No doubt that "A Night at the Opera" is right up there with "Duck Soup" as
the best Marx Brothers movie. Some Marx-purists complain "ANatO" is when the
brothers started to grow soft and their quality started to decline. For one
thing, instead of ridiculing romantic couples (the love story subplot plays
a big part), they support them. Also, it's not as surreal or satirical as
their past films.
To those purists, I say: Lighten up! "ANatO" is just as funny as anything
the Marx Bros did in the past (heck, I think it's funnier than "Monkey
Business"), and it's withstood the test of time perfectly. In fact, "ANatO"
is said to be Groucho's favorite; he even called his previous films "duds"!
The film is filled with jabs at the upper class and double entendres
courtesy of Groucho. Sample:
Mrs. Claypool: Do you have everything, Otis?
Otis: I haven't had any complaints yet!
The love story subplot isn't as nauseating as 1937's "A Day at the Races".
Allan Jones may be a bit too mushy, but Kitty Carlisle, the love interest,
is cool and calm enough to help it go down easily (that's really her
singing, by the way). Chico and Harpo have some inspired moments, such as
their gleeful butchering of "Il Travotore" (sp?). The hapless villains are
the funniest Marx foils ever, and the finale is just uproarious.
"ANatO" is a wonderfully silly romp, and it's rather harmless, so kids can
probably watch and enjoy it. The famous stateroom scene is nothing short of
brilliant, and you'll find yourself humming along to "Cosi Cosa" (I just
wish the ballad "Alone" had been left, well, alone). Don't miss this
hilarious masterpiece. And now, on with the opera!!