About The Cocoanuts
The Cocoanuts (1929) was the first feature-length Marx Brothers film, produced by Paramount Pictures. The musical comedy stars the four Marx Brothers, Oscar Shaw, Mary Eaton and Margaret Dumont. Produced by Walter Wanger and directed by Robert Florey and Joseph Santley, it was adapted to the screen by Morrie Ryskind from the George S. Kaufman Broadway play. As one of the earliest examples of a transfer of a stage musical to the new medium, The Cocoanuts highlights the imperfect production methods of early sound films.
Five of the movie's tunes were scored by Irving Berlin including "When My Dreams Come True", sung by Oscar Shaw and Mary Eaton.
Despite its technically inferior sound and variable print quality, "The Cocoanuts" (1929) remains a cinematic landmark. It was the first musical-comedy captured on film and, most importantly, introduced the Marx Brothers to the big screen. Though shot within the stage-bound confines of Paramount's Astoria studio, directors Robert Florey and Joseph Santley manage to incorporate stylish visual touches that complement the anarchic spirit of Groucho, Harpo, Chico and (briefly) Zeppo. As a result, "The Cocoanuts" lacks the stiffness and claustrophobia that plagued many 1929 talkies. Admittedly, there are a few slow stretches, since the filmmakers and performers hadn't quite mastered the pacing and timing of early sound comedy (notice the Groucho-Margaret Dumont exchanges). Still, the film moves at a pretty good clip (except for the forgettable musical interludes with Mary Eaton and Oscar Shaw) while showcasing some of the Marxes' best routines. Harpo, in particular, is brilliant and remarkably inventive throughout. Groucho has plenty of memorable dialogue, but his portrayal of Mr. Hammer is no match for Captain Spaulding or Rufus T. Firefly. Chico, of course, represents the ideal visual-verbal counterpart for Harpo and Groucho, even though his character is more belligerent than usual. And poor Zeppo would have better opportunities in his remaining film appearances. Flaws and all, "The Cocoanuts" survives as a fine introduction to Marxian madness.
Old Comedy Films, Top 100 Comedy Movies, United States, English Comedy Movies, Top English Comedy Movies, Comedy Drama, Musical Comedy
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