A Night at the Opera
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that children studying piano may especially enjoy Chico's speciality -- playing the piano while his fingers do acrobatics. And all children will enjoy learning that the stars were real-life brothers, who performed together for most of their lives.
What's the story?
In this Marx Brothers comedy, fast-talking fortune hunter Otis P. Driftwood (Groucho) is after dim dowager Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont). Mrs. Claypool brings Italian opera stars Rosa (Kitty Carlisle) and the cruel Rodolfo Laspari (Walter Woolf King) to the U.S. on board an ocean liner. Talented tenor Riccardo (Allan Jones), who loves Rosa, his manager Fiorello (Chico), and Tomasso (Harpo), Rodolfo's abused dresser, stow away in Driftwood's steamer trunk. They manage to get off the boat disguised as bearded Russian aviators, but are discovered and are chased by a New York detective. When Rosa refuses Rodolfo's romantic advances, she is fired. But Tomasso and Fiorello wrack havoc on the opera's performance of "Il Trovatore," until Rosa and Riccardo come in and save the show.
Is it any good?
Harpo, Chico, and Groucho Marx bring their sublime brand of anarchy to perhaps its most fitting setting in this comic masterpiece. This was the most commercially successful of the Marx Brothers movies, partly because of the very sections that seem most tedious to us now -- the serious musical numbers and the romance. The movie veers happily from the wildest slapstick to the cleverest wordplay, punctuated by musical numbers that range from pleasant to innocuous.
Many of the Marx Brother's best-loved routines are here, including the wildly funny contract negotiation, as Groucho and Chico try to con each other ("That's what we call a sanity clause." "Oh no, you can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Clause!") and the famous scene in which one person after another enters Groucho's closet-sized stateroom. Budding pianists may especially enjoy Chico's speciality -- playing the piano while his fingers do acrobatics.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why Rodolfo won't sing to the people who came to say goodbye to him. Also, in this movie the Marx brothers play people who aren't very nice -- they steal, they cheat, they lie, and they cause havoc. How does the movie make you like them anyway?