But when I worked at Generation X video I was determined to watch all the Classic films from the top of the shelf to the bottom, and the Marx Brothers were at the top.
The first film I saw was "Room Service," which is pretty awful but started two obsessions in one swoop: the need to find out who this "Ann Miller" person was (pre-nose job, only 15, terrorized by Harpo behind the scenes), and the inkling that there was more to the Marxes than I'd thought. And I was right.
It still amazes me that, by the time their first film had been released, they were already up in years and late in their careers. That film, of course, was "The Cocoanuts," and it stands up both as typical Marx insanity AND an example of Hollywood learning -- from scratch -- how to make a movie with this new sound technology.
Anyway, one great thing about reading "The New Yorker" is finding reviews of films and plays that were written when the films and plays first came out. It was fun reading about "Metropolis" ("gosh it's weird, those Germans are really on to something, it features a sexy robot") and now, on May 28, 1927:
The return engagement is the Marx Brothers in "The Cocoanuts," at the Century. It is now a platitude to say that no intellect has been found profound enough to drain the heady madness of "The Cocoanuts" at a single draught. True, the Florida real-estate theme on which "The Cocoanuts" is built has come to seem like a series of kicks at a pecurliarly destitute cripple, the music has died a little, and the settings and costumes were never much--still, "The Cocoanuts" must be seen again. An arabesque of wisecracking, clowning and satirization, reaching its climax in the immortal viaducts conference, "The Cocoanuts" can be relied on to induce a glorious condition somewhere between vertigo and hysteria.And yes, from the very beginning (1925) this paper has been full of details about the "Florida real-estate theme." I didn't realize it until now, but "The Cocoanuts" must have been very topical when it first appeared on the stage. In 1927, when the stage show returned to New York, the theme was getting old. By 1929, when the film was actually made, it must have been positively out-of-date.