Movie Mom

Movie Mom


A Night at the Opera

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:None
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:1935

The Plot: Harpo, Chico, and Groucho Marx bring their sublime brand of anarchy to perhaps its most fitting setting in this comic masterpiece. Groucho is (as ever) a fast-talking fortune hunter (this time called Otis P. Driftwood), chasing (as ever) dim dowager Margaret Dumont (this time called Mrs. Claypool).

Mrs. Claypool brings two Italian opera stars to the United States (Kitty Carlisle as sweet Rosa and Walter Woolf King as cruel Rodolfo Laspari) on board an ocean liner. Talented tenor Riccardo (Allan Jones), who loves Rosa, his manager Fiorello (Chico Marx), and Tomasso (Harpo Marx), Rodolfo’s abused dresser, stow away in Driftwood’s steamer trunk. They manage to get off the boat disguised as bearded Russian aviators, but are discovered and are chased by a New York detective. When Rosa refuses Rodolfo’s romantic advances, she is fired. But Tomasso and Fiorello wrack havoc on the opera’s performance of “Il Trovatore,” until Rosa and Riccardo come in and save the show.

Discussion: Many of the Marx Brother’s best-loved routines are here, including the wildly funny contract negotiation, as Groucho and Chico try to con each other (“That’s what we call a sanity clause.” “Oh no, you can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause!”) and the famous stateroom scene, as person after person enters Groucho’s closet-sized room on the ship, while Harpo manages to stay asleep (and draped over as many women as possible) and Groucho stays philosophical (when the manicurist asks if he wants his nails long or short, he says, “You’d better make them short; it’s getting pretty crowded in here.”). The movie veers happily from the wildest slapstick (the Marx brothers replace the music for “Il Trovatore” with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”) to the cleverest wordplay (by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind), punctuated by musical numbers that range from pleasant to innocuous. Children studying piano may especially enjoy Chico’s speciality — playing the piano while his fingers do acrobatics. And all children will enjoy learning that the stars were real-life brothers, who performed together for most of their lives.

Questions for Kids:

· Why won’t Rodolfo sing to the people who came to say goodbye to him?

· The Marx brothers play people who are not very nice in this movie — they steal, they cheat, they lie, and they cause havoc. How does the movie make you like them anyway?

Connections: This was the most commercially successful of the Marx Brothers movies, in part because of the very sections that seem most tedious to us now — the serious musical numbers and the romance. Children will enjoy the other Marx Brothers movies as well, especially “A Day at the Races” (NOTE–that movie contains some material that seems racist by today’s standards, particularly a rather minstrel show-ish musical number), “Duck Soup,” “Horse Feathers,” and “Monkey Business.” Fans of the many movie references in “The Freshman,” with Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando, may notice that Broderick’s fake passport is in the name of Rodolfo Laspari.



Previous Posts

Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes on "Calvary"
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in "Calvary," opening next week across the country.  Here's an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies Sister Rose Pacatte. [iframe

posted 3:45:01pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Tonight: The Last of Our Pre-Code Series, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman"
Tonight is the last of the Pre-Code films Margaret Talbot and I will be presenting at Washington D.C.'s Hill Center.  And it's a doozy, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman."  We'd love to see you there. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATDif96J5Ms[/youtube] Margaret and I will be back a

posted 3:37:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Statler and Waldorf and "Muppets Most Wanted"
Featuring my favorite Muppet characters!  (Probably because they are critics.) [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/U0NpTfwfbCM" frameborder="0"]

posted 12:21:40pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014: Costumes!
[gallery ids="28926,28927,28928"] About 10-15 percent of Comic-Con attendees come in costume and they are always willing to post for photos.  I love the way there is total fluidity of age, race, gender, and body type.  Even species -- see Superdog below (no, that's not Krypto -- look at the sup

posted 8:40:49am Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

The Real Story: James Brown and "Ski Party"
One of the highlights of this week's "Get on Up" is a scene where James Brown and his group appear in a teen movie set in a ski chalet. The fun of the scene is seeing the R&B performers so far from their usual milieu, wearing ski sweaters and performing for a bland group of white kids perkily c

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.