Go West (1940)

“Time wounds all heels.”

The grandfather (Tully Marshall) of a poor woman (Diana Lewis) hoping to marry her fiancee (John Carroll) gives his two fellow prospectors (Chico and Harpo Marx) a seemingly worthless deed, which is soon coveted by two evil railroad barons (Walter Woolf King and Robert Barrat) hoping to sell the land to the U.S. government for $50,000.


Other than the unusual late-career entry Love Happy (1949), Go West is the final Marx Brothers film listed in Peary’s book. [Fortunately, despite his completist tendencies, he omits the notorious Marxian clunkers The Big Store (1941) and A Night in Casablanca (1946).] As a standard vehicle for their talents, it’s certainly competent enough: by this point, audiences knew what to expect from a Marx Brothers film, and the western genre hadn’t yet been milked, so this was as good a choice as any for a setting. While there aren’t really any laugh-out-loud sequences, I did find it interesting to see how Harpo would manage to secure a “harp” in the Old West (he utilizes a Native American loom!) — and there were enough witty verbal exchanges to keep me at least intermittently engaged. Note that the slapstick climax on board a train owes quite a bit to Buster Keaton’s The General (1926); indeed, Keaton actually served as an advisor on the film.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

Must See?
No, though naturally fans will want to check it out.


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