Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1931. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by S.J. Perelman, Will B. Johnstone, additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman. Cinematography by Arthur L. Todd. Produced by Herman J. Mankiewicz. Music by John Leipold, Ralph Rainger. Production Design by Harry Caplan.
Another hilarious Marx Brothers film, this one bearing the distinction of being the first to be written directly for the screen and not adapted from one of their plays. The comedy troupe (three goofs and one straight man) stow away on a cruiseliner, with moony Zeppo falling in love with a beautiful young woman while Groucho, Chico and Harpo cause no end of mayhem on board. The plotting is shabby, but who gives a rat’s ass when the hijinks are this funny. Groucho’s mastery of both silly and witty humour is unparalleled, and any excuse to watch his finesse is fine by me. The writing would get sharper, with films like Duck Soup and Horse Feathers having more sly political connotations, but even still, this Business is worth your patronage. Not to be confused with the Howard Hawks comedy made twenty years later.