Thursday, September 6, 2018

Marx Bros. Watch: Room Service (1938)

Watched:  09/06/2018
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's

I'd not previously seen Room Service (1938), an adaptation of a stage play that was not written for the Marx Bros.  In that, it's an odd fit for how I think of their films - from the limited settings to a certain level of management on the clockwork machine of their patented chaos.  From what I saw of contemporary reviews, I'll agree:  it's all right.  It's not great.  I wouldn't put it in the top five Marx Bros. films to see.

If it has any standout features, it's that it stars a very young Lucille Ball back in her ravishing redhead days before she rebranded as the brilliant comedienne she made her trademark (I still think I Love Lucy is pretty funny).  For longtime followers of this blog - the movie *also* stars Ann Miller in her semi-notorious "I lied about my age and I'm running around Hollywood making movies at age 15" phase (she would also appear in the classic You Can't Take It With You the same year).  To give Hollywood a pass - she really does look like she's at least 19 in these movies.

Groucho, Lucille Ball, Chico, Ann Miller, Harpo

I do like a good screwball stage play as much as the next person - and this one has all the characters and beats familiar to these sorts of things - complete with impending nuptials to put a bow on our happy ending.  But - frankly - it's missing Margaret Dumont, the Marx Bros. playing music and the familiar asides that fill every other breath of their usual films.

There are a few really funny lines (including one about a hotel bed that was just gold), something I'm interpreting as ribbing of the rising Nazis, and a pretty good avoidance of period-typical racism until the very last moment of the movie.

Anyway - I've seen worse.

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