This Month on Criterion: The “Best” of the Marx Brothers

Naturally, any Marx Brothers fan worthy of the name already owns all of the Marx Brothers’ starring films in one form or another, but it’s going to be real handy for us lazy slugs not to have to get up and switch the DVDs for a few weeks, as Criterion is featuring ten of the team’s movies on their streaming platform. Their selection will leave them open to criticism from Marx Brothers fans however, and knowing the fans, I’m sure Criterion will get an earful. For the record, this is what they’ll be offering:

Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), Room Service (1938), At the Circus (1939), Go West (1940), and The Big Store (1941).

Their selection is oddly incomplete, but just by a little, which is going to raise all sorts of hackles. The boys starred in 13 pictures. Why include just ten? Missing are The Cocoanuts (1929), A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Love Happy (1950). Furthermore, calling this selection “the BEST” won’t cut it either, although they get a pass because the value judgment is subjective. Nearly EVERY Marx Brother fan will be perturbed by the idea of exluding The Cocoanuts, but including Room Service (1938), which is arguably their worst. I am also a fan of the other two movies they’ve omitted, and enjoy them more than I do Go West (1940) or The Big Store (1941), although one sees a consistency at least in including all the MGM pictures (even if they have omitted one of the Paramounts).

While you enjoy the films they are showing, I hope you will take the opportunity to peruse the Marx Brothers section of Travalanche, which has over 100 articles on the boys, separately and together, their early days in vaudeville and on Broadway, their films, their families, and many of the actors, directors and producers with whom they worked. Browse here in good health!