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  • Day at the Races
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Day at the Races

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Today Only: "Best of Warner Bros. 100-Film Collection" for 163.99
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Day at the Races + Marx Brothers: A Night at the Opera
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Product Details

  • Actors: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Allan Jones, Maureen O'Sullivan
  • Directors: Sam Wood
  • Writers: Al Boasberg, Carey Wilson, George Oppenheimer, George S. Kaufman, George Seaton
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Warner
  • Release Date: May 4 2004
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001HAIMW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,529 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Classic Marx Brothers

Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD
A DAY AT THE RACES is the second of the Marx/Wood/Thalberg collaborations (Marx Brothers, director Sam Wood and producer Irving Thalberg) movies made at MGM, the first the delightful A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. Irving Thalberg (called "the boy genius" about a hundred times in the DVD extras) died partway through production, bringing this successful combination to an unhappy end. Critical opinion will have you believe that NIGHT is the stronger of the two, but I've always preferred DAY. I'm absolutely tickled to have it now on a fantastic DVD.
First, I think the jokes are just a little sharper and sillier here than in NIGHT (not that they were poor there by any means). Also, the romantic subplot was handled a little better here. It helps, I think, that Allan "Imitation Zeppo" Jones has better chemistry with Maureen O'Sullivan than he did with Kitty Carlisle. The stricter structure that Thalberg imposed on the films is improved. I have an entertaining time cheering on the Brothers' attempting to win a horserace to save a young heroine's sanitarium.
But, of course, the real fun from a Marx Brothers film comes from the one-liners and comedic set pieces that abound, and the gags here rival their best material. As you'll hear loads of times if you peruse the DVD extras, Irving Thalberg encouraged the Brothers to take their material on the road for testing in front of an audience before filming it. Hence, the timing, the punch lines and the individual words themselves are all finely honed. It's this attention to detail that makes them work. You could easily imagine the "Tootsie Frootsie" sequence dragging and dying if the lines hadn't been performed perfectly.
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Format: DVD
Even if the only thing I bought this for was Chico's piano scene, it would still be worth it. That's the best piece I've ever seen him do. I've only seen three of their movies total, but hey, that's beside the point - that guy can PLAY!
I'm sure other people have noticed this, but I really think the film editing was MUCH improved on this film, in comparison to the earlier ones. The main things I didn't like were, as usual, the bad musical numbers. They were just out of place. I actually liked the whole 'water carnival dancing' part, even though it was out of place too, but that's just because I tend to like dances like that. I don't know how Vivien Fay twirled around so many times without getting dizzy and collapsing.
But back to the brothers. I wouldn't consider this to be the funniest of their movies (that I've seen, at least), but they were hilarious, as always. I loved the whole telephone scene, with Groucho doing all those different voices. And of course, the tootsie-frootsie ice cream part. I also thought it was great when Flo, the 'seductress', would say "Thank you", and Groucho would always repeat her, (although it sounded more like "thank yaw").
And the whole doctor examination is one of the funniest scenes that I've seen them do. There's just something about three crazy guys running over to the wash basins to 'sterilize' their hands, and then going around in a circle, drying their hands on the coat of the person in front of them...yeah, hard to describe.
So it's not the best I've seen them do, but it's great. I have an idea: I think MGM should release a dvd with all of their funny scenes on it. That way we could just watch it and laugh, without having to go through all the annoying romantic sub-plots and boring musical numbers. I'm sure it won't be happening, but I still think it'd be a cool idea.
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Format: VHS Tape
When Tony (Chico), an employee at the financially troubled Standish sanitariam, discovers that Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan) is in danger of losing the institution to a banker named Morgan (Douglas Dumbrille), he decides to seek a large donation from wealthy patient Mrs. Upjohn (Margaret Dumont, natch). Fashions in Marxism change, but this top quality production, though lacking their zaniest inspirations, does contain several of their funniest routines and a spectacularly well integrated racehorse climax. The musical and romantic asides are a matter of taste but are delightfully typical of their time. Among the performers in this delightfully off-beat film is Duke Ellington's wonderful vocalist Ivie Anderson, famous for her rendition of I GOT IT BAD (AND THAT AIN'T GOOD), and a very young Dorothy Dandridge made her debut here. It has been noted that over 5,OOO black performers auditioned for parts in the black musical sequences. An amusing trivia note: the character Groucho plays, Dr. Hackenbush was to be originally named Quakenbush. Reason for the change? Thirty-seven REAL-life doctors with that very name threatened to sue the studio(!).
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Format: VHS Tape
"A Day At the Races", the Marx Bros. seventh film, released in 1937, is their last real great film in the sense of its overall humor and comic genous.
Groucho plays a horse doctor, Dr. Hackenbush, who is more interested on betting on horses than treating them.
The plot revolves around a sanatorium which is loosing money. Run by Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan), she is offered five thousand dollars to sell it to a shady character, Morgan (Douglas Dumbrille). He wants the sanitorium for his race track. However, the sanitorium's leading patient, Mrs. UpJohn (Margaret Dumont) comes to the aid of Judy Standish when she offers finicial support - but only if she hires Dr. Hackenbush. Of course nobody knows he is just a horse doctor.
Harpo plays a jockey. Chico (Tony) plays the sanitarium's loyal employee. When he overhears the conversation about Hackensbush, he quickly wires him to come. He also sells ice cream and racing tips on the side. In a later scene, one of the film's highlights, he sells Groucho a library's worth of books which are intended to have the name of the horse and jockey in a particular race.
As is many Marx Bros. films, there is a love interest. This one involves Allan Jones (Gil Stewart) and Judy Standish. He spends his life's savings on a horse, Highhat, in the hopes it will win a race and enough money to bail the sanatorium out of its near bankruptcy.
Over-all, this is a fast paced comedy, expect for the songs which really have no place in the film, and seem to go on forever. However, they may be fast forwarded through.
The film's highlights include a roarous scene with the Marx Bros. and a seductress, Flo Marlowe (Esther Muir).
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