentiment, too.
The balance in the acting between Harpo, Groucho, and Chico is key to the success of the script behind Love Happy. That isn't to say that the script doesn't deserve some applause. It is just outrageous enough to be believable as both a crime story and a laugh-a-minute comedy. There is one more aspect of the movie's script that makes the story in whole so enjoyable. That final aspect is the collective musical numbers included in the story. Musical numbers were still very prevalent in movies even at the start of the 1950s. That is one thing that thankfully hadn't yet changed in the film industry at that point in time. One of the best of the movie's musical numbers comes in the form of Harpo's own harp solo late in the story. He is with Maggie (Vera-Ellen) in the park discussing her future, when out of nowhere he pulls out his harp in an attempt to cheer her up. Given it seems a bit out there that he just happened to have his harp right there at that moment. But his talent is unrivaled. That isn't to take away from the talent of Vera-Ellen as she sings her own number or what may or may not have been Chico on the piano late in the movie. In an age when the majority of movie makers fill their stories with mostly sex and violence, these musical numbers prove that such substance is just as entertaining today as it was decades ago. And together with the equally impressive acting on the part of the Marx Brothers and a fun story, the musical numbers help to make Love Happy a movie that is more than deserving of a second look whether for the first time in a long time or for the first time ever.
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This "film" is technically the last Marx Brothers film, if you can call a film that features very few scenes in which they interact a Marx film. This started out life as a solo vehicle for Harpo, but it was decided the other two were needed to make this bankable at all. So Chico is shoehorned in, and Groucho has scenes that seem like an afterthought. I think at this point Groucho was already doing "You Bet Your Life" on NBC, and he probably had scheduling conflicts. Marilyn Monroe has an early film appearance here..which amounts to her walking in, delivering a line, and leaving. She gets high billing on video releases purely because of who she became. This has some good Harpo stuff, but not enough to save it, and not more than you can find in other, better Marx films.
The misleading poster promises Groucho and Marilyn but you'll see very little of them both. The only thing you'll get aplenty is a lot of Harpo, which is really boring, well-known and limited. One and half of the 2 stars are won by the fabulous presence of Ilona Massey alone, a perfect woman rightfully first over Marilyn any day of the week.
"Love Happy" is a dim shade of what the Marx Brothers once were. The disjointed script that began as a solo feature for Harpo appears to have been cut and pasted with hedge trimmers and duct tape to include the other two brothers. As a result, the story doesn't make sense, causing the writers to make Groucho into a narrator to explain what is going on (and eliminating him from the majority of the film). There is not a single scene in which all three brothers appear on screen and about a total of three minutes in which two of the three appear together. It is depressing. The equation of witty banter and slapstick humor that brought success to this trio is shelved in lieu of turning half of the script into Harpo squeezing his horn. The only redeeming moments of this film come when the henchmen empty Harpo's pockets for a solid four minutes (so classic) and Harpo and Chico's "conversation." Ironically, these two redemptive scenes are the only scenes that fit the Marx Brothers equation, reminding us of why we love these guys. The obligatory Chico piano solo is a relief from the otherwise mundane plot. Although it goes on for quite a while (probably to take up some time and make the film feature length), it is easily one of the most entertaining parts of the film since everything else is so awful. It's a bad sign when this film is best known for Marilyn Monroe's 15-second walk-on. This is a sad chapter for the Marx Brothers and it only cheapens their comic legacy. Do not watch this film or they may be ruined for you.
Technically, yes it is a Marx Brothers movie. Although Groucho barely appears, and it's mostly a Harpo/Chico vehicle. And Marilyn Monroe on the cover? It's because she appears for 1 scene near the end, and it's her big 'debut'. Even though Groucho on TV has said it was a 'terrible, terrible' movie, it's actually not as bad as one might expect. It's definitely weak compared to the brothers' other work, but there are some pretty good moments.
I Can See Why They Stopped
Harpo didn't mention it in his autobiography. Groucho didn't mention it in his first one and generally considered [i]A Night in Casablanca[/i] to be the brothers' last film. I don't know what Chico thought. But this movie, originally intended to be a solo project for Harpo, was cobbled together as a project for all three, because the money people said it had to be all three if they wanted it made. (The money people, bizarrely, included Mary Pickford.) Harpo and Chico have several scenes together, but it almost feels as though the brothers were just tired of one another, because Harpo only has a scene or two with Groucho, and Groucho and Chico never appear onscreen together at all. In fact, Groucho doesn't get much time onscreen even alone, and Marilyn Monroe, who only has something like two lines, has almost as much. But of course, she's on the cover, because she's Marilyn Monroe.
Detective Sam Grunion (Groucho, with one of his least-funny character names) is Our Narrator, telling us the story of the Romanoff diamonds. Throckmorton (Melville Cooper), who runs a high-end food emporium, has had them smuggled into the US in a can of Portuguese sardines with a Maltese Cross marked on the bottom of the tin. They are to be received by the mysterious and ominous Madame Egelichi (Ilona Massey). Only a funny-looking pickpocket with curly hair (Harpo, who doesn't even get a character name and is just called Harpo) got into the storage area of the store and has stolen quite a lot of food, including the special tin. He sneaks it back to the theatre where Mike Johnson (Paul Valentine) is trying to put on a show of unknowns, not usually an easy prospect. And he acquires Faustino the Great (Chico), an uneven prospect at best, though he immediately goes to work on Mr. Lyons (Leon Belasco), who owns the sets and costumes and wants to take them all back. Mike is in a relationship with ingenue Maggie Phillips (Vera-Ellen), and Madame Egelichi is sending thugs, including Raymond Burr, after Harpo.
It's really rather sad. There are some laughs in the story, but most of what makes a great Marx Brothers movie is gone by now. It would have been interesting to see the movie as originally planned, as the Harpo vehicle, and it would have been fun if the movie had acknowledged that what makes a Marx Brothers movie great is the interaction among the brothers and that we don't necessarily care about the plot. But there are none of those wonderful, nonsensical arguments between Chico and Groucho, because we never see them together. They don't even exchange a phone call, which Chico and Harpo do. I was uncertain until I checked the Memorable Quotes page on IMDB which of the women was the love interest, because we all know that the romantic subplot is the least important part of a Marx Brothers movie. Though I'm not at all sure the writers of this one did; they never seemed to before.
Oh, I suppose I'd still watch it if there were nothing better about, and the person who is calling it one of the worst movies ever made clearly hasn't seen many movies. (And how two minutes of Marilyn Monroe elevates it all that much, I cannot say.) But it's really rather disappointing. Better had they left on [i]A Night in Casablanca[/i]. As I'm sure they all would have agreed. But the thing is, it's awfully hard to completely suck the comedy out of a Marx Brothers movie. Groucho, the baby, was pushing sixty at the time, and it shows. Marilyn was twenty-three, and [i]it[/i] showed. But there was still humour involved, a laugh or two. The idea that Chico could talk to Harpo over the phone simply by reading his mind is an entertaining one, and the line about how Mr. Lyons shouldn't show off by being a better violinist than Chico was a pianist was actually laugh-out-loud funny. However, those moments were scarce compared to the laughs in their earlier films, and this isn't one I feel the need to own--or even watch again.
It is also an early example of product placement. The production had run out of money, and the way they paid for the rest of the movie was to have the thugs chase Harpo around the rooftops of Manhattan, with all sorts of billboards going past. Joe Breen tried to put a stop to it, but he was told that this was one thing his office didn't have authority over. On the one hand, preventing that scene would have nipped a few things in the bud, including the release of this movie. On the other, it was nice to know that there were some things which Joe Breen didn't have any authority over. And it is a charming enough scene, for all that, and one of the funniest moments in the movie. Unfortunately, that they were able to do with it led to the fact that people are constantly drinking Coke when there's no need to--and practically the entire movie of [i]Mac & Me[/i], from what I understand. Which is another which didn't need to be made.