Doctor Hugo Hackenbush, Tony, and Stuffy try and save Judy's farm by winning a big race with her horse. There are a few problems. Hackenbush runs a high priced clinic for the wealthy who don't know he has his degree in Vet... more »erinary Medicine.« less
"I decided to watch this film again after an absence of probably 30 years when I learned that Dorothy Dandridge had a small part and I wanted to see if I could find her in the crowd. I'm not sure if I identified her or not but unexpectedly, I was absolutely blown away by the cameo of Ivy Anderson in "All God's Chillun Got Rythym". Her timing and delivery couldn't have been better and I strongly disagree with those who find the number too long and offensively stereotypical. I speak as one whose musical tastes are probably 80% classical and I do not often find much in popular music that I am enthusiastic about. Of course, the style and mannerisms of the black actors are dated and even stereotypical in the dance number that follows. But it has energy and enthusiasm and the paticipants at least seem to be having fun. The Marx brothers are not afraid to even poke fun at race issues by smearing grease on their face. In fact there are other ethnic stereotypes in the movie such as Chico's Italian persona and the German doctor that no one seems to object to because it is all in good fun and not malicious. In fact, the black race track workers are depicted sympathetically while the villains are greedy and underhanded whites trying to fix the race and steal the sanitarium. They lose and the race track workers stage a triumphal march at the end. I think for 1937 this is actually a pretty progressive film in terms of how black people were portrayed. I think that white audiences in 1937 had a mind set which limited how sympathically black people could be portrayed and humorous situations were a general rule.
As for the rest of the movie there are some excellent and funny scenes that many have discussed before and I agree that some of the musical numbers with Alan Jones are too long and no longer that musically interesting. But there are lots of funny scenes and as usual, the brothers point their slings and arrows at the pompous and pretentious and malicious. That's why we can still appreciate them. And for those who find the "God's Chillun" number problematic, you're too politically correct. We have gone way beyond the 1930's image. Regretably, current stereotypes while sometimes striving for realism may lose empathy."
"A Day At the Races" - Marxs' last great film
T. W. Fuller | Wheeling, IL. USA | 10/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""A Day At the Races", the Marx Bros. seventh film, released in 1937, is their last real great film in the sense of its overall humor and comic genous.Groucho plays a horse doctor, Dr. Hackenbush, who is more interested on betting on horses than treating them. The plot revolves around a sanatorium which is loosing money. Run by Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan), she is offered five thousand dollars to sell it to a shady character, Morgan (Douglas Dumbrille). He wants the sanitorium for his race track. However, the sanitorium's leading patient, Mrs. UpJohn (Margaret Dumont) comes to the aid of Judy Standish when she offers finicial support - but only if she hires Dr. Hackenbush. Of course nobody knows he is just a horse doctor.Harpo plays a jockey. Chico (Tony) plays the sanitarium's loyal employee. When he overhears the conversation about Hackensbush, he quickly wires him to come. He also sells ice cream and racing tips on the side. In a later scene, one of the film's highlights, he sells Groucho a library's worth of books which are intended to have the name of the horse and jockey in a particular race. As is many Marx Bros. films, there is a love interest. This one involves Allan Jones (Gil Stewart) and Judy Standish. He spends his life's savings on a horse, Highhat, in the hopes it will win a race and enough money to bail the sanatorium out of its near bankruptcy.Over-all, this is a fast paced comedy, expect for the songs which really have no place in the film, and seem to go on forever. However, they may be fast forwarded through.The film's highlights include a roarous scene with the Marx Bros. and a seductress, Flo Marlowe (Esther Muir). Morgan uses her to seduce Groucho, and have Dumont come in on the act, knowing she would quickly dispense of his services, and the sanatoruim would be his. However, Hapro and Chico, through a series of hilarious events, foil the plan.Another highlight comes when Sig Ruman, playing Dr. Leopold Steinburg, comes to examine Dumont and prove there is nothing really the matter with her. The Marx Bros. have another of their field days.The climax comes when Highhat is entered in a race, and Morgan tries everything he can to keep him out of it. The Marx Bros. see to it that Highhat remains in the race, at any cost."A Day At the Races" contains enough comic humor and classic Marx Bros. material to be considered a great film, and still stands the test of time as a Marx Bros. classic."
Doctor! My metabolism!
T. W. Fuller | 09/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although A Night At The Opera is the more widely celebrated, I personally find A Day At The Races the better of the two films. The plot is stronger, the romantic subplot is well integrated into the film and not intrusive, and the few musical numbers are entertaining if rather spurious.Much the success of Marx Brothers' brand of comedy arises from their dissonance when placed in a "high society" setting peopled with formally behaved characters. This is particularly true of A Day At The Races, in which horse-doctor Groucho impersonates a society doctor to treat the formidable Margaret Dumont. Dumont's work, too often overlooked in the wake of Marx Brothers lunacy, is nothing short of brilliant in this film, and provides the perfect foil for the hysteria created by Groucho, Harpo, and Chico. The supporting cast is equally fine.The film includes two of the funniest bits of work the Marx Brothers ever put on celluloid: the call from Florida scene, in which Groucho runs riot with the switchboard, and the examination scene, in which the brothers take a diagnoistic gander at Dumont, who is "afflicted with nothing in its most violent form."An equal to the Marx Brothers earlier work at Paramount, A Day at the Races is pure subversive hilarity, as funny today as when it first hit the screen some seventy years ago."
Still a classic
rynnfrink | 02/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've laughed as much at scenes in this movie as I have at any Marx Bros. movie. There are really a lot of classic scenes in here. Whether it's Groucho faking the phone call or Grocuho examining Harpo or all three of them examining Margartet Dumont you just cannot go wrong. Also how can anyone not love the scene when Groucho is trying to seduce that woman in his room and Harpo and Chico are trying to stop him. Everytime I see Harpo in that Sherlock Holmes type outfit with those dogs I get a big smile on my face. So the comedy is no problem in this film. There's plenty of it to go around. I guess the only real problem are some of the musical numbers. But they can be easily forwarded through if need be. I personally would have liked them not to be in there but that was the way movies were at that time. It was the depression and studios tried to put lots of big, lavish production numbers in to distract people from their economic situation. The trouble was that they just were not needed in a Marx Bros. movie. Their comedy was more than enought to distract anyone from anything. So despite those songs I still cannot bring myself to give this anything other than five stars."
rynnfrink | 12/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is definitely my favorite Marx Bros. film; one of the funniest I've seen! Their unique, timeless humor is eminent throughout the entire movie. When the sanitarium is in danger of going bankrupt, Dr. Hackenfuss is called in to save it. After that, it's literally just one hilarious scene after another: Groucho being gulled into buying books on what horse to bet on; Harpo getting a check-up; Groucho's infamous snappy comebacks to everything, etc. It also has some lovely song and dance numbers. This is an undoubtedly wonderful film!"