Animal Crackers (1930)

Missed Marks

I periodically revisit the Marx films to recharge my own desire for creative anarchy. This time around, I became more aware of how unclever this is as film, and how clever they got later in the medium as fast learners.

Its not anarchy yet. This and “Coconuts” were stage shows the Brothers had been working on for years. The jokes aren’t spontaneous, but polished over many iterations. This is filmed in New York by theatre people who didn’t know much about movies. The staging is theatrical and the camera stationary. The magic of the Marxes at this point is not the spontaneity, but the variety and energy of how they jump out of the convention. They wouldn’t understand the convention of film for another couple years well enough to poke fun at it. But when they do, it changes film forever. That was genuine anarchy.

This has some funny word gags. And it also is the only Marx film (I think I’m right) that has Lillian “Butterfingers” Roth. She’s pretty darn funny. Watch how she acts with her rubber neck and what she does with her eyes. I think I read that all these girls were sexual targets for Marxing and that she was special. Already, she was a depressive drunk I think.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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