(1931) director Norman Z. McLeod
The second in my four film New Years Eve Marx Brothers marathon, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies, was Monkey Business, a film I don’t think I’d ever seen. It was the first of their films to be shot in Hollywood (the prior two were filmed in their native New York), and it has a bit of a genre film feel to it.
The film starts out with the four brothers stowed away on an ocean liner in barrels in the hold. After being ferreted out, they run rampant all over the ship, Harpo chasing women, Zeppo schmoozing another, and Groucho and Zeppo doing their darnedest to confound, confuse and rankle the crew. It’s around this point that they end up getting hired on by two gangsters, one more of a thug, the other a wealthy racketeer whose daughter Zeppo has fallen for. Playing both sides against the middle, they are given pistols, which they randomly point around at one another.
After the ship hits port in New York, the brothers wind up entangled in the conflagration between the two, with the more dastardly one kidnapping the daughter (Thelma Todd). This leads to a finale in which the brothers rescue Todd from the villains, with Zeppo going mano y mano with the regular heavy. The ending is a pretty Hollywood one, rescuing the girl and all, even with a rough and rolling fistfight.
All told, there is a lot of funny stuff (as you would expect from the Marx brothers). It was cool to see these films in the order in which they were produced.