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Horse Feathers

(1932 b 68')

En: 7 Ed: 6

In another zany comedy the four Marx brothers have fun at college by concentrating on the college widow and football.

The new Huxley College president, professor Wagstaff (Groucho Marx), calls the previous speech as dull as his razor, sees Frank (Zeppo Marx), his son, rise from under a co-ed, and launches into the song, "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It." Wagstaff criticizes Frank for spending 12 years in college with the widow, though he himself spent four years each with three widows. Huxley College has been firing their president ever year since 1888, because the football team loses. They can find good football players in the speakeasy; but Jennings (David Landau) of their rival Darwin College already has hired the best two players. Wagstaff gets bootlegger Baravelli (Chico Marx) and the dogcatcher Pinky (Harpo Marx). Baravelli plays word games with the password for getting into the speakeasy, and Pinky rips up the ticket a cop gives him for blocking traffic with his dog-catching truck. Wagstaff promises the bartender a check and walks off with the cash. He tells the professors the problem is they ignore football for education, and the yes-men agree. Wagstaff calls the widow, finds out she's in bed, and wants to come over. While Baravelli is bringing in ice, Pinky shovels books into the fire to keep warm.

Wagstaff and Baravelli make fun of biology terms, while Pinky puts up a photo of a dancer. The teacher says his students will bear him out, and two of them do. Wagstaff asks a pretty student to stay after class, which degenerates into pea-shooting. Jennings tells the widow Connie (Thelma Todd) to get Huxley's signals. Frank, Wagstaff, and Baravelli each take a turn at singing "Everyone Says I Love You" and along with Pinky in romancing Connie. Frank catches his father doing what he forbade him, and Wagstaff complains the son is trying to take the dame from him. Baravelli gives Connie a singing lesson and plays the piano, while Groucho suggests the audience go out into the lobby. Baravelli sells the signals to Jennings, but they turn out to be Darwin's signals he bought at a lower price. Baravelli and Pinky try to kidnap the football players, who strip them of their clothes. Pinky arrives at the stadium in a janitor's horse and cart, and after much hilarious confusion the four Marxes manage to win the game, and all but Zeppo wed Connie in the final scene.

Word play turns on equivocation and puns, and the anarchic Groucho often punctures conventional morality and customs, such as Frank and the widow bringing their homework to school. The American obsession with collegiate football at the expense of the sciences and arts is satirized.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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