Go West (1940)

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.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Comedy
  • Marx Brothers Films
  • Westerns

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.


One thought on “Go West (1940)

  1. First viewing. Even though I’m not wildly enthusiastic about this Marx entry, it’s still more than pleasant – and an ideal diversion, esp. for younger ffs to watch with elder film fanatics.

    Is it hilariously funny? Well, no – but, if you settle in for the full silliness of Irving Brecher’s script, you should find this rather consistently amusing. There’s a clever-enough plot to hang the jokes onto and director Edward Buzzell knows a thing or three about comic timing (esp. in the noted cash-exchange scene). Some nice tunes are tossed in for good measure, not the least of which are supplied by Chico on piano and Harpo on harp. A particular musical highlight is served up by MacCloy and Groucho, singing ‘You Can’t Argue with Love’ in a saloon.

    Overall, since I wasn’t expecting much (the film career of the Brothers being so hit-or-miss), I was surprised to discover this to be rather entertaining even if not top-tier stuff.

    Controversial trivia: Groucho’s character’s name proved scandalous when the film opened – since ‘S. Quentin Quale’ referred to ‘San Quentin quail’, meaning ‘jail bait’.

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