- 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
Starring Groucho Marx
Music by Walter Jermann
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.
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.
The film uses this plot as the framework around which to organize a series of skits. 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.
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.
- Groucho Marx as Dr Hugo Z. Hackenbush
- Chico Marx as Tony
- Harpo Marx as Stuffy
- Allan Jones as Gil Stewart
- Maureen O'Sullivan as Judy Standish
- Margaret Dumont as Emily Upjohn
- Leonard Ceeley as Whitmore
- Douglass Dumbrille as J.D. Morgan
- Esther Muir as Flo Marlowe
- Sig Ruman as Dr Leopold X. Steinberg
- Robert Middlemass as Sheriff
- Vivien Fay as Specialty Dancer
- Ivie Anderson as Specialty Singer
- The Crinoline Choir as Musical Ensemble
- 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.
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.
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.
- "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)
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Marx, Arthur (June 1991). My Life with Groucho: A Son's Eye View. Robson Book Ltd. ISBN 978-0860514947.
- ^ 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.
- ^ "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
- A Day at the Races at the Internet Movie Database
- A Day at the Races at AllRovi
- A Day at the Races at the TCM Movie Database
- Full description of A Day at the Races from Filmsite.org
The films of Sam Wood 1920sDouble Speed · Excuse My Dust · The Dancin' Fool · Sick Abed · What's Your Hurry? · A City Sparrow · Her Beloved Villain · Her First Elopement · The Snob · Peck's Bad Boy · The Great Moment · Under the Lash · Don't Tell Everything · Her Husband's Trademark · Her Gilded Cage · Beyond the Rocks · The Impossible Mrs. Bellew · My American Wife · Prodigal Daughters · Bluebeard's 8th Wife · His Children's Children · The Next Corner · Bluff · The Female · The Mine with the Iron Door · The Re-Creation of Brian Kent · Fascinating Youth · One Minute to Play · Rookies · A Racing Romeo · The Fair Co-Ed · The Latest from Paris · Telling the World · So This Is College · It's a Great Life 1930sThey Learned About Women · The Girl Said No · The Sins of the Children · Way for a Sailor · Paid · A Tailor Made Man · The Man in Possession · New Adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford · Huddle · Prosperity · The Barbarian · Hold Your Man · Christopher Bean · Stamboul Quest · Let 'em Have It · A Night at the Opera · Whipsaw · The Unguarded Hour · A Day at the Races · Madame X · Navy Blue and Gold · Lord Jeff · Stablemates · Goodbye, Mr. Chips · Raffles 1940s 1950sAmbush ProductionsAddress Unknown (1944) (with William Cameron Menzies) The Marx Brothers Family members Associates Films
(Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo)
(Chico, Harpo and Groucho)
Musicals Other AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs 1–10 11–20 21–30 31–40 41–50 51–60 61–70 71–80 81–90 91–100
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