Copacabana (1947) was Groucho Marx’s first cinematic outing as a solo (the Marx Brothers’ last real picture A Night in Casablanca having been the year before). In this film, he is well and evenly matched by Carmen Miranda, who’d become a star in 1940 with Down Argentine Way (though Brazilian, her famous persona sort of lumped in every American nation south of Texas). While totally lightweight and in no sense as crazy or surreal as even the worst Marx Brothers film, I find the movie pleasantly enjoyable. The bar is lower for this one, and it is no worse than the average fodder of the day (although I will say it seems a little old-fashioned for its time; it feels more like the sort of comedy Hollywood was making five years earlier).
Grouch and Miranda play a starving nightclub act (with Groucho as the manager—a character not unlike the one he played in A Night at the Opera). Finally, they score, but only because Miranda is masquerading as another (fictional) performer with an entirely different personality. Other bonuses include presence of Gloria Jean (W.C. Fields co-star in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break) and the powerful columnists Abel Green, Earl Wilson, and Louis Sobol. Groucho’s second wife Kay Gorcey has a small role in the film.
Here we get one of our last glimpses into Groucho’s old screen character when he literally watches himself sing a crazy production number at the legendary Copa:
For more on comedy film history please check out my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc