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The Marx Brothers take to the gridiron,
This review is from: Horse Feathers [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
When I was young, I really didn't understand the comedy of the Marx Brothers. Now that I'm grown, I still don't understand a lot of it. I love Groucho and his endless supply of witty one-liners, but some of his bits in this film still just go right by me. Chico and his richly comedic language are always good, and I've even grown to like most of Harpo's antics, but somehow, when you put everything together, I'm left shaking my head every so often. I think the main obstacle in my enjoyment of a movie like this is the lack of continuity in the story. Most of the time, the plot is no more than incidental to the comedy. They certainly don't make movies like this anymore, so I have a hard time getting into the proper Marx Brothers mindset.
In Horse Feathers, Groucho plays Professor Waxhaw, the new president of Huxley College; his son (played by Zeppo) is following in the family footsteps of concentrating on a college widow when he should be concentrating on more important things - such as football. Professor Waxhaw decides that the Huxley team simply must beat Darwin, its primary rival. He takes his son's advice and hires a couple of football players who hang out at the speakeasy - well, actually he really recruits Chico and Harpo. Waxhaw also takes an active approach to teaching, and his takeover of the anatomy class makes for the funniest scene in the film (it degenerates into a spitball fight). All the guys hit on the widow woman Waxhaw's son is stuck on, not knowing she (Thelma Todd) is in cahoots with the Darwin team and is trying to steal Huxley's football signals. After a most unsuccessful attempt by Chico and Harpo to kidnap Darwin's two best players, we get to the big game. Picture this: Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo all out there on the field - you can imagine the high strangeness and hilarity to be found here.
It's hard for me to evaluate this film. On the one hand, I can see that it is classic Marx Brothers, with one-liners, jokes, gags, songs, dances, the works. On the other hand, I sit here and wonder why I didn't find this film funnier than I did. I almost feel like I'm doing something wrong by not enjoying Horse Feathers more than I do.