Original release: 1930
Running length: 97 minutes
The Marx Brothers:
In a modern comedic landscape that can rely more on shock and awe than sharp wits, it’s easy to forget that some of the fastest-paced, cleverest comedies America ever saw came from the Marx Brothers in the 1930s. The brothers—Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo—got their start on the Broadway stage, but would go on to release 13 films between 1921 and 1957.
A Marx Brothers movie wasn’t only made up of quick-fire jokes. Films like Duck Soup and Animal Crackers show rich stories that also work in the brothers executing pretty amazing musical numbers. As it stood, they weren’t just comedians—The Marxes were genuine entertainers. Although it’s a subject of constant debate for long-time fans of the extremely talented siblings, we’re honoring Groucho himself (on what would be his 128th birthday) by counting down our four favorite Marx Brothers films.
The Marxs’ Animal Crackers was as defined by its hilarious premise as it was for its showman-like quality. And that’s no coincidence; like many other Marx films, Animal Crackers was already fine-tuned on the stages of Broadway in the ‘20s. This time, the focus is on Groucho as explorer Jeffrey Spaulding, who complicates the recovery of a stolen painting at his own party. But the magic is in the numbers, with Chico and Harpo’s incredible piano and harp solos, “Why am I So Romantic” and the signature “Hooray for Captain Spaulding.”