I like Monkey Business a lot. It has some great stuff in it.
As Stanton says, the rule of thumb is that the earlier Paramount films are the most consistant. At this time they were still given pretty much free rein and their films had, for the most part, been tried out on the road. Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers started as Broadway vehicles for the brothers the others were ‘road tested’ to gauge audience reaction and fine tune the gags.
[quote=“Stanton, post:16, topic:1833”]The best Marx films are the first 5, the Paramount films. With Duck Soup being the best (also the best directed by Leo McCarey) and Monkey Business maybe being a bit more conventional than the others.
After there change to MGM all went down. I never understood why A Night at the Opera is called a masterpiece. It’s so much of this cheesy MGM stuff in it, all these terrible romantic sub plots and this singing parts which aren’t a frenetic parody anymore, but simply sentimental love songs.
MGM pulled out their teeth quickly.[/quote]
I agree that MGM diluted the Marx Bros but, credit to Irving Thalberg where it is due, without this approach the Brothers wouldn’t have made another picture after 1933. We may think of Duck Soup as a classic but it pretty much bombed at the box office and Paramount had dropped them. They were a few years in the wilderness before Thalberg signed them for MGM and reinvented the structure of their movies. The romance and music seems like an annoying interruption these days but it made the Marxes more palatable to a general audience back then.
As for Night at the Opera, I think it is considered such a classic because it contains some of their best scenes despite all the singing/kissing nonsense. The stateroom scene and the sanity clause scene stand as high as anything they did. Like Scherps said, you just have to consider the other stuff as a drinks opprtunity.