Horse Feathers (Norman Z. McLeod, 1932, USA)

Horse Feathers (1932) is a fun, early pre-code comedy from the Marx Brothers. While it does not quite reach the anarchic highs of Duck Soup, it certainly comes close. Thankfully the film does not include any of the boring romances the studios would add to the later Marx Brothers films to appeal to a wider audience. Like Duck SoupHorse Feathers also has several musical numbers - some of which are quite catchy. The most notable is probably the opening musical number - "I'm Against It!" - which is guaranteed to get stuck in the audience's head. The most famous song however is most likely "Everyone Says I Love You", a standard that has resurfaced in other films, most notably Woody Allen's 1996 film.

The film revolves around the world of college football, and a match between two fictional teams - Darwin and Huxley. Groucho Marx plays the president of Huxley College, Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff, who is trying to recruit pro players to help Huxley's losing team. Baravelli and Pinky, two "icemen", played by Chico Marx and Harpo Marx, respectively, are accidentally recruited to play for the team. This is all a lead-up to the film's finale - the football match between the two teams. This match is probably considered one of the heights of sports comedy, ending with Pinky winning a touchdown in a horse-drawn garbage wagon. 


The film is still funny so many years later. Perhaps the greatest weakness of the film is the boring romance with Zeppo, and also the lack of Marx Bros. regular Margret Dumont. The film is also funny for attempting to show a lot of the stereotypes surrounding college in the 1920s and 1930s, including some expressions that will mean nothing to audiences today - such as the "college widow." Worth checking out.


8/10

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