Lots of fun + Marilyn Monroe's first noteworthy role
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While it's not the best of the Marx Brothers movies, Love Happy is important for several reasons. First, it is the Marx Brothers' last film together; second, Harpo Marx wrote the story; and third, it marks Marilyn Monroe's big screen debut (not counting the exceedingly small bit parts she had landed before 1949). I am sure I'm not the only person to buy this movie just to see Marilyn, and she is unmistakably dazzling in her brief appearance, making quite an impression on Groucho and a number of contemporary moviegoers. While you may see her featured prominently on the video jacket, be aware that her screen time, as memorable as it is, lasts no more than a minute. With Groucho's own time fairly limited, the onus for making this movie funny and enjoyable falls on Harpo and Chico Marx, and they don't disappoint.Groucho plays detective Sam Grunion, and he narrates the first two-thirds of the movie before actually getting involved in the action. He is on the trail of the stolen Romanoff diamonds, but initially he is two steps behind Madame Egelichi and her henchmen (one of whom is Raymond Burr is a very un-Perry Mason-like role). As things work out, Egelichi is herself two steps behind Harpo, who unwittingly snatches the can of sardines holding the diamonds while filching food to feed a group of struggling off-Broadway players. These players aren't crucial to the plot, but Vera-Ellen shines as Maggie Phillips, dancer, actress, and all-around enchanting young woman. Chico worms his way into the production, serves as Harpo's interpreter in a couple of crucial scenes, and helps Harpo protect Maggie and the other players from danger. Groucho joins in at the end to make the diamond-hunting foray a full-blown farce worthy of the Marx Brothers. Of course, it wouldn't be a Marx Brothers movie without some music, and Love Happy features two excellent performances. Chico shows off on the piano, and Harpo treats us to a beautiful harp solo. I can't say Love Happy made me bust a gut laughing, but it was certainly a very enjoyable movie. As a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, I also have to say that her performance, short as it is, was wonderful and in no way disappointing. I would have liked to have seen more of Groucho in the movie, but Harpo and Chico prove rather convincingly that the Marx Brothers are much more than just Groucho."
Marx Brothers "lite" is still pretty good.
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 03/13/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This modest little movie gets disparaged as a tepid finale to the Marx Brothers film career. It's obvious from the start that the inspired lunacy of "A Night at the Opera" or the best of the early Paramount films is missing, but even Marx Brothers "lite" will suffice for off-the-wall comedy fans. Many of the familiar Marx elements are present. Harpo, for example, frantically whistles, pantomimes, and charades as he tries to deliver urgent news to a bewildered Chico. In fact, this is amusingly done twice; the first time Harpo "phones" it in, trying to get Chico to read his mind! Harpo has been described as an enchanted elf, and his otherworldly qualities are displayed in his foraging talents used to feed the troupe of hungry actors, and the marvelous way he blends right in with the electric signs during the movie's climactic roof-top chase. Groucho's role is smaller than usual, but he has more than just a few unrelated scenes, as has been reported elsewhere. Marilyn Monroe does her breathless walk-on and Groucho leeringly puts an hilarious exclamation point to her very brief appearance. Harpo plays the harp, Chico plays the piano, and Groucho smokes his cigar and wiggles his eyebrows; all in true Marx Brothers fashion. The one Marx Brothers element that is conspicuous by its absence is a typical Groucho-Chico exchange in classic "Why A Duck" tradition. There is a weak effort to introduce a musical comedy plot with its obligatory singing, dancing, and romantic complications. Use the fast-forward control to get back to Harpo and the guys.Granted, this film isn't the greatest Marx Brothers comedy, but dismissing the entire movie is a mistake. Good second string stuff."
What a find!
Nicholas Santa Maria | Redondo Beach, CA | 12/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a life long Marx Brothers fanatic. I've seen Love Happy more than 25 times during that span. Now I feel as though I'm seeing for the very first time. Apparently, there are 6 minutes in this version that have been missing from every print I've seen previously, and it turns out that this 6 minutes is essential. I always thought that Love Happy was a choppy mess of a film (although I always preferred it to Go West, and Room Service....sorry), but now, with this pristine print that has obviously been struck from the original negative, it is a smooth, funny, and very entertaining romp. The print makes it look like a bigger budgeted film, and the added footage makes it a far nicer ride. The film itself is not prime Marx Bros., but I think it is a much better film than the print that has been circulating for years. You'll just have to see for yourself. I am flabergasted that this release hasn't been more touted because, in my opinion, it is a major find.
Now how about a clean copy of Horsefeathers????"
The Marxes' Finale is Really Harpo's Show...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 12/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Love Happy" is remembered, primarily, as the last "Official" Marx Brothers film (they would all appear in brief vignettes in "The Story of Mankind", seven years later, but not as a team), but if the film were a baseball statistic, it would have an asterik (*), because it truly isn't a showcase of the brothers, together, but a comedy starring Harpo, with Chico in a supporting role, and Groucho doing narration, and making brief appearances, occasionally.
As a comedy, "Love Happy" is so-so, with Harpo providing some genuine laughs, particularly during an interrogation scene with villains Raymond Burr, Ilona Massey, Eric Blore, and Bruce Gordon, and in the rooftop finale, with Harpo offering the same kind of outrageous physical humor that he had demonstrated in the classic Paramount and MGM comedies. But the rest of the plot, while mildly entertaining, is simply a musical variation of "Room Service", as an impoverished group of performers (headed by Paul Valentine and future star Vera-Ellen) struggle to put on a Broadway musical, 'spiced' up with a stolen jewelry subplot that isn't that interesting.
The back story of the film is possibly more entertaining than the movie, itself; Harpo had wanted to make a solo film throughout the forties, and had tinkered on the script for several years, while soliciting financial backing for the project. Chico, meanwhile, was running up huge gambling debts, as was often the case (while a brilliant card player, he was a notoriously bad gambler), and just as the Marxes had made "A Night in Casablanca", in 1946, to pay off his debts at that time, Harpo brought him into "Love Happy" to do the same. Unfortunately, the end of the decade was a depressed time for film making (with the studios forced to give up their lucrative theater chains, and television making inroads into the ticket-buying public), and backers would only fund the project if all three brothers would appear in the movie.
Groucho, by now a genuine TV star, thanks to the "You Bet Your Life" quiz show, hated the script of "Love Happy", and had little desire to co-star in the film. He was, however, loyal to his brothers, and finally reached a compromise; he would only appear briefly, would not have to wear his trademark greasepaint eyebrows and mustache, and would have final approval of his dialog and the performers working with him. He could honestly say he helped 'discover' Marilyn Monroe, at an open audition (watching two other starlets walk across a stage, followed by Marilyn, when asked for his pick for a small role, he raised his eyebrows and quipped, "You're kidding, right?")
As Universal and Warner Brothers have now released two wonderful boxed collections of all of the Marx Brothers' other feature films, this edition of "Love Happy" is essential, to complete the filmography of the classic team. But be warned: "Love Happy" is no "Night at the Opera", or "Duck Soup"!"
Harpo's Only Starring Film
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/22/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Released in 1950 after a troubled production history, "Love Happy" should be viewed as a showcase for the talents of Harpo Marx. On that level, it's an enjoyable but uneven film. Harpo's attempt at Chaplinesque pathos is fascinating - if not entirely successful. However, the rooftop chase is quite inventive and Groucho (in a brief role for box-office purposes) has a memorable encounter with Marilyn Monroe. "Love Happy" is not a classic, but it's more enjoyable (and less painful) to watch than "At the Circus" and "The Big Store." After years of second-generation dupes, the DVD features an excellent 35mm pre-release print that is six minutes longer than the 85-minute theatrical version. Groucho's narration now makes more sense and includes some Robert Benchley-inspired commentary. Along the way, there are occasional gags with Harpo and Chico that the Hays Office deemed inappropriate for the official release. Despite a few continuity errors, the pre-release print of "Love Happy" is superior to the finished product. Marxists rejoice!"