Skip to content
At the Circus – 1939 Buzzell
- MGM was smart enough to riff on the name of The Marx Brothers most successful box office efforts: A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937) for their 1939 effort—but by then, the best work of the brothers was behind them.
- There are still some very good skits here—but unlike their best films, there are stinkers mixed in.
- For starters, there is far too much Kenny Baker (looking and sounding like Art Garfunkel’s long lost relative but with shorter hair) and Florence Rice. There are two musical numbers (including these two doing a simply awful “Two Blind Loves” (which is, sadly, repeated again later in the film )) before Groucho even shows up.
- Groucho’s “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” skit is wonderous. It is hilarious—but you also have the Marx brothers trademark mayhem in the frame. Harpo alternates between dancing with a giant woman and swinging from a chandelier all while beautiful women pepper the background as Groucho belts out the song in the foreground.
- The “Swingali” song is also a winner, sampling the brothers musical talents and a review of some popular tunes.
- The story is about a stolen $10,000 – fatuous- nobody (including The Marx Brothers) cares.
- Groucho looks into the camera and says “There must be some way of getting the money without getting in trouble with the Hays office”- haha as Eve Arden hides the wallet and missing money in some secret places.
- There also isn’t nearly enough of Margaret Dumont in At the Circus with her tried and true chemistry with Groucho. She even has a haughty butler in this film, a ripe scenario for laughs that is largely untapped.
- Recommend but not close to the top 10 of 1939