Back Night at the Opera, A
No film notes
class rating
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 at 7.30pm
Comedy Classics
  • Classic comedy
  • 1935
  • USA
  • B&W
  • 87 mins.

While at Paramount, the Marx Brothers had specialised in freewheeling comedies that owed much to the zany antics of their vaudeville shows. This first outing for MGM was also honed on stage, but producer Irving G Thalberg used the three-week pre-production tour to chip away at the rough edges that made the siblings' humour so unique. Yet, despite his determination to make them conform to the studio's polished brand of family entertainment, their anarchic spirit triumphs. Consequently, the plotline involving Groucho's bid to introduce wealthy Margaret Dumont into society by getting her to invest in an opera is almost an irrelevance. Certainly the romantic interludes with songbirds Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle are. But the madcap lunacy is unforgettable — whether it's the shenanigans inside Groucho's cabin on a transatlantic liner; or Groucho's inimitable line in patter (particularly while attempting to schmooze Dumont and negotiate a contract with Chico); or the slapstick ruination of Il Trovatore. This is a true comedy classic. DP



With this screening we'll also be showing the classic 8 mins Tom & Jerry cartoon …

This classic Tom and Jerry cartoon makes wonderful slapstick comedy around Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody as Tom the cat's initially pompous, concert-hall rendition of the piece is reduced to rubble by Jerry the mouse, who is disturbed while sleeping in Tom's piano. In earlier shorts such as The Zoot Cat (1944) and Solid Serenade(1946), William Hanna and Joe Barbera had satirised the popular music of the day, but this was their first attempt at spoofing the classics, a theme returned to with less success in Tom and Jerry inThe Hollywood Bowl (1950) and Johann Mouse (1953). During production, a mix-up at the Technicolor labs caused a similar Warner Brothers cartoon, Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), to be delivered to MGM by mistake. MGM then rushed production of their film in order to submit it for that spring's Oscar nominations, later winning the award. A loss for Warner Bros, but a deserved gain for Hanna and Barbera as this is arguably their finest cartoon. CLP


Sam Wood


George S Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, Al Boasberg, Bert Kalmar,Harry Ruby, from a story by James Kevin McGuinnesss


Groucho Marx - Otis B Driftwood; Chico Marx - Fiorello; Harpo Marx - Tomasso; Margaret Dumont - Mrs Claypool; Allan Jones - Riccardo Baroni; Kitty Carlisle - Rosa Castaldi; Siegfried