“You’ve got the brain of a four-year-old boy — and I’ll bet he was glad to get rid of it.”
The new president (Groucho Marx) of Huxley University hires two bumbling spies (Chico and Harpo Marx) to help his institution win a big football game against a rival university.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Marx Brothers Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “frantic, anarchical comedy” is “regarded as the most surrealistic of the Marx Brothers films”, given that it “takes us zooming from one senseless scene to the next and through completely absurd bits of dialogue”. Peary calls out several particularly “memorable scenes”, including the opening scene (“Groucho addressing the faculty and students”):
“Groucho trying to gain entrance into a speakeasy by guessing the doorman Chico’s secret word”:
and “Groucho taking ‘college widow’ Thelma Todd canoeing” (during which “she falls overboard and he tosses her a peppermint Life Saver”).
I’m less a fan of the infamously climactic “wild, wild football game”, though I’ll concede its slapstick brilliance from afar.
Listen for plenty of the Brothers’ characteristically zany verbal wit:
Professor Wagstaff: Tomorrow we start tearing down the college.
Professors: But, Professor, where will the students sleep?
Professor Wagstaff: Where they always sleep: in the classroom.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The infectiously hummable opening song (“Whatever It Is, I’m Against It”)
- Plenty of classic Marxian dialogue, one-liners, puns, and scenarios:
“Why don’t you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out?”
Yes. Most film fanatics will be curious to check out all of the Marx Brothers’ early Paramount Studios classics, including this one.