The Marx Brothers
The Big Store (1941)

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The Big Store

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Singer Tommy Rogers (Tony Martin) has inherited a large department store. He plans to sell the store so he can build a new music conservatory for his friends "The Professor" (Harpo) and Ravelli (Chico). Mr. Grover (Douglass Dumbrille), the manager of the store, has been cooking the books and plans to off Tommy before he can make the sale. Once Tommy is deceased, his aunt Martha Phelps (Margaret Dumont) will inherit the store. It is Grover's plan to then marry Martha and take control of the store himself.

Martha Phelps fears for her nephew's life, so she hires private investigator Wolf J. Flywheel (Groucho) to protect him. Along with his sidekick Wacky (Harpo), Flywheel takes the case.

While there are not many truly memorable scenes in this film, it is still quite a hoot. Harpo is charming in an imaginary sequence where he dons Louis XIV gear and plays a chamber music concert with two mirror images of himself. Also, the chase scene near the end of the film is quite a riot, if you politely ignore the fact that it is obviously contrived and employs numerous "tricks" to get the gags across.

This film was intended to be the Marxes' swan song. Harpo was to retire, Groucho to concentrate on his radio career, and Chico planned on putting a big band together. The brothers would get together for two more films, but not until U.S. involvement in World War II had come and gone and several years had passed. This was the last of the nine shows and movies in which Margaret Dumont would appear with the Marxes.

WOLF: Martha, dear, there are many bonds that will hold us together through eternity.
MARTHA: Really, Wolf? What are they?
WOLF: Your Government Bonds, your Savings Bonds, your Liberty bonds.

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Groucho Marx   Wolf J. Flywheel
Harpo Marx   Wacky
Chico Marx   Ravelli
Margaret Dumont   Martha Phelps
Douglass Dumbrille   Mr. Grover
Tony Martin   Tommy Rogers
Virginia Grey   Joan Sutton
William Tannen   Fred Sutton
Marion Martin   Peggy Arden
Virginia O'Brien   Kitty
Henry Armetta   Giuseppi
Anna Demetrio   Maria, Giuseppi's wife
Paul Stanton   George Hastings
Russell Hicks   Arthur Hastings
Bradley Page   Duke
Charles Lane   Finance company man
Dewey Robinson   Detective
Adrian Morris   Piano mover
Edgar Dearing   Store commissionaire
Clara Blandick   Customer seeking record
Pierre Watkin   Bedding Department manager
All Hill   Gangster
George Lloyd   Gangster
William Newell   Press phtographer
Milton Kibbee   Press phtographer
Charles Holland  
Harry Bradley  
Six Hits and a Miss   singing group

Director  Charles Reisner (credited as Charles Riesner)
Written by  Hal Fimberg
  Ray Golden
  Sid Kuller
  Nat Perrin (story)
Cinematography  Charles Lawton Jr.
Art director  Cedric Gibbons
  Stan Rogers
Set decorator  Edwin B. Willis
Editor  Conrad A. Nervig
Musical director  George E. Stoll
Songs "Sing While You Sell", "Tenement Symphony"  Hal Borne (music)
  Sid Kuller (lyrics)
  Hal Fimberg (lyrics)
Song "Where there's music"  performed by Tony Martin was recorded, but deleted from the final cut
Song "If It's You"  Artie Shaw (lyrics)
  Milton Drake (lyrics)
  Ben Oakland (music)
Musical Adaptation  Earl K. Brent
Vocal and orchestrations  Leo Arnaud
  George Bassman
  Herb Taylor
  Robert Van Eps
Dance director  Arthur Appell
Recording director  Douglas Shearer
Assistant director  Sandy Roth
Producer  Louis K. Sidney
Production company / Distribution  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Loew's Inc.)
Runtime  83 min.
Release date  20 Jun 1941
New York opening  26 Jun 1941
Spanish title  Tienda de locos
French title  Les Marx au grand magasin
German title  Die Marx Brothers im Kaufhaus
Swedish title  En dag på varuhhuset
Italian title  Il Bazar delle follie
Finnish title  Päivä tavaratalossa

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

Musical numbers

Performed byComments
 Main Title   
If It's You
If It's You 
Music and lyrics by: Ben Oakland, Artie Shaw and Milton Drake
Tony Martin  
 Sing While You Sell 
Music by: Hal Borne
Lyrics by: Sid Kuller, Hal Fimberg
 Harpo & Chico play Piano   
 Mama Yo Quiero   
 Piano Theme   
 Harpo's bazar   
 Classical Excerpt 
Music by: Bach
Tenement Symphony
Tenement Symphony 
Music by: Hal Borne
Lyrics by: Sid Kuller, Ray Golden
Tony Martin  
 End Title   

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.

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