11/28/2014  
American Masters: Bing Crosby - Rediscovered on DVD Dec 2Day of the Mummy on DVD Dec 9Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special on DVD Dec 9Field Of Lost Shoes on DVD Dec 2What If on DVD & Blu-ray Nov 25Hart To Hart: Season 3 on DVD Dec 9The Simpsons: Season 17 on DVD & Blu-ray Dec 2

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

One Direction Score Fourth Number One Album With 'Four'...
American Masters: Bing Crosby - Rediscovered on DVD Dec...
Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, Maria Menounos, Mark Balla...
"Dancing with the Stars" season 19 crowns a winner ...
Day of the Mummy on DVD Dec 9...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (BLU-RAY)...
AIN'T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM (BLU...
THE LADY (BLU-RAY)...
SWAMP THING (BLU-RAY)...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...
NORMAN MAILER: THE AMERICAN...
JACK KEROUAC - KING OF THE BEATS...
I Don't Know How She Does It on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 3...

MZ Mark Zimmer

Take Part in a Film Restoration...
STORAGE WARS: SEASON ONE...
LOST KEATON...
BLACK NARCISSUS (BLU-RAY)...
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY (BLU-...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...
BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 1986 WORLD SERIES GAME 6...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...
THE TROUBLE WITH TOLSTOY...
HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWO HOURS...
ANATOMY OF A MURDER...
BASIL DEARDEN'S LONDON UNDERGROUND (ECLIPSE SERIES 25)...

RR Rich Rosell

AFTER.LIFE...
NOTE BY NOTE: THE MAKING OF STEINWAY L1037...
VAMPIRE PARTY...
GIMME SHELTER (BLU-RAY)...
THE CREW...

JC Joel Cunningham

WINGS OF DESIRE...
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS...
MONSOON WEDDING...
PIERROT LE FOU...
SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

DH Dan Heaton

NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
A Night at the Opera (1935)

Fiorello: What'll I say?
Otis B. Driftwood: Tell 'em you're not here.
Fiorello: What if they don't believe me?
Otis B. Driftwood: They'll believe you when you start talking.

- Chico Marx, Groucho Marx

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: May 02, 2004

Stars: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx
Other Stars: Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Margaret Dumont
Director: Sam Wood

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:31m:04s
Release Date: May 04, 2004
UPC: 085393384920
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A-BB- B

DVD Review

The Marx Brothers have been woefully underrepresented on DVD for far too long, so a tip of the cap to Warner Bros., for helping to right many of those wrongs. A Night at the Opera was the brothers' first movie for MGM, and though it may not rise to the manic stratospheric heights of Duck Soup, it is in many respects their first proper movie qua movie. That is, all the previous Marx Brothers pictures were basically vaudevilles, comic bits of business thrown together with just the barest tether of a structure. This film, though, isn't a transposition; it was conceived as a movie, and it works best that way. But the boys are still as funny as ever, and as funny as anyone; whatever it is that has you blue, this is the cure for what ails you.

It's not that their movies are formulaic, exactly, but with Groucho, Harpo, and Chico, we've got three powerful screen personae; their best movies let them do their thing, with the rest of the world serving as their straight men. And heaven knows if any subculture has pretensions worthy of puncturing, it's the world of opera. Groucho plays Otis B. Driftwood, who has improbably convinced the socially ambitious Mrs. Claypool that he can get her in with all the right people—for a fee, of course. It's a set-up that would be laughably implausible in all the wrong ways if Mrs. C wasn't played by Margaret Dumont, Groucho's on-screen foil of choice—the old-world earnestness with which she plays her scenes with Groucho make you wonder if she's in on the joke, and it's hard to know if it's funnier for us if she is or isn't. Harpo plays Tomasso, the much-abused dresser of the evil tenor Rodolfo Lassparri; he is the obstacle between our hero and heroine getting together. They are Ricardo (Allan Jones), with a sweet tenor voice and a sweeter disposition; and Rosa, the leading lady that the rapacious Signor Lassparri has eyes for. Rosa is played by Kitty Carlisle, in what may be her finest hour in the public eye before her many delightful years as a panelist on To Tell the Truth.

Chico plays Fiorello, a self-styled agent for the divas; he promises to deliver Ricardo to the big time. Mostly, of course, the set-up is just a convenient excuse for the Marxes to do their thing, and my, do they ever do it—the whole crew leaves Europe for New York, and the comic set piece in which seemingly dozens of passengers and crew members pile into Groucho's linen closet of a state room. The filmmakers had the bright idea not just to have the boys go from set piece to set piece, but actually to give the movie a story, a structure—admittedly things sag a little bit when the fellas are off screen and we're with the young lovers, but it allows the film to have the kind of dramatic propulsion and comic climax that can be lacking in a movie that's just a series of blackout sketches.

And of course if your movie is called A Night at the Opera, you're sort of obligated to have some opera—the boys and their own musical interludes are fine, but they're at their best and most fun when they're terrorizing a performance of Il Trovatore to achieve their own comic ends. Comedy since Aristophanes is about puncturing pretensions; the Marx Brothers don't take out the long knives, but they're masters at deflating bloated egos without their victims even knowing they've been eviscerated.

The film is also notable for being the Marx trio's first film without the departed and little-missed Zeppo, who was a stiff romantic lead in some of their earlier efforts; and for the fact that the brilliant George S. Kaufman shares screenplay credit. It's hard to know just what is his, but it's also delightful that the leading lady, Miss Carlisle, would go on to marry Kaufman's sometime writing partner, Moss Hart. This is a movie sure to put a smile on your face, no matter your psychological disposition; this is a gift from Warners, so go crazy, because as Chico reminds us, there ain't no sanity clause.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The print has been cleaned up considerably, and looks better than the movie has on previous home video releases; but, for reasons that are made clear on the commentary track, some odd elisions in the editing room give a few of the scenes an odd, jumpy feel. It's a movie that punctures high art, not one that aspires to be high art, and the years haven't been kind, always, to the picture quality; but this is about as good as we can expect, and Warner has given us a clean transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The mono track gets the job done, though this is still a movie from talkies in their infancy, and the concomitant hiss, buzz, and crackle are probably inevitable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Leonard Maltin
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Explain a joke and you'll kill it, and there's a danger of overanalyzing the Marx Brothers; but this wisely chosen package of extras illuminates the movie without taking away any of the fun. Remarks on Marx (33m:56s) is a smart documentary on just how Arthur, Leonard, and Julius became Harpo, Chico, and Groucho; we're instructed that the proper pronunciation of Leonard's screen persona is "chick-o," and not "chee-ko." (Apparently he was something of a wolf, forever chasing the chicks.) Among those interviewed about the feature are Dom De Luise, Carl Reiner, and Larry Gelbart, along with Kitty Carlisle; it's a valentine to the state room sequence especially, and the principal historical point is about what a good influence Irving Thalberg was on the Marxes. An archival clip (05m:21s) of Groucho on The Hy Gardner Show is also principally about Thalberg.

Leonard Maltin provides a chipper commentary track, the strongest points of which are the historical arcana he's tracked down. The original running time of the picture was a good three minutes longer, but all mention of Italy (where the film opens) was snipped out in the cutting room, accounting for some of the jangly shots mentioned earlier. Who deserves the lion's share of credit for the screenplay is a point of much debate; Maltin is particularly good discussing the guys doing dry runs of the material for theater audiences in Salt Lake City, an effort to punch up the jokes, and to know where to leave room for laughs.Two old MGM shorts finish up the package. In the first, Robert Benchley battles insomnia in his classically droll manner, instructing us on How to Sleep (10m:38s). Benchley also appears briefly in the second, full of high style, music and silliness on Sunday Night at the Trocadero (20m:16s), the highlight of which is a brassy cover of I Can't Give You Anything But Love.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

The world is always a better, funnier, sillier, more anarchic place when we're talking about this kind of Marxism, and A Night at the Opera gives us the brothers at their goofiest best. A smart extras package provides a few more chortles, along with some solid information about the Marx brothers, their evolution, and their creative process. These guys have it all over the three tenors, to say nothing of just about anybody else who ever made a screen comedy.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

biography, celebrity, dancewars, derek hough, julianne hough, maria menounos, mark ballas, sadie robertson, geronimo, shake it off, music, one direction, four, take me home, midnight memories, taylor swift, television, dancing with the stars, alfonso ribeiro, witney carson, janel parrish, val chmerkovskiy, horror, demi lavato, miley cyrus, the tj show, heart attack, sonny with a chance, disney channel stars, sports, katy perry, superbowl, half time, comedy, drama, saturday night live, michael che, bill cosby, cameron diaz, beyonce, 7/11, american music awards, sunday, movie, hunger games: mockingjay-part 1, danny strong, christian toto, john nolte, sarah seltzer, documentary, action, foo fighters, beat the bots tour, 2015, sonic highways, fenway park in boston, wrigley field in chicago, citi field in new york, rfk stadium in washington d.c., chris pratt, guardians of the galaxy, dave chappelle, shailene woodley, ansel elgort, steve carell, michael sam, judi dench, esio trot, bbc, philomena, dustin hoffman, richard curtis, sci-fi, james bond, christoph waltz, daniel craig, ralph fiennes, ben whishaw, naomie harris, patrick schwarzenegger, adore you, arnold schwarzenegger, maria schriver, family, the big bang theory, mrs. wolowitz, carol ann susi, breast cancer

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

DVD Marketplace

Snappy Planet

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store