Monday, September 9, 2013

The Cocoanuts (1929)

It's hard to go nuts for The Cocoanuts.

But give this comedy starring The Marx Brothers a crack anyways.

Groucho and his siblings spout off lots of great lines. It's hard to get all these zingers in one viewing. There's some fine physical comedy involving a pair of adjoining hotel rooms too.

What's hard to figure out, to audiences in 2013, is what's up with all the musical interludes. Is this a nod to vaudeville - a little musical entertainment to go with the feature film? Making their only big screen appearances, Gamby-Hale Ballet Girls and Allen K. Foster Girls dance for your enjoyment during several numbers including Monkey-Doodle-Doo. This, dear readers, features the oddest wardrobe I've ever seen for a big screen dance number. Even Harpo Marx has a couple of solo numbers. There's also musical entertainment from Oscar Shaw and Mary Eaton singing Irving Berlin's When My Dreams Come True.

Their characters, Bob and Polly, are wild about each other. Bob's an architect working at a hotel to earn some cash. Polly's mother, Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont), doesn't think much of the earnest architect who also boasts a fine singing voice. She'd rather see her daughter walk down the aisle with Yates (Cyril Ring), a cad who's planning to steal Mrs. Potter's very valuable necklace. He's in cahoots with Penelope (Kay Francis, in her film debut).

Yates and Penelope plan to make it look like Groucho, Harpo and Chico stole Potter's jewelry.

The picture quality in the DVD copy I watched varied widely. It can also be very hard to make out everything that is said. But, there's still plenty of laughs to be had. But what gives with all the music?

RATING: 7.5/10

FUN FACTS: Margaret Dumont starred in seven films with the Marx Brothers including A Day at the Races and A Night at the Opera.

Co-director Robert Florey also helmed Murder in the Rue Morgue, Tarzan and the Mermaids (yes, really) and The Beast with Five Fingers.

Wow. Cyril Ring amassed an impressive 406 screen credits in his career. Internet Movie Database is a wonderful resource.


"There's a man outside, wants to see you, with a black a moustache."

Groucho: "Tell him I've got one."

Groucho to Harpo who's threatening to throw a phone: "Don't throw that. It's only for long distance."

Chico has no money to pay for his hotel room.

Groucho: "Oh, you're just an idle roomer."

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