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The Marx Brothers




MGM, 1940.  Directed by Edward Buzzell.  Camera:  Leonard Smith.  With Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, John Carroll, Diana Lewis, Walter Woolf King, Iris Adrian, June MacCloy, Robert Barrat.

For the first and last time, the Marxes went back in time for a picture (unless you include Irwin Allen's 1957 picture, The Story Of Mankind, where the three brothers all appeared, but in different scenes).  It's 1870 and the boys are trying (for various reasons) to migrate west.

After a comical scene where the three are trying to swindle each other for train fare, we find them in the west without any logical explanation as to how they actually got there.

Terry Turner (John Carroll) is in a bind.  He wants to marry Eve Wilson (Diana Lewis), but her grandfather won't allow it.  It seems that Terry's granddad sold Eve's grandpappy a worthless piece of land some forty years earlier, and he is unwilling to let it slide.  Terry tries to smooth things over by talking the New York and Western Railroad into purchasing the land, known as "Dead Man's Gulch," to use as part of the route for their line west.

Unfortunately, Wilson has given the deed to brothers Joe (Chico) and Rusty (Harpo) Panello as security on a 10-dollar loan.  Beecher (Robert Barrat) wants to get a hold of this land himself, so he can force the railroad into buying his own land for the same purpose, at his price.  Enter S. Quentin Quale (Groucho), who would like to swindle the Panello brothers, but winds up joining them in trying to thwart Beecher's plans.

Chico livens up the proceedings with one of his most creative piano solos to date, and Harpo entertains us on a makeshift harp, improvised from an Indian's loom.

Why a Duck?

Also see the American Film Institute's summary.


Poster artwork courtesy of Gunnar and Gary, and additional photos courtesy of Gary