The Marx Brothers

film 4 of 6

Horse Feathers

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

Returning to watch all of these films is making me wonder if internal evaluative hierarchies might be so much ideology, or sales pitch, or intellectual laziness. Why is Duck Soup necessarily the best one? From Animal Crackers to MGM, they’re all of a piece, dangerously anarchic, charmingly, even sweetly familial/ethnic—aggressively leading edge. Free men. And themselves too—imagining between the lines, reading the evidence, one can read these as extremely radical oppositions to all sorts of H-wood moonshine/nonsense. Modern and ancient, combining Brecht and the Passion Play. Groucho’s opening number is jaw dropping. Zeppo is some vulgarian, and provides a kind of unexpected, under the radar charge. Look how attractive and confident he is. A Jew has infiltrated! Have you ever wondered how on earth Mel Brooks went so far? Or maybe the entire institution of Hollywood? Well, here.