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Encyclopedia > A Night at the Opera (film)
A Night at the Opera
Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Irving Thalberg
Written by James Kevin McGuinness
George S. Kaufman
Morrie Ryskind
Starring Groucho Marx
Chico Marx
Harpo Marx
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1935-1986)
Turner Entertainment (1986-96)
Warner Bros. (1996-present)
Release date(s) November 15, 1935 (USA)
Running time 96 min.
Language English
Italian
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

A Night at the Opera is a 1935 comedy film starring the Marx Brothers. It was the first film the brothers made for MGM after their departure from Paramount, and the first without Zeppo. Image File history File links A_Night_at_the_Opera_Poster. ... Sam R Woods is by far the coolest person in the world :D(January 13, 1990, Grantown-on-SpeyHollywood) was a prolific Scotland samwoods999. ... Irving Grant Thalberg (May 30, 1899 – September 14, 1936) was an American film producer during the early years of motion pictures. ... James Kevin McGuinness (20 December 1893 – 4 December 1950), was an American screenwriter and film producer. ... George Simon Kaufman (November 16, 1889 - June 2, 1961) was an American playwright, director, producer, humorist, and drama critic noted for his many collaborations with other writers and his contributions to 20th century American comedy. ... Morrie Ryskind (born Morris Ryskind 20 October 1895 in New York City, New York, USA - 24 August 1985 in Washington, DC), was a Jewish-American Hollywood and Broadway writer, lyricist, and director. ... Groucho redirects here. ... Leonard Marx, known as Chico, (March 22, 1887 – October 11, 1961) was one of the Marx Brothers. ... This article is about Harpo Marx, brother of Groucho et al. ... For alternate meanings of MGM, see MGM (disambiguation). ... Turner Entertainment Company was established August 4, 1986 to oversee Turner Broadcastings film library after its acquisition of MGM/UA. In addition to the studio, Turner got its library, which included all of MGMs films, Warner Bros. ... “WB” redirects here. ... is the 319th day of the year (320th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... See also: 1934 in film 1935 1936 in film 1930s in film years in film film Events Judy Garland signs a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). ... Comedy film is genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humor. ... This article is about the comedian siblings. ... For alternate meanings of MGM, see MGM (disambiguation). ... Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American motion picture production and distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. ... Herbert Marx (February 25, 1901 – November 29, 1979) is best known as Zeppo Marx, the name he used when he performed with his brothers, The Marx Brothers. ...

Contents

A Change in Style

At the suggestion of producer Irving Thalberg, the film marked a change of direction in the brothers' career. In their Paramount films, the brothers' characters were much more anarchistic: they attacked (comically) anybody who was so unfortunate to cross their paths, whether they deserved it or not. (Usually, they did deserve it.) Thalberg, however, felt that this made the brothers unsympathetic, particularly to female filmgoers. So in the MGM films, the brothers were recast as more helpful characters, saving their comic attacks for the villains. Irving Grant Thalberg (May 30, 1899 – September 14, 1936) was an American film producer during the early years of motion pictures. ... Anarchist redirects here. ...


Though some Marx Brothers fans were appalled at these changes, Thalberg was vindicated when the film became a solid hit. Of course, it helped that the film contained some of the brothers' funniest routines. These routines were honed on stage, as the brothers performed the new material on the road before filming began (another Thalberg innovation). This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Still, the path to success was not easy. According to Oscar Levant, the first preview was a "disaster", with "hardly a laugh". So was the second. Thalberg and George S. Kaufman spent days in the editing room, adjusting the timing to match the rhythm of a stage performance. About 9 minutes was cut from the running time, and the result was a hit.[1] Oscar Levant (December 27, 1906 - August 14, 1972) was an American pianist, composer, author, comedian, and an actor, better known for his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio and in movies and television, than his music. ... George Simon Kaufman (November 16, 1889 - June 2, 1961) was an American playwright, director, producer, humorist, and drama critic noted for his many collaborations with other writers and his contributions to 20th century American comedy. ...


In 1993, A Night at the Opera was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It is also included in the 2007 update of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies at number 85. The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ... Construction of the Thomas Jefferson Building, from July 8, 1888 to May 15, 1894. ... The first of the AFI 100 Years. ...


Production

True to its title, the film actually includes some real opera scenes, especially from Il Trovatore, with a duet sung by Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones. The opera setting also allowed MGM to add big production song numbers (which were one of this studio's specialties), such as the song Alone with the departure of the steamship, and the song Cosi Cosa with the Italian buffet and dancing. For other uses, see Opera (disambiguation). ... Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Leone Emanuele Bardare and Salvatore Cammarano, based on the play El Trobador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. ... Kitty Carlisle in Die Fledermaus, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933 Kitty Carlisle Hart (b. ... Allan Jones (b. ... A Chinese buffet restaurant in the U.S. A buffet (buh-FAY or /bə.ˈfei/) is a meal-serving system where patrons serve themselves. ...


It stars Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Walter Woolf King, Siegfried Rumann and Margaret Dumont. Groucho redirects here. ... Leonard Marx, known as Chico, (March 22, 1887 – October 11, 1961) was one of the Marx Brothers. ... This article is about Harpo Marx, brother of Groucho et al. ... Kitty Carlisle in Die Fledermaus, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933 Kitty Carlisle Hart (b. ... Allan Jones (b. ... Walter Woolf King (November 2, 1899 - October 24, 1984) was a singer, performer, and film actor born in San Francisco, California. ... Sig Ruman (born Siegfried Rumann) (1884-1967) was a German-American actor known for his comic portrayals of pompous villains. ... Margaret Dumont (born October 20, 1889; died March 6, 1965) was an American comedic actress. ...


The movie was adapted by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, Al Boasberg (uncredited) and Buster Keaton (uncredited) from a story by James Kevin McGuinness. It was directed by Sam Wood. George Simon Kaufman (November 16, 1889 - June 2, 1961) was an American playwright, director, producer, humorist, and drama critic noted for his many collaborations with other writers and his contributions to 20th century American comedy. ... Morrie Ryskind (born Morris Ryskind 20 October 1895 in New York City, New York, USA - 24 August 1985 in Washington, DC), was a Jewish-American Hollywood and Broadway writer, lyricist, and director. ... Buster Keaton (born Joseph Frank Keaton, October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was an American silent film comic actor and filmmaker. ... James Kevin McGuinness (20 December 1893 – 4 December 1950), was an American screenwriter and film producer. ... Sam R Woods is by far the coolest person in the world :D(January 13, 1990, Grantown-on-SpeyHollywood) was a prolific Scotland samwoods999. ...


Plot and memorable scenes

In A Night At the Opera, the brothers help two young lovers to succeed in love as well as in the opera world. Groucho is Otis B. Driftwood, a hanger-on to widowed socialite Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont). At the last opera performance of the season in Italy, of Pagliacci, Otis meets Fiorello (Chico), who is the best friend and manager of Riccardo (Allan Jones), an opera singer who longs for his big break and who is in love with fellow opera singer Rosa (Kitty Carlisle). However, Riccardo's dreams are thwarted by the star of the opera, Lasspari (Walter Woolf King), an egotistical man who wants fame — and Rosa — for himself. Otis signs Riccardo to a contract, thinking he is signing Lasspari; Lasspari, meanwhile, is signed for the New York opera by snobbish financier Herman Gottlieb (Sig Ruman). For other uses, see Opera (disambiguation). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Margaret Dumont (born October 20, 1889; died March 6, 1965) was an American comedic actress. ... Cover of the first edition of Pagliacci published by E. Sonzogno, Milan, 1892 Pagliacci (Clowns) is an opera consisting of a prologue and two acts written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. ... Allan Jones (b. ... Kitty Carlisle in Die Fledermaus, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933 Kitty Carlisle Hart (b. ... Walter Woolf King (November 2, 1899 - October 24, 1984) was a singer, performer, and film actor born in San Francisco, California. ... Sig Ruman (born Siegfried Rumann) (1884-1967) was a German-American actor known for his comic portrayals of pompous villains. ...


Although Riccardo and Fiorello are not allowed to accompany the troupe on their trip to New York, they manage to stow away on the ship, along with another of Fiorello's friends, Tomasso (Harpo), a dresser fired by Lasspari. Once in New York, the stowaways are pursued by the police for entering the country illegally, and Otis ends up losing his position with the opera to Gottlieb. When they find out that Rosa has been fired for siding with Riccardo, the boys spring into action, sabotaging the opening night performance and making sure that both Riccardo and Rosa get their due as the new hits of the opera world. A dresser is a theatrical stagehand involved with backstage quick changes and maintaining costume quality each night. ...


Classic scenes

  • Driftwood (Groucho) plans a rendezvous with Mrs. Claypool in his stateroom; then he finds out how small it is, and that he, his trunk, and the bed barely fit in it. Besides, Fiorelo (Chico) insists on getting something to eat ("We getta food or we don't go"). So Groucho calls a steward ("I say, Stew") and orders dinner.
GROUCHO: And two medium-boiled eggs.
CHICO: (inside room): And two hard-boiled eggs.
GROUCHO: And two hard-boiled eggs.
HARPO: (inside room): (honk)
GROUCHO: Make that three hard boiled eggs.

This continues until Fiorelo and Tomasso have ordered about a dozen hard-boiled eggs and Driftwood has ordered about everything else--including coffee to sober up some stewed prunes. However, this is just to set the viewer up for the famous "Stateroom Scene", which sees a total of 15 people in Driftwood's tiny ship's cabin, already containing a bed and a big wardrobe trunk. It is one of the most famous comedy scenes of all time, and was designed in part by Buster Keaton. Buster Keaton (born Joseph Frank Keaton, October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was an American silent film comic actor and filmmaker. ...


The scene starts with Driftwood finding out that Fiorello, Tomasso and Riccardo Baroni managed to sneak onto the boat by stowing away in his steamer trunk. Because the boys other than Driftwood are hiding as stowaways, they have to stay in the room while a parade of people walk in, asking to either use their cabin for something, or to perform their appointed tasks. Crammed into this little space at the end of the scene were: Otis Driftwood, Fiorello, Tomasso, Riccardo Baroni, two cleaning ladies, a manicurist, a ship's engineer and his heavy-set assistant, a girl looking for her aunt, and four waiters with trays of food (Prompting Groucho's classic line; "Is it my imagination, or is it getting crowded in here?"). The mass of humanity tumbles out into the hallway when Mrs. Claypool opens the door.

  • The contract scene between Groucho and Chico ("the party of the first part ..."), which is a masterpiece of non-communication:
CHICO: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?
GROUCHO: Oh, that? Oh, that's the usual clause, that's in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.
CHICO: Well, I don't know...
GROUCHO: It's all right. That's, that's in every contract. That's, that's what they call a sanity clause.
CHICO: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Clause!
  • The actual sabotaging of the opera while being pursued by the police and theater staff, in which numerous things are done to Verdi's Il Trovatore, all in the attempt to substitute Riccardo for Lasspari onstage.

A contract is a legally binding exchange of promises or agreement between parties that the law will enforce. ... A typical depiction of Santa Claus. ... “Verdi” redirects here. ... Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Leone Emanuele Bardare and Salvatore Cammarano, based on the play El Trobador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. ...

Hidden material

In the scene where the three stowaways are impersonating Russian aviators, Groucho seems to talk gibberish with the dignitaries. As a matter of fact, it is English; if played backwards, it can be heard what they are saying ("This man is accusing you of being impostors", etc.). It was recorded normally, and inserted into the movie in reverse. For other uses, see Aviator (disambiguation). ... Backmasking (also known incorrectly as backward masking)[1] is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forwards. ...


Cultural References

  • The film's script is credited as the basis for the 1992 film Brain Donors, produced by David Zucker and Jerry Zucker of Airplane! and The Naked Gun fame.
  • The British rock group Queen later paid homage to this film by naming one of their most famous albums after it (see A Night at the Opera).
  • The British punk band The Damned used Chico's quote ("There ain't no sanity clause") as a title for a 1980 single (see "There Ain't No Sanity Clause").
  • Cyndi Lauper featured a similar overcrowded stateroom gag in her music video for the song "Girls Just Want To Have Fun".
  • Sting also recreated the overcrowded stateroom gag in his music video for the 1991 song "All This Time".
  • The Warner Bros. animated show Animaniacs also paid homage to the stateroom gag in the short "Hercule Yakko".
  • Detective Comics 826 pays homage to this movie. In it The Joker captures Tim Drake, the third Robin and takes him on a mad spree in a car, running over anyone they encounter over the Christmas season. When the Joker plans to kill a street Santa Claus, Robin distracts him by saying "You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Claus." The Joker laughs and the two get in an argument over which Marx Brothers film the gag is from, with Robin claiming it is from The Big Store. The Joker is distracted long enough for Robin to punch him out and escape.
  • Though not one room, Mr. Mom also paid an homage to the stateroom gag in the finale.
  • In the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, a scene almost identical to the stateroom scene occurs in the Martin's closet.
  • At the end of the movie The Freshman, Rodolfo Lasspari is the alias used on Matthew Broderick's passport.
  • An 8th season episode of Seinfeld titled "The Pothole" features a homage to the stateroom scene in which the four main characters all cram into a small janitor's closet that Elaine is using to get Chinese food delivered; they all end up spilling out after Kramer spills ammonia.
  • When Rosa sings in any of the musical numbers, including the opera scenes, Kitty Carlisle recorded the tracks. She did not want someone else's voice coming out of her mouth on screen.

Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Brain Donors (1992) is an American comedy film released by Paramount Pictures loosely based on the Marx Brothers comedy, A Night at the Opera. ... David Zucker (born October 16, 1947 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American film director. ... Jerry Zucker (born March 11, 1950 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American movie director best known for his role in directing comedy spoof films. ... Airplane! is an American comedy film, first released on 27 June 1980, produced, directed, and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. ... The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is the first film in a series of comedy movies starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, and O.J. Simpson. ... Queen are an English rock band formed in 1970 in London by guitarist Brian May, lead vocalist Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor, with bassist John Deacon joining the following year. ... A Night at the Opera is a 1975 album by English rock band Queen. ... This article is about the music group. ... There Aint No Sanity Clause was a single by The Damned. ... Cynthia Ann Stephanie Cyndi Lauper (born June 22, 1953) is an American Grammy Award- winning singer, MTV VMA-winning video and Emmy Award-winning film, television and theatre actress. ... Girls Just Want to Have Fun was the first major single released by singer Cyndi Lauper as a solo artist. ... This article is about the musician. ... This article is about the television series. ... Cover of Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). ... The Joker redirects here. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this comics-related article or section may require cleanup. ... Robin is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Comics universe. ... A typical depiction of Santa Claus. ... This article is about the comedian siblings. ... The Big Store is a 1941 MGM Marx Brothers comedy film in which Groucho, Chico and Harpo work to save the Phelps department store. ... For the Lonestar song, see Mr. ... The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, is an American childrens television series that airs on the Disney Channel. ... The Freshman is a 1990 comedy motion picture starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick, in which Brando deliberately parodies his own portrayal of Don Corleone in The Godfather. ... Matthew Broderick (born March 21, 1962) is a Tony Award-winning American film and stage actor who is perhaps best known for his roles as the title character in Ferris Buellers Day Off and Simba in Disneys The Lion King. ... For Microsoft Corporation’s “universal login” service, formerly known as Microsoft Passport Network, see Windows Live ID. For other types of travel document, see Travel document. ... Seinfeld is an Emmy Award-winning American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989 to May 14, 1998, running a total of 9 seasons. ... Kitty Carlisle in Die Fledermaus, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933 Kitty Carlisle Hart (b. ...

Musical numbers

Harpo playing a variation of the movie's title theme on his signature instrument
Harpo playing a variation of the movie's title theme on his signature instrument
  • "Di Quella Pira" (from Il Trovatore)
  • "Miserere" (from Il Trovatore)
  • "Alone"
  • "Santa Lucia"
  • "All I Do Is Dream of You"
  • "Cosi-Cosa"
  • "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
  • "Anvil Chorus" (from Il Trovatore)
  • "Stride la vampa" (from Il Trovatore)
  • "Strido Lassu" (from Pagliacci)

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... All I Do Is Dream of You is a popular song. ... Take Me Out to the Ball Game is an early-20th century Tin Pan Alley song which became the unofficial anthem of baseball. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Oscar Levant, The Unimportance of Being Oscar, Pocket Books 1969 (reprint of G.P. Putnam 1968), p. 67. ISBN 0-671-77104-3.

This article or section seems not to be written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia entry. ...

See also

This is a list of United States comedy films. ... Bronisław Kaper (misspelled by the U.S. immigration authorities as Bronislau Kaper) (1902 - 1983) was a Jewish Polish-born composer of popular music. ... Walter Jurmann (October 12, 1903 - June 17, 1971) was an Austrian-born composer of popular music renowned for his versatility who, after emigrating to the United States, specialized in film scores and soundtracks. ...

External links


 
 

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