Day at the Races, A: Top Marx Brothers

A Day at the Races, the Marx Brothers’ follow-up to their A Night at the Opera, was a smash hit.

Groucho Marx plays Hugo Z. Hackenbush, a veterinarian who passes himself off as a human doctor when summoned by the wealthy hypochondriac Emily Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) to take over the Standish Sanitarium.

Chico Marx plays the sanitarium’s general factotum, who works without pay because he likes its own, Judy Standish (Maureen O’Sullivan).

Harpo Marx plays a jockey at the local racetrack, bullied by the evil Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille), who will take over the sanitarium if Judy can’t pay its debts.

The funny routines include Chico selling Groucho tips on the races, Chico and Harpo rescuing Groucho from the clutches of Esther Muir, and the three Marx brothers conducting a lunatic “examination” of Margaret Dumont.

The fate of the sanitarium rests on a Big Race involving Hi-Hat, a horse belonging to the Allan Jones.

The slapstick finale, wherein the Marxes lay waste to a public event, is hilarious.

MGM producer Irving Thalberg died during the filming of “Day at the Races,”

The movie made more money than any other Marx Brothers film, and several more formulaic ones were made.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Dance Direction: Dave Gould

Oscar Context:

The winner was Hermes Pan for A Damsel in Distress.

Running time: 111 minutes.

Directed by Sam Wood

DVD: May 4, 2004