The Paramount Marx movies are now regarded as perhaps their best, with particular praise going to "Duck Soup" and "Horse Feathers", but their first two pictures, based on Broadway stage hits, are often ignored - or, even worse, dismissed as "stagey". Surely that misses the point? Yes, "Cocoanuts" and "Animal Crackers" are stagey, but you don't have to read much about the Brothers to discover that much of their best work was lost to posterity - a Groucho ad lib heard once by an audience in New York and then lost to time. These films are about as near as we can get to seeing what the Brothers were like on stage and, while they are not nearly as ad libbed as some would have us believe, there are still some great moments. Moments that MGM would never have let them get away with. "Animal Crackers" improves on "The Cocoanuts" in many respects. The plot, of course, doesn't really matter all that much, but the quality of the humour certainly does. There is a much rougher round the edges feel to this than you might find in the MGM films. It may have been performed hundreds of times on Broadway, but it's done with such a freshness (probably due to the indecent haste with which the film was mounted and made) that at some points you could well be watching Groucho up there on the stage. Wondering what he's going to do next. What damage will the Brothers wreak on poor Roscoe W. Chandler? Will Margaret Dumont escape with her dignity intact? Surely...no!...surely Harpo is NOT going to engage in a mock wrestling match with her! And then, before you know it, yes he most definitely is. It's quite a trick to make something so rehearsed seem so spontaneous, but "Animal Crackers" pulls it off with elan. If you think "A Night at the Opera" can't be bettered, then try this - the same writers, similar plot devices but, at times, much, much funnier.