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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2005
Of the two features, 'Go West' is the stronger one, and though it doesn't have the greatest reputation and isn't as good or solid as their earlier work, it is pretty good considering. The opening scene is a classic, as is the final third or so of the film, the efforts first to stop the train they're all on and then to refuel it, in the process destroying much of the train. There's a lot of filler in between (particularly the musical numbers), though there are still some good moments. The worst part for me is the scene at the Native American camp; thankfully we've come a long way from using racial stereotypes fueled by misinformation about other cultures for laughs. The requisite pseudo-Zeppo, John Carroll as Terry, actually isn't that bad; for once the romantic/musical subplot doesn't take over too much of the main story. Although as many people have pointed out, one flaw of the movie is that we never are really told how Groucho manages to buy his ticket west after he's been fleeced out of most of his money in the opening scene, or what any of them are doing out west to begin with!

'The Big Store' isn't as horrible as many people make it out to be, but it's no 5-star movie or potential Oscar-winner either. Again, there are some great moments in it, like the scene in Flywheel's "detective office" and the piano duet, but there's far too much filler in it. None of the musical numbers have any relevance to the storyline and can easily be skipped past without missing anything important, and each song is worse than the last, culminating in the horrible "Tenement Symphony." It's the kind of song that makes you wish you could wash your brain out after having heard because it's so horrible. From what I've read, Tony Martin, who plays Tommy Rogers, is a nice fellow in real life, and it's truly amazing he's been married to the same woman for over 50 years, but in this film he just comes across as dull, annoying, and lifeless, the worst pseudo-Zeppo they ever worked with. It makes one feel sad he felt so overshadowed by his much-older brothers he decided to leave the act; he belonged in these later movies more than all of those replacements did. That character should have stayed knocked out for the entire film so he wouldn't have kept popping up to sing yet another dull annoying song just when things were going pretty good. There are great moments, good moments, boring moments, and downright horrible moments in this film; it's like the Marxes just seem out of place in this, with way too much of a plot, not a lot of fresh interesting inspired lines, how they were getting too old to do some of the more physical stuff (such as how doubles were used in the chase at the end, which is humorous but just not their comedy style), and how they come across as more like guest stars in their own movie.

The bonus features are alright; some of the shorts are enjoyable and others aren't anything I would want to watch again (although 'Flicker Memories' is quite funny). The only bonus features related to the films are the trailers, Tony Martin singing the unused song "Where There's Music" to a backdrop of images from the film, and the quite entertaining radio promo for 'Go West.' All in all, a good film, an okay film that could have had the potential to be more than just average, and some hit and miss extras.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The choice between GO WEST (1940) and THE BIG STORE (1941) is, as mom used to say, "six of one and a half-dozen of the other." Both have much to recommend them, yet both are quite flawed.

"The Big Store" features an amusing chase sequence with Harpo on roller skates and Groucho pedaling a bike/unicycle, yet it rankles with one of the Marxes most un-P.C. moments, a furniture dept. scene with offensive Chinese and Italian caricatures. Additionally, musical pieces span the sublime to the annoying. Harpo's beautiful performances of Mozart and Beethoven are starkly contrasted by Tony Martin's bellowing on an equally un-P.C. "Tenement Symphony." Groucho nailed the lid on this pretentious noise when he called it, "the most godawful thing I'd ever heard." Chico is limited to a piano duet with Harpo for "Mamãe Eu Quero," while Groucho is out of place on a hep to the jive "Sing While You Sell."

Having Maggie Dumont aboard for her Marx finale is a plus, but Virginia Grey as female lead is no coup; she's downright forgettable. This one feels and at times looks like what it is: a 'B' unit MGM "contractual obligation" throwaway.

"Go West" has some decent stuff in it but not a whole lot. It's my least favorite Marx Bros. film.

What a terrible chase sequence at the end-- feh. What a lousy supporting cast. Whose girlfriend or relative was June MacCloy, may I ask? And where's Maggie D.? Alas, not in this bomb. How about those songs? "As If I Didn't Know," "Ridin' the Range," and "You Can't Argue with Love." Pee-yew! (I can hear Groucho's whine on "Ridin' the Range" as I type.)

Sight gags are rather weak. Again, the mustachioed wag gets it right when he observes about a bandana tied around a train engineer's mouth that it's "the best gag in the picture." His other one-liners save this movie from total disaster:

Telephone? This is 1870. Don Ameche hasn't invented the telephone yet!
There's something corrupt going on around my pants but I just can't seem to locate it.
I'd have thrashed him to within an inch of his life, but I didn't have a tape measure.
Lulubelle, it's you! I didn't recognize you standing up.
You must fan the flames of love with the bellows of indifference.
Didn't we meet at Monte Carlo the night you blew your brains out?

These two movies are strictly for Marx completists. For the rest of us, a one-time rental will more than suffice.
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on July 11, 2010
Well, one reviewer did not like the Big store much and one did. So did I. I remember laughing most all the way see them skaking thru that store and swinging on the fan's hanging from the ceiling...well..pretty funny..I thought. I only issue I have with one reviewer is the remark about the sterio tying of the indian's...I never thing about that when I am watching those old movies...and if that make's you mad, watch Jerry there is some really bad stuff with regard to how people ware treated.Anyway, I alway's like most of the Marx movies...and I think for the most part, they never really got there due...Too bad..If I remember, I think Harpo died in a nursing home broke...I never heard him speak. I don't know what happened to the other's...Groucho of course came out pretty good...with a couple of game show's etc.I think these movies are worth the price to see..and like another poster, I too would like to know the quaility of the DVD's...good sound or bad etc.<>Lon<>
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on May 10, 2010
Both films get a little tedious. Go West never really gets off the ground in fact, and does not benefit from some vignette gems that are in The Big Store. There are, as always, some quick-witted one-liners by Graucho along with the de rigeuer Chico and Harpo performances. Not to be missed in The Big Store is the famous "mirrors" scene with the inimitable Harpo - wonderful! And the most amazing piece of work, especially for its time, is the "Tenement Symphony," surprising in its frankness and yet poignant in the guise of entertainment so badly needed during the depression and wartime Europe. There are, again, sparks from Graucho, some of which are quite fun. Worthy of purchase.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2005
The Big Store is the Marx Brothers quandary in a nutshell (?) It has the funniest Marx Brothers scene of all their films for my taste at least, the big store chase scene on roller skates and bicycles. I can't help but laugh out loud every time I see it. Sure it's contrived and far from original, but it's funny! We first meet Groucho in his office (he's a private eye) and the scenes with Harpo and Dumont there work very well. The office/stove idea is funny too. So also is the mechanical beds gimmick (one, the camper foldout, was also used by Tati in Playtime. Did he see it here?) And Chico has one of his best piano solos. But so far what's good takes up about a third of the movie. This has got to be the Marx Brothers film with the most amount of corny song material. It would be almost 40 of the film's 80 minutes. At least it felt like it. And long songs: some seem to go on for ever. The film also includes some very stale dialogue and preposterous and careless plotting, as though everyone concerned had done it all before, too many times. The genius is still there, you see it flash out at you from time to time. But MGM could have used better writers and not swamped the film in music numbers. Tony Martin is the real star. Even though the Marxes get top billing, they are only a little more than support players. What a shame.

Go West is actually a little better, but not as funny as far as I am concerned. The famous train scene with the frenzied cross cutting is pretty good, but it was done before, and better, by Buster Keaton. The saloon scenes starring Harpo are the best, as he joins a poker game and someone is silly enough to ask him to cut the cards. Later he has a High Noon stakeout with the villain across the saloon floor, but just when the shots are about to be fired Harpo's gun shoots out - a clothes brush.

I wonder if anybody can make a Marx compilation without the songs at least.They did so many great scenes, but fans have to writhe through appalling musical numbers to see them (I'd except A Night at the Opera from this complaint). Do you suppose if Irving Thalberg had lived...
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on January 17, 2013
This DVD is doggone good quality and original black & white, audio is also pretty good quality, I'm sure some restoration has been done but the character and continuity remains unscathed.

Like I was saying before, if you like the more obscure Marx Brothers films this would be a good addition to your library.
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on March 6, 2013
Even though Zeppo was the boring Marx Bro, the movies began to stale after he left. These films are without Zeppo and are a far cry from the stellar comedy The Marx Brothers put out a few years before.
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on December 28, 2014
still my favorite entertainers of all time! my grandchildren love them & no explanations necessary except occasionally when either a no-longer-existing brand name/product or politician is mentioned.
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on July 20, 2015
"The Big Store" is the first Marx Bros film I remember seeing on TV as a child. It is not well regarded, critically, so few copies of it are available.
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on March 9, 2013
I loved these movies! The Marx brothers are great in GO West and The Big Store! It's always great to watch and listen to Chico play the piano!
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