The Marx Brothers Collection (A Night at The Opera/A Day at The Races/A Night in Casablanca/Room Service/At the Circus/Go West/The Big Store)
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Marx Brothers Collection (DVD) (5-Pack)
When it comes to long-awaited treats like The Marx Brothers Collection, you can never get too much of a good thing. These seven comedies can't compare to the sheer lunacy of the five classics (The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup) that the Marx Bros. made for Paramount between 1929 and 1933 (available in The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection), but when uber-producer Irving Thalberg signed Groucho, Harpo, and Chico to an MGM contract in 1935 (by which time sibling costar Zeppo had become the team's off-screen manager), he knew just how to cure their box-office blues. As a result, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races were critical and commercial hits, lavishly produced according to the "Tiffany" studio's golden-age formula of glamorous set pieces and musical numbers combined with sensible plots that smoothly integrated snappy, well-written Marxian antics. Opera is the jewel of this set, with timeless scenes (the Stateroom, the Groucho-Chico contract negotiation, etc.) that rank among the greatest bits of silver-screen comedy... not to mention Groucho's flirtatious insults at Margaret Dumont's upper-crust expense.
A Day at the Races deserves near-equal acclaim ("Get-a your tootsie-fruitsie ice cream!"), but Thalberg's death in 1937 dealt a devastating blow, and the Marxes suffered from studio indifference, resulting in a succession of comedies that are timelessly enjoyable even as they fall prey to diminishing returns. By the time they made Go West and The Big Store, the Marxes were out of their element, and a few of the musical interludes indulge racial stereotypes that were common in the studio era. Despite this, these movies remain fresh and frantic, and Warner Bros. (holder of the RKO and MGM libraries) has done a marvelous job of packaging The Marx Brothers Collection to nostalgically approximate the filmgoing experience of the 1930s and '40s, with vintage shorts (Our Gang, Robert Benchley comedies, MGM cartoons, etc.) from the time of each feature's original release. Archival materials are slim but worthwhile (especially Groucho's 1961 interview with TV talk-show host Hy Gardner), and while Glenn Mitchell's commentary on Races is sparse and superficial, Leonard Maltin brings his usual superfan's enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge to bear on a full-length Opera commentary track. The new documentaries are somewhat redundant, but essential viewing for Marx Bros. neophytes. With all seven films presented in pristine condition, this is definitely a Marx Brothers Collection worth having. --Jeff Shannon
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Top customer reviews
As usual, these Marx Borthers movies consist of commedic segments, often having little to do with the thinly plotted movie. They are skits we've all seen before, but sometimes with a twist, usually referring back to the main movie. Over all, a fun set. They will NOT make more.... These are to be enjoyed!
"Go West" (1940) which is often underrated and is also funny especially when Groucho gets swindled at the beginning of the movie by Chico and his brother Rusty (Harpo)for money for a train ticket.The other funny scenes includes the chopping up of the train passenger cars to supply more fuel for the train engine. Even as late as 1940 in "Go West", the Marx Brothers still look young and fresh (Even though they were in their early to mid 50's in age). "Room Store" (1938) is a departure from their usual comedy of the Marx Brothers and is not too funny. "At The Circus" (1939) seems to return them to the usual zany comedy, but the laughs are less. "Go West" sees them return (about comparable to "Day At The Races"). "The Big Store" (1941) is a weaker effort than "Go West", but still is enjoyable as an afternoon movie with a few chuckles and laughs. "Night In Casablanca" (1947) has a return of the laughs and mayhem, but you can see the Marx Brothers are getting older.
I was a little disappointed by Warner Brothers lack of packaging for these films. It would have been nice to have had a small booklet giving a brief history of the Marx Brothers. I know the movie is the most important, but still, it would have been nice.
I read the reviewers who moan about the perfect set should include "Animal Crackers/Duck Soup/Horse Feathers/Monkey Business along with "Night At The Opera", but those films (AC,DS,HF & MB) are under Univeral Pictures and were released on DVD back in 1999-2001. They can't be included for obvious reasons.
Someone being introduced to the Marx Brothers for the first time in this set, "Night At The Opera" is the best to start out with and go from there with "Day at The Races and Go West". Other than the packaging, the set completes their best movies on film (including the Universal films--Animal Crackers, Duck Soup, Horse Feathers). If you have the Universal films and this set, "You're set". Its great to have the Marx Brothers on DVD. Hopefully, future generations will enjoy them.
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