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8.07.2009

The Marx Brothers II: Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers has only gotten better with age and I now regard it as the best movie they did prior to Duck Soup. It's more consistent than either Monkey Business or Horse Feathers. Animal Crackers manages to squeeze in quite a few solid skits into 97 minutes, while having a somewhat better plot than most of their early movies. Dumont is perfect as always but it's Chico and Harpo who are fully realized for the first time. Con-artist and sidekick, they're one of American cinema's classic comedic duos and they play off each other brilliantly in this movie. Groucho is actually still a little bit off as Captain Spaulding, he's not quite "Groucho" yet. But he is hilarious in virtually every scene. "I'm sorry, I was using the past tense. Of course, we're way past tents these days, we're living in bungalows. This is a mechanical age, of course..." The film doesn't really let up. It starts with one of the most famous entrances in film history as Captain Spaulding enters to his theme song and then barrels down the next hour without missing a beat. The after-dinner recital is a classic scene as is Chico and Groucho figuring out that the missing painting was eaten by left-handed moths (ONLY Chico could get the better of Groucho), but for my money few sketches in their entire oeuvre rivals "Jameson, take a letter to my lawyers...". Pure comedy gold:

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