Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A Night at the Opera (movie)
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), and also the contract discussion scene between Groucho and Chico, which is a masterpiece of non-communication:
GROUCHO: It's a standard clause. It's in all the contracts. It's the Sanity Clause.
CHICO: Hey, you no a foolin' me. They're ain't no Santy Claus!
The film contains one of the most hilarious scenes of all filmdom, when loads of people crowd into Groucho's tiny stateroom (see image).
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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