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A Night at the Opera (movie)

From Academic Kids

A Night At the Opera is a 1935 comedy film starring the Marx Brothers.

It was the first film the brothers made for MGM after their departure from Paramount, and, at the suggestion of producer Irving Thalberg the film marked a change of direction in the brothers' career. In their Paramount films, the brothers' characters were much more anarchistic: they attacked (comically) anybody that was unfortunate to cross their paths, whether they deserved it or not. (Usually, they did deserve it). Thalberg, however, felt that this made the brothers come across as unsympathetic, particularly to female film goers. So in the MGM films, the brothers were recast as more helpful characters. From now on they heaped their comic attacks upon only the obvious villains of the piece. In A Night At the Opera, the brothers help two young lovers to succeed in love as well as in the opera world. It stars Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Walter Woolf King, Siegfried Rumann and Margaret Dumont.

The opera setting allowed MGM to add big production song numbers, which were one of this studio's specialities. Some Marx Brothers fans were appalled at these format changes, yet the film undoubtedly contained some of the brothers' funniest routines ever. These were honed on stage, as the brothers returned to touring new material on road before filming began (another Thalberg change). Classic scenes included the Stateroom scene (where more and more people are piled into a tiny ship's cabin until they literally spill out at the end), and also the contract discussion scene between Groucho and Chico, which is a masterpiece of non-communication:

CHICO: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?
GROUCHO: Oh, that? Oh, that's the usual clause, that's in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.
CHICO: Well, I don't know...
GROUCHO: It's all right. That's, that's in every contract. That's, that's what they call a sanity clause.
CHICO: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can't fool me. There ain't no sanity clause.

The movie was adapted by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, Al Boasberg (uncredited) and Buster Keaton (uncredited) from a story by James Kevin McGuinness. Sam Wood was the director.

It has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The British rock group Queen later paid homage to this film by naming one of their most famous albums after it (see A Night at the Opera (album)).

Stateroom Scene, Groucho:"Is it my imagination, or is it getting crowded in here?"
Enlarge
Stateroom Scene, Groucho:"Is it my imagination, or is it getting crowded in here?"
The film contains one of the most famous comedy scenes of all filmdom (designed in part by Buster Keaton), when loads of people crowd into Groucho's tiny stateroom (see image).

Quotation

Dumont:I've been sitting right here since 7:00.
Groucho:Yes, with your back to me. When I invite a woman to dinner I expect her to look at my face. That's the price she has to pay.

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