Friday, February 07, 2014

The Cocoanuts (1929)

The Marx Brothers made their screen debut in this filming of their 1925 Broadway hit. A satire on the Florida land boom of the '20s, this early talkie appears rather quaint now. Due to the constraints of shooting for sound film, the pacing often seems slightly off, and the overall energy lacking. The comedy holds up well enough, though, and the film features one of the Marxes' most frequently quoted bits, the "Why a duck?" routine.

Margaret Dumont reprises her stage role as the wealthy Mrs. Potter, and Kay Francis makes an early appearance as a villainous but seductive thief. The romantic leads are bland but inoffensive. The music numbers (with songs by Irving Berlin) are generally creaky and unmemorable, with the exception of the bizarre "Monkey Doodle Doo".

Directed by Joseph Santley and Robert Florey. Adapted by Morrie Ryskind from the stage play by George S. Kaufman. Also featuring Oscar Shaw, Mary Eaton, Cyril Ring, and Basil Ruysdael.

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