Room Service / William A. Seiter (1938). RKO Radio Pictures. An anomaly as the only Marx Brothers movie not written especially for the trio. It was adopted from a door slamming Broadway farce that had closed the previous year after running 61 weeks. The plot is the oft used story of a theatrical entrepreneur trying to find funding for his new show and fending off enemies and creditors until his play can be seen and become a hit. Gordon Miller (Groucho) is the producer hold up in a hotel room owing over $1,000 for his room and 22 cast members. Benilli (Chico), Bunion in the play, is always introduced as Miller’s treasurer. He was the director of the play within the play in the original but who can imagine Chico as a stage director? Harpo is a man without a character but works in some of his surreal pantomime episodes which are some of the highlights. Harking back to “The Coconuts” (1929) when he ate a sponge, buttons off a bellhop’s uniform, and drank out of an inkwell, here he picks up a wrapped sandwich and eats it, wax paper and all. For all the frantic situations and screaming, arm-waving tantrums, the movie seems to last forever. It doesn’t have the forward thrust in absurdity that the best Marxism has. Groucho manages the lines well enough, but Chico can’t get all of them out in his faux Italian accent. Further, while Groucho is a usually a pomposity puncturer and minor con man who would like to marry the rich widow, Gordon Miller is an actual criminal, committing outright fraud several times. I was pleased to see this again after many years – I am always glad to sit down with the Marx Brothers – but it will probably be many more years before popping this into my player again. Lucille Ball and Ann Miller are in the cast but Lucy isn’t funny and Ann doesn’t dance. Another strike against it.
No Dad Bod for Harpo at age 50
I don't think you fully understand, Mr. Bigelow. You've been murdered.