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Room Service [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball
  • Directors: William A. Seiter
  • Writers: Philip Loeb, Allen Boretz, Glenn Tryon, John Murray, Morrie Ryskind
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • VHS Release Date: July 28, 1998
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000009T77
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,475 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This Broadway farce was tailored as a movie for the Marx Brothers, but the fit wasn't necessarily a good one. Still, a little Marx comedy mayhem is better than none. Groucho plays a theatrical producer holed up in a hotel room; he doesn't have a cent but he does have a sure-fire Broadway hit, if only he can put the funds together to get it on stage. To do so, he's willing to try anything--including convincing the naive playwright that he's got a contagious disease in order to quarantine him and keep the hotel manager at bay. The cast includes Ann Miller and a young Lucille Ball but the humor is not as sharp or quick-witted as the Marx Brothers' usual fare. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
Gags are dragged out way too long.
Andrew McCaffrey
No spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the movie to find out!
Matthew G. Sherwin
The good thing about this movie is, it's still funny.
Elle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Scott T. Rivers VINE VOICE on November 20, 2007
Format: VHS Tape
Based on the hit Broadway play, "Room Service" (1938) remains the only film not written specifically for the Marx Brothers. Except for a few priceless moments, this hectic farce never gels. Groucho, Harpo and Chico are shackled by William A. Seiter's lethargic direction and an incompatible supporting cast. The reliable presence of Margaret Dumont is sorely missed. "Room Service" should be viewed as a well-intentioned, yet unsuccessful experiment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. W. Fuller on November 18, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Room Service" released in 1938, is the Marx Bros. eighth film. Originally based on a play that had nothing to do with either the Marx Bros., or their brand of comedy, little room was created for the trio to go wild in this film. Absent is much of the Marxist humor we are so accustomed to, and want to see in all their films. Also absent is Margaret Dumont. And while "Room Service" has its enjoyable moments, it marks a turning point, a downward slide for the brothers and their future films. All of the blame cannot be given to the Marx Bros., however. RKO, the film's distributor, which had acquired the rights for the film version for a large sum of money, wanted to keep the movie in as much its original form as possible.
Groucho plays producer Gordon Miller. He is staying in the hotel where his production of "Room Service" is about to be performed. It is the opening night, and rehearsals are still going on, as is the construction of the set. The only problem is the bill he has rung up, which the hotel manager keeps asking him for. As the manager happens to be Groucho's brother in law, he is more leinient with him, than he otherwise would be. Still, he threatens to cancel the play if partial payment is not made.
Chico plays, of all things, the director of the play. Some critics have cited flaw in this, as Chico has never been put in such in important position. Indeed, he is hardly involved with the play, spending most of his time with Groucho in his hotel room. Harpo plays Faker Englund, and for the first time in a Marx Bros. film, he has no real purpose for being there. In the original play, Faker Englund was a minor character, with few lines.
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Format: VHS Tape
Room Service features The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball and a rather young Ann Miller in the only film The Marx Brothers ever made at R-K-O pictures. The plot moves slower than the typical Marx Brothers plot and the classic Marx Brothers one liners aren't there often; but Room Service was based on a play not written for The Marx Brothers so it's somewhat forgivable. Unfortunately, Room Service winds up being good but not great. I felt like I was on an airplane out of town to sunny, beautiful Aruba--but after taxiing down the runway the plane came screeching to an abrupt halt, never taking off. Sigh.

The action begins when Gordon Miller (Groucho Marx) is getting deeper and deeper into debt at New York City's Hotel White Way as he struggles to keep himself, the producer of a play, and the cast sheltered in a hotel until they can find a backer for the show. Gordon's buddies Harry Binelli (Chico Marx) and Faker Englund (Harpo Marx) try to help Gordon but they aren't too successful. When the author of the play, Leo Davis (Frank Albertson), comes to New York to stay with Gordon and the cast in the hotel it only means that now there's another person Gordon and his pals must harbor. Meanwhile, Christine Marlowe (Lucille Ball) plays a cast member of the show who is also trying to help get the show onto the stage.

Unfortunately, their luck is running out. A hotel top manager, Gregory Wagner (Donald MacBride) is furious that Gordon and his cast have run up a $1,200 bill (a lot in those days) and they can't pay. Wagner is even more enraged when he finds out that Gordon, his buddies and the cast have been allowed to run up such a high bill because Gordon's brother-in-law, Joseph Gribble (Cliff Dunstan), has been running the hotel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elle on May 15, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This is definitely different than other Marx brothers movies. I think the main reason is that the material wasn't written for them specifically. In fact, they even had to write in a part for Harpo. So yeah, there was no Harpo on the harp, or Chico on the piano, or any moments of utter Marx madness which keeps me in stitches (unless you count Harpo chasing the turkey around the room, and breaking every single breakable thing there in his attempts). The good thing about this movie is, it's still funny. And it wasn't JUST the Marx boys that made it funny - the plot actually had some depth to it too. Which made it almost hard for me to follow at times. But I thought the ending was great. Especially Groucho & Chico just sitting there singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot", and then seeing the same thing in a play a few minutes later...
Yeah, hard to explain. If you like the Marx brothers, I'd recommend you watch this - it's different, but not terrible either.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew McCaffrey VINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
ROOM SERVICE is the only film in the Marx filmography that was not specifically written for the Brothers. It was originally a stage play and adapted to the screen without regard for the peculiar talents of those who would be bringing the production to life. It shows. There's a good rule of thumb in regards to Marx Brothers films. The goofier the name of Groucho's character, the better the film. DUCK SOUP had Rufus T. Firefly. A DAY AT THE RACES had Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush. And ROOM SERVICE has, um, Gordon Miller. Yes, Gordon Miller. That must have had them rolling in the aisles.
The late Gene Siskel claimed that a movie fails if it is less interesting than a hypothetical documentary involving the same cast of actors and actresses sitting around having lunch. His rule definitely applies in this case. The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller. Who wouldn't want to eavesdrop on that meal? But who wants to see them in a movie that treats them all as generic characters? Certainly not me.
There are so many things wrong with ROOM SERVICE that I scarcely know where to start. The fact that it isn't funny is high on my list of complaints. So is the lack of a convincing bad guy. Come on, fellows, this is a Marx Brothers film where I'm supposed to have a stereotypical evil dude to boo and hiss at! The only person here to cheer against only wants Groucho (sorry, Gordon Miller) to pay off his IOUs. Hardly mustache-twirling behavior. And the couple we're supposed to be rooting for isn't much better (at least, I assume we're supposed to be rooting for them). The playwright character (the Zeppo-type straight man) is boring and whiney as all get out.
The thing that gets me about William A. Seiter's direction is how slow it is. Gags are dragged out way too long.
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