My List: The Cocoanuts (1929)

Rating: 8/10

If you haven’t seen a Marx Brothers movie before, remember that they are usually very low on plot, but very high on comedy. Also, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, the “main three” of the Marx Brothers, are basically playing the same characters in every movie. Groucho is normally someone with a little power, here he’s in charge of a hotel, and Chico and Harpo are partners in crime, though while Chico is always looking for a scam to pull off, Harpo, the silent brother who never once talked on screen during his life, is always just in it to have fun.

This is their first movie onto the silver screen, and you can see there are a few problems that you don’t really expect if you’ve seen any of their other films. For one it’s a half-hour too long, something I think they realized soon after this movie is that their films are so lacking in plot or character development, that there really isn’t enough to get invested in for their films to be much longer than a single hour. Also, here it felt like they were trying too hard to have something of a consistent plot throughout the film, while in later films they embrace the fact that they’re brand of humor works best when the plot is just as nonsensical. 

The humor though, really shines through. Along with their, maybe one too many, musical numbers which don’t further the “plot” but they do provide just as much entertainment as their humorous sketches. It’s just delightful watching them as they do their thing, and you see the beginning of the comedy greats they become.

Why it’s on my list: The Marx Brothers begin here, and though they all fought mercilessly to keep the film from releasing, once it was the audiences thought it just as delightful as I’ve just described. Who’s to say who is right, but as far as early Marx-Brothers comedies go, this one shouldn’t be missed.


+8: Really good comedy from a team of comedy greats

-1: Too long for this kind of comedy

+1: Great sketches and musical numbers

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