Time: 111 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Academy Award nomination for Best Dance Direction
SYNOPSIS: A vet posing as a doctor, a race horse owner and his friends struggle to help keep a sanitarium open with the help of a misfit racehorse.
BOTTOM LINE: The Marx Brothers take their special brand of lunacy to the track in an effort to help a struggling sanitarium, run by Judy (O'Sullivan), to stay afloat. The usual antics ensue including: Groucho pretending to be a famous psychiatrist in order to keep Mrs. Upjohn (Dumont), the hospital's wealthiest client, happy; Chico scheming to raise money any way he can; and Harpo helping Gil (Jones), Judy's fiancé, maintain possession of a race horse they're sure will solve their money woes, if they can just keep the horse away from the local sheriff long enough to enter it in the next big race. While not my favorite of their films, the brothers still manage to put on a fairly entertaining show. A DAY AT THE RACES is at its' best when they are onscreen together, losing energy and pace when the story focuses on the supporting cast.
Clearly these films need a greater purpose driving the brothers' actions, but frankly I find it just gums up the comedy. O'Sullivan and Jones are attractive and competent, just not what I want to watch. While the bulk of the jokes aren't as fresh and crisp as in their earlier efforts, the physical comedy is to die for. There are several sequences, the best being the boys "examination" of Margaret Dumont, that are so outrageous you'll find yourself rolling with laughter. As in all their movies, they finagle out of several tight spots to help their new friends beat the system, find love and gain financial success. They also showoff their musical prowess Chico on the piano, Harpo on the harp which is always impressive, but more out of place in this film than some of their others. All in all a solid effort. Not as fun as my favorite, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, but certainly one that will tickle most viewers, especially if you have the ability to fast forward through the slow, i.e. story, parts.