A Day at the Races (film)

A Day at the Races (film)
A Day at the Races

theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Sam Wood
Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Lawrence Weingarten (uncredited)
Written by Robert Pirosh
George Seaton
George Oppenheimer
Starring Groucho Marx
Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
Allan Jones
Maureen O'Sullivan
Dudley Dickerson
Music by Walter Jermann
Bronislau Kaper
Franz Waxman
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing by Frank E. Hull
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) June 11, 1937
Running time 111 minutes
Country United States
Language English

A Day at the Races is the seventh film starring the three Marx Brothers, with Margaret Dumont, Allan Jones, and Maureen O'Sullivan. Like their previous MGM feature A Night at the Opera, this film was a major hit.[1]

Contents

Plot

Hugo Z. Hackenbush is a veterinarian illegally employed as the medical director of the Standish Sanitarium, which is owned by Judy Standish. One of things they have to do to save the sanitarium from developers is to keep Mrs. Upjohn as a patient. She, of course, insists on being treated only by Dr. Hackenbush. To try to expose Groucho as a fraud, the bad guys call in Dr. Steinberg.[2][3]

The film uses this plot as the framework around which to organize a series of skits.[2] Among them is the "Tutsi Fruitsy Ice Cream" skit, in which Tony gives Hackenbush a tip on a horse, but all in code, so that Hackenbush has to buy book after book from Tony to decipher the code.[3]

Another skit involves Tony and Stuffy trying to interrupt a frame job involving Hackenbush's seduction by a femme fatale. In the end, failing to dissuade Hackenbush from his interest in the woman, they end up disrupting the frame-up by concealing themselves under layers of wallpaper, using a bucket perched on Stuffy's head to hold the paste.

The overall plot involves Tony and Stuffy's friend, Gil Stuart, and his difficulties with his racehorse, Hi-Hat, which seems hopeless as a racer. After the police eventually come after the gang, Stuffy and Hi-Hat make their escape as the horse bounds over various obstacles with ease. At this sight, Gil realizes that Hi-Hat is actually an excellent steeplechase horse and enters him into the appropriate race. Unfortunately, the villains attempt to keep him out of the race and the gang must resort to various wacky tricks to buy time to get the horse into competition. In the race itself, the gang remembers that Hi-Hat is afraid of one of the villains and they pull more tricks to make the villain excited enough to yell in anger and inspire the horse to increase his speed. Eventually, there is a spill at the water obstacle and Stuffy and another jockey have to remount and Stuffy appears to lose the race. However, Stuffy realizes that he was riding the other jockey's horse and the judges correct the decision and Hi-Hat is declared the winner.

Cast

Cast notes
  • In My Life with Groucho: A Son's Eye View, Arthur Marx relates that in his latter years Groucho increasingly referred to himself by the name Hackenbush.[4]

Production

The screenplay went through numerous outlines, treatments and drafts before arriving at its final version. As they had with A Night At The Opera, the Brothers honed the comic material during a Vaudeville tour.

Groucho's character was originally named "Quackenbush" but was changed to "Hackenbush" over fear of a lawsuit by a real Dr. Quackenbush.

During production, Irving Thalberg, who had brought the Marx Brothers to MGM, died suddenly of pneumonia at age 37. It is generally believed that after Thalberg's death the studio never gave the proper care to the Marx Brothers and that the three movies made at MGM afterward are weaker than the first two as a result.

Music

The songs in the film, by Bronislaw Kaper, Walter Jurmann, and Gus Kahn, are "Tomorrow Is Another Day," and "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" (which also featured Ivie Anderson and other members of Duke Ellington's orchestra). Two more songs were filmed but cut. One, "Dr. Hackenbush", was sung by Groucho about what a great doctor he is ("No matter what I treat them for they die from something else"). The other, "A Message From The Man In The Moon", is missing from the main part of the film but shows up in the titles, some incidental music, and is "reprised" by Groucho for the big, happy ending. The DVD release includes a recently rediscovered audio recording of the song, performed by Allan Jones.

The film also features a lindy hop dance sequence set to the tune of "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm", and featuring the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, including Frankie Manning, Al Minns and Norma Miller. The dance sequence was nominated for the short-lived Academy Award for Best Dance Direction.

Musical numbers

  • "Tomorrow Is Another Day"
  • "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm"
  • "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen"
  • "A Message from the Man in the Moon"
  • "Cosi Cosa" (instrumental version at the race track)

Critical recognition

In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked A Day at the Races as the 59th funniest film of all time in its AFI's 100 Years…100 Laughs.[5][6]

References

Notes
  1. ^ Giddins, Gary (June 18, 2000). "There Ain't No Sanity Claus". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/18/books/there-ain-t-no-sanity-claus.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Schallert, Edwin (June 17, 1937). "Marx Brothers Run Riot In "A Day At The Races"". Los Angeles Times: p. A15. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/395315781.html?dids=395315781:395315781&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Jun+17%2C+1937&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Tinee, Mae (July 3, 1937). "Marx Brothers Go Fast Pace in 'Day at Races'". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 9. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/440855972.html?dids=440855972:440855972&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Jul+03%2C+1937&author=&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=Marx+Brothers+Go+Fast+Pace+in+'Day+at+Races'&pqatl=google. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  4. ^ Marx, Arthur (June 1991). My Life with Groucho: A Son's Eye View. Robson Book Ltd. ISBN 978-0860514947. 
  5. ^ Boyar, Jay (June 11, 2000). "Make 'em laugh! The American Film Institute will recognize the 100 best comedies of the century". Orlando Sentinel: p. F1. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/orlandosentinel/access/55077250.html?dids=55077250:55077250&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Jun+11%2C+2000&author=Jay+Boyar%2C+Sentinel+Movie+Critic&pub=Orlando+Sentinel&desc=MAKE+'EM+LAUGH!+THE+AMERICAN+FILM+INSTITUTE+WILL+RECOGNIZE+THE+100+BEST+COMEDIES+OF+THE+CENTURY&pqatl=google. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ "America's Funniest Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/laughs100.pdf?docID=252. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
Further reading
  • Elisabeth Buxbaum: Veronika, der Lenz ist da. Walter Jurmann – Ein Musiker zwischen den Welten und Zeiten. Mit einem Werkverzeichnis von Alexander Sieghardt. Edition Steinbauer, Wien 2006, ISBN 3-902494-18-2

External links


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  • A Day at the Races (album) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir A Day at the Races. A Day at the Races Album par Queen Sortie 10 décembre 1976 (UK) décembre 1976 (US) …   Wikipédia en Français

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