The Marx Brothers
A Night at the Opera (1935)

(using Google)

Home | Movies | A Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera

DVD CoverCheck available media

This was the Marxes' first film after leaving Paramount (well, after being pushed out). MGM producer Irving Thalberg took the boys under his wing to produce two of their greatest films (the other being "A Day At The Races"). Thalberg's contention was that, although the Marx Brothers' movies were funny, you couldn't "build insanity on insanity." He proposed an actual story for the brothers to work against. He figured that there may be only half as many laughs in a picture, but the films would give the audience something to care about. His hunch was obviously correct, as "A Night At The Opera" was the Marx Brothers' biggest grossing film (more than doubling the take from "Duck Soup" two years earlier). Although the brothers had difficulty with the way he handled business, Groucho proclaimed that Irving Thalberg was the only man he would truly call a "genius." Thalberg asked the Marx brothers whom they would like to write the picture, and of course they chose their two favorite writers, Kaufman and Ryskind.

In this picture, Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho) tries to introduce Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont) into society by arranging for her to donate $200,000 to the New York Opera Company. The company's director, Mr. Gottleib (Siegfried Rumann) decides to use the dough to sign Rudolf Lassparri, one of Italy's most well-respected tenors.

Trying to keep his finger in the pie, Driftwood sets out to sign Lassparri himself, only to wind up signing Ricardo Baroni (Allan Jones) through his "manager," Fiorello (Chico), by mistake (check out a transcription of this scene, made available through the generosity of Angela Toma, at The Contract). Add to this Rosa (Kitty Carlisle), the mutual love interest of Baroni and Lassparri, and you have a thoroughly entertaining film. This movie contains the now infamous "stateroom" scene.

This was the Marx Brothers' first picture following the departure of Zeppo. Many purists contend that their movies just weren't the same without him. You be the judge.

GROUCHO: Wait a minute. Have I got time to go back and pay my hotel bill?
OFFICER: Too late!
GROUCHO: That's fine

The following exchange between Groucho and Margaret Dumont -- Dumont asks, "Are you sure you have everything, Otis?" and Groucho replies, "I've never had any complaints yet!" -- was cut by the censorship boards in every state on the film's release, but fortunately was preserved and is in current copies.

An article from Associated Press offered some information about the characters of the aviators: "The [ship] Chelyuskin set off in July 1933 from the port of Murmansk, in Russia's frozen Arctic near Norway, for Vladivostok in the Pacific Ocean a trip of more than 4,500 miles, meant to demonstrate the Soviet government's assertion that cargo ships could safely take the northern route.
Within months, it got stranded among ice fields in the Bering Sea and sank off the coast of Chukotka, in Russia's Far East, in February 1934.
More than 100 people who were aboard the ship managed to escape and set up a tent camp on the ice floes. Soviet aviators launched more than two dozen flights to search for the survivors, and in early March finally evacuated about 10 women and two babies born during the sea voyage, according to the Web site. Airmen brought out the rest of the passengers and crew men the following month.
The rescue attempt was the focus of Soviet newsreels, and the airmen were the first to be awarded with the highest Soviet medal: Hero of the Soviet Union. Their fame spread so wide that they were even lampooned in the Marx Brothers' film 'A Night at the Opera.' "

Related Links






Groucho Marx   Otis P. Driftwood
Harpo Marx   Tomasso
Chico Marx   Fiorello
Margaret Dumont   Mrs. Claypool
Sig Ruman   Herman Gottlieb
Kitty Carlisle   Rosa Castaldi
Allan Jones   Riccardo Baroni
Walter Woolf King   Rudolpho Lassparri
Edward Keane   Captain
Robert Emmett O'Connor   Detective Henderson
Gino Corrado   Stewart
Purnell Pratt   Mayor
Frank Yaconelli   Engineer
Billy Gilbert   Engineer's Assistant, Peasant
John Lipson   Engineer's Assistant
Claude Peyton   Police Captain
Rita and Rubin   Dancers
Luther Hoobyar   Ruiz
Rodolfo Hoyos   Count Di Luna
Olga Dane   Azucena, gypsy woman
James J. Wolf   Ferrando
Inez Palange   Maid
Jonathan Hale   Stage Manager
Otto Fries   Elevator man
William Gould   Police Captain
Leo White   Aviator
Jay Eaton   Aviator
Rolfe Sedan   Aviator
Wilbur Mack   Committee member
George Irving   Committee member
Phillips Smalley   Committee member
Selmer Jackson   Committee member
George Guhl   Policeman
Harry Tyler   Sign Painter
Alan Bridge   Immigration inspector
Harry Allen   Doorman
Lorraine Bridges   Louisa
Fred Malatesta   Stage Hand
Edna Bennett   Maid
Zuke Welch   Steward
Gennaro Curci   Doorman

Director  Sam Wood
Written by  George S. Kaufman
  Morrie Ryskind
  James Kevin McGuiness (story)
  Al Boasberg (additional material, uncredited)
Music  Herbert Stothart
  Giuseppe Verdi
Song "Alone"  Arthur Freed (lyrics)
  Nacio Herb Brown (music)
Song "Cosi-Cosa"  Bronislau Kaper (music)
  Walter Jurmann (music)
  Ned Washington (lyrics)
Cinematography  Merritt B. Gerstad
Art director  Cedric Gibbons
Associate art directors  Ben Carre
  Edwin B. Willis (set decorator)
Editor  William Levanway
Recording director  Douglas Shearer
Dance director  Chester Hale
Costume design  Dolly Tree
Producer  Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Production company / Distribution  Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (Loew's Inc.)
Runtime  96 min.
Baltimore / St. Louis opening  01 Nov 1935
Release date  15 Nov 1935
Remade as  Brain Donors (1992)
Spanish title  Una noche en la ópera
French title  Une nuit à l'opéra
German title  Die Marx Brothers in der Oper
  Skandal in der Oper
Swedish title  Galakväll pa Operan
Italian title  Una notte all'Opera
Finnish title  Ilta oopperassa
Norwegian title  Marx Brothers i operaen

Posters and Lobby Cards for this movie. Click to enlarge.
Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster

Musical numbers

Performed byComments
 Main Title 
Music and lyrics by: Herbert Stothart
Music by: Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by: Arthur Freed
Allan Jones / Kitty Carlisle  
 Italian Potpurri 
Music and lyrics by: Herbert Stothart
Cosi Cosa
Cosi Cosa 
Music by: Bronislau Kaper, Walter Jurmann
Lyrics by: Ned Washington
 Piano Theme 
Music and lyrics by: Herbert Stothart
 All I do is Dream of You 
Music and lyrics by: Herbert Stothart
 Il Trovatore 
Music and lyrics by: Verdi
 End Title 
Music and lyrics by: Herbert Stothart

This site uses material originally created by Frank Bland for his website Why A Duck?. Frank did kindly give me permission to use this material.

The Marx Brothers - Los Hermanos Marx - האחים מרקס - マルクス兄弟 - Les Freres Marx - 마르크스형제 - Братья Маркс - Bröderna Marx - برادران مارکس - I Fratelli Marx - Братята Маркс - Bracia Marx - Germans Marx - الأخوة ماركس - 馬克思兄弟 - Αδελφοί Μαρξ - Irmãos Marx     RSS feed

Top of page - Disclaimer

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Valid XHTML 1.0!