Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Classic Double Feature Groucho-Chico-Harpo Room Service At The Circus|
Actor: Lucille Ball
Genres: Kids & Family
Double Feature, "room service and At the Circus starring the Marx Brothers
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One underrated gem and one dud
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 07/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of people really hate 'At the Circus,' but I think it's quite funny. It came out in 1939, a year that spawned an unreal amount of classic films, and for various reasons tends to get overlooked as one of the classic films of that year. I'd also consider this perhaps the third-best film the Marxes made at MGM. There are so many great scenes and moments in this film, although it's not quite a 5-star film. Kenny Baker, who plays Jeff, is very dull and annoying, although not quite as bland and annoying as Tony Martin in 'The Big Store.' (This film also would have been better-served had Jeff stayed knocked out for its duration too instead of quickly coming to himself!) Still, here as in that film the romantic/musical subplot takes up way too much screentime, and the dull musical numbers (including not one but two renditions of "Two Blind Loves") can easily be skipped through without missing that much valuable information. The "Swingali" number is even more dreadful; it's one thing to make some allowances for a film set in the past, knowing that something that may look racist or at least questionable by modern eyes wasn't necessarily meant that way, but this scene is just cringe-worthy. The African-American musical number in 'A Day at the Races' may raise some eyebrows, but at least it can be said we know those people are employed by the racetrack, and apart from a few stereotyped mannerisms and vocal inflections, it's a very upbeat enjoyable scene. Here we have a frightened man (whose job seems to be taking care of and feeding the animals) looking incredibly cartoonish and caricaturish, followed by a bunch of African-Americans (many of them children) showing up out of nowhere and saying a lot of cringe-worthy lines and acting in a very caricaturish way as well. After this musical number and spouting off things that probably no real person of the time would have said, they just disappear and are never seen again. What remains of the movie apart from the "Swingali" scene and the boring subplot is quite funny, such as the scene in the midget's room, the badge scene, and the hilarious ending scene (though it's incredibly lame how these grown men are all supposed to be so afraid of what is so obviously a person in a gorilla suit, or in this case two different people in two different gorilla suits).
'Room Service' is pretty awful. It's not that it's necessarily a bad unwatchable film, just that it isn't very funny and is a bit boring and serious (due in large part to how it was based on a stage play). The requisite romantic lead (who at least doesn't sing any songs) is quite dull and unmemorable, one of their worst pseudo-Zeppos (what was he thinking, leaving the act?), not really someone we care about. (Although when he represented his brothers during their salary negotiations with RKO Studios, the only time they made a film for this studio, he supposedly said he would rejoin the group if their demands weren't met.) There are some good scenes in this film (so pricelessly ironic how one of the few funny bits in this turkey involves an actual turkey!), but overall it's just not a very good comedy vehicle. The bad guys aren't even that bad either, and the problem to be overcome isn't that gripping or important--come on, trying to get out of paying a hotel bill? It's an interesting way to kill time, but still not something most people are apt to want to watch very often.
The only bonus features related to the films themselves are the trailers; the others are a bunch of shorts from the era, some cartoons and some Our Gang shorts. Some people out there must be enjoying them, but they don't really do anything for me other than giving an idea of the type of things that might have been shown in the theatre before the feature began in the late Thirties."