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A Night At The Opera This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Ever since I saw Duck Soup, I've been absolutely in love with the Marx brothers and their sense of humor. Anarchic, pitiless, bold, and hysterical with their play-on-words, the brothers have a style that's firmly withstood the tests of time and has remained just as hilarious throughout the years. Duck Soup, to me, will always be their magnum opus and my favorite comedy of all-time, as it's simply perfect in every way. Because of the success of previous Marx brothers films and a meet-in with an MGM executive, MGM eventually took the Marx brothers from Paramount to create new films. However, because MGM was more family-orientated than Paramount, some drastic changes were made. The mean-spirited nature of the humor was gone, Zeppo was gone, the characters were made more sympathetic, musical numbers were added, etc. and so forth.

The film follows our lovable rogues, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, in a tale that revolves around the culture of the upper-class and of the opera. None of the men start with a huge part in the plot but, as the film progresses, the brothers band together to help a young couple stay together despite the advances of a dubious third man. In typical fashion, jokes are hurled, clever gags are used, and the film retains an atmosphere of fun and humor.

While not at their 'A-game', the Marx brothers are still very funny in A Night at the Opera. All three of the brothers use their respective and clever styles of humor - Groucho with the one-liners, Harpo with the silent humor, and Chico with the dialect and language humor. They're all very humorous when alone, but united they remain one of the greatest comedy trios since Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. In fact, cartoon-like humans are words that would exactly describe the Marx brothers. They're over-the-top, larger than life, and have a very theatrical feeling that makes them so lovable. Goofy and clever as always, the brothers still prove to be some of the greatest comedy masterminds that the world has ever seen...

The technical aspects are, thanks to MGM, very advanced for a Marx brothers film. Take, for example, the sequence when Harpo trapezes around the backstages of the opera house. Regardless of whether a stutnt double was used or not, this sequence is leagues ahead of anything that the brothers could have achieved through Paramount. The sets are larger, the scales are larger, and a bigger world simply translates into a bigger set of targets for the Marx brothers.

The main problems I have with this film, however, derive from MGM's interference with the Marx brothers' style. Because they wanted to make the group more accessible, many things about the humor and characters were changed. For example, the brothers could no longer poke fun at someone unless that individual, man or woman, had previously done something to deserve the torment. If that person was "morally unquestionable", than the brothers were barred from mocking the person at all. Not only that, but the executives demanded that the brothers have "motivations" and "challenges" now. Instead of having an anarchic and silly mess, which is what the Marx brothers symbolize, they're forced to go through plot points and aid with the serious subplot of the film. Speaking of which, this dramatic and overly serious subplot was added in to make the film more friendly to the average viewer. So now, not only are the brothers slightly censored but they're forced to take a part in a dull narrative - a narrative that tries to make them "friendlier". What made the Marx brothers geniuses in Duck Soup was their boldness. They could make fun of anything, anyone, and any idea and not have to have any motivation for it. They lived and laughed for the simple love of living and laughing. Adding unnecessary meaning to the Marx brothers is simply ridiculous.

Still, as aggravating as the changes and bland music numbers were, I'll admit that the romantic leads were slightly charming. It wasn't anything new but, as a wise man once said, "there's nothing new under the sun". In other words, it doesn't have to be new in order to be enjoyable or entertaining.

A Night at the Opera is a fun movie with silly and lovable characters. Though the censorship of the humor and the other dramatic changes are really irksome and idiotic, the film's still great and enjoyable for all that it does right.



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CanadianRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm:
I love the Marx Brothers. Duck soup is my favourite. I love the ending. A night at the Opera was the first Marx Brothers I ever owned.
 
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