Friday, January 02, 2015

A Movie For The Discerning Opera Hater

While Turner Classic didn't have anything worth watching on New Year's Eve, they did come through last night with A Night at the Opera. I had a Marx Brothers phase around 9th grade. It didn't last more than a year, and I can't even remember why it started. Maybe as a class project for Social Studies.

The thing I noticed is that Groucho operates almost separately from everyone else, like he can step outside the film at will, to comment on the proceedings. Which sort of gives him an edge, over everyone expect Chico and Harpo, because they're operating on the same level. You watch the beginning of the film, and Groucho just seems to be running rings around Mrs. Claypool and Mr. Gottlieb. Then he runs into Chico, and they start tearing up the contract, and it's like, here's the one guy who can run with Groucho. The one guy who can, not throw him off-stride exactly, Groucho rolls with things remarkably well, always ready with the smart remarks, or the new plan. But Chico and Harpo can at least catch him by surprise.

I think my favorite scene was the bit in Groucho's hotel room with the detective. Where the detective wants to know why there are 4 beds in a one-person apartment, and as he scours it for Chico, Harpo, and Ricardo (who entered the country illegally after stowing away on a cruise liner), they switch all the furniture in the bedroom with that in the living room, while leading the detective in circles around the fire escape. The detective getting more frantic and confused, Groucho not helping that with the constant sly remarks. I liked they seemed to think this a perfectly logical plan to confuse the cop until he gave up hunting them and fled.

In spite of all the singing - which no surprise, it's a film about opera - I enjoyed this movie. The scene in the stateroom, where they just keep cramming people in, that was impressive just for the logistics. Keeping all those people upright, and them being able to move just enough to make it funny, without everything falling apart until it's supposed to.

No comments: