WB Top 100: A Night at the Opera (1935)

During the 2017 holiday season, I got a great deal on the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection. Diane and I haven’t seen most of these movies, but we are committed to watching one a week and writing a short review.

In a huge departure from last week’s film “Mutiny on the Bounty”, this week we return to New York (yawn) for an attempt to make it big in show business (yawn) with another romantic subplot (yawn) and the antics of the Marx Bros (huh?).

This week’s movie is 1935’s “A Night at the Opera”.


This was my first Marx Bros. movie though not the first time I’ve been exposed to their comedy styles. Why I was naked in front of them, I am not sure. Speaking of comedy styles, did you ever get a look at the Marx Bros. Woof! Literally, they look like dogs returning from a bad groomer. So anyway, I was exposed to them first (specifically Harpo) through I Love Lucy. I was standing naked in front of it on a projector playing the scene where Lucy kept yelling ‘le crayon’. That’s no way of talking about a man’s penis!

I could go on forever, much like this movie, but I won’t. Frankly, for the few jokes and bits that did land, there was a seemingly endless supply of misses. The romantic subplots and characters didn’t keep my attention either. I loved the opera singing, but even it went on longer than necessary. All in all, for me, this felt closer to “Scary Movie” or some other “throw everything at a wall and see what sticks” type comedy.

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Yes, I am sure some of you move/comedy/Marx Bros. buffs are upset I didn’t enjoy this movie.

That’s a shame because when it worked, the collective talent of the Marx Bros. was apparent even for someone like me who has only heard of them through pop culture history. At times it felt like a slightly funnier Three Stooges (which I have never liked), but my generation is so far removed from Vaudeville that I really didn’t get much of the appeal and I am not sure I should have.

Some bits did land for us both. I loved the scene where they stuffed as many people as they could in Groucho’s room on the ship going to New York City. It went on until it stopped being funny, like most of the jokes in “A Night at the Opera”, but unlike those attempts it kept going until it was funny again.

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This scene was genuinely funny and fantastic physical comedy on the part of everyone involved.

Diane was also partial to the hotel scene where they kept switching beds in adjoining rooms to hide the other stowaways from the police. I didn’t care for it.

I hate writing a review this negative. I don’t think “A Night at the Opera” bests “The Broadway Melody” for my worst yet, but it is close. I wanted to enjoy it, but this isn’t my kind of comedy and the attempts at plot and character development were just piss breaks for the main attraction.

And I wasn’t attracted to it at all.

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I don’t recall noticing this when I first watched it, but Harpo pouring a drink with his foot is also great. I would watch more Harpo Marx, but his brothers I could do without.

For other reviews, make sure to check out the Warner Brother’s Top 100 Film’s page.



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