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Go West
     

Go West

Director: Edward N. Buzzell

Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx

 
The Marx Bros.' Go West was on the drawing boards as early as 1936, when MGM executive Irving Thalberg commissioned Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby to come up with a script in which the Marx Boys get involved with a rodeo. The project was shelved in favor of A Day at the Races, then revived in late 1939, two years after Laurel & Hardy's Way Out West

Overview

The Marx Bros.' Go West was on the drawing boards as early as 1936, when MGM executive Irving Thalberg commissioned Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby to come up with a script in which the Marx Boys get involved with a rodeo. The project was shelved in favor of A Day at the Races, then revived in late 1939, two years after Laurel & Hardy's Way Out West proved the commercial viability of comedy westerns. By this time, Kalmar and Ruby were no longer involved, and the script became virtually the sole responsiblity of Irving Brecher, who'd previously penned the disappointing Marx vehicle At the Circus. If Go West is an improvement over Circus, it is probably because the Marxes were permitted to try out their material on tour before a variety of live audiences. Set in 1870, the story begins as S. Quentin Quayle (Groucho Marx) tries to raise enough money for a train ticket to the West. He spots a couple of likely pigeons, prospectors Rusty (Harpo Marx) and Joe (Chico Marx), and attempts to sucker them out of the required $500. In what turns out to be the film's funniest scene, Rusty and Joe turn the tables on Quayle, divesting him of everything he owns -- including his trousers. The plot then rears its ugly head as villains Beecher (Walter Woolf King) and Baxter (Robert H. Barrat) scheme to wrest a lucrative railroad contract from hero Terry Turner (John Carroll). Rusty and Joe makes things easy for the bad guys by stupidly signing over a valuable gold-mine deed which they were supposed to deliver to heroine Eve Wilson (Diana Lewis). With the help of Quayle, Rusty and Joe try to recover the deed, only to be sidetracked by a bevy of dance-hall girls. After several middling complications, the film boils down to a race between heroes and villains to register their bids and win the railroad contract. This requires Quayle, Rusty and Joe to keep a locomotive in commission by chopping up the passenger cars for fuel, one of several Keatonesque sight gags packed into the film's hilarious finale. The opening and closing scenes of Go West are so good that one is willing to forgive and forget the dull romantic subplot and the misfire gags in the midsection.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
"Go west" may have been good advice for all those young men Horace Greeley was counseling, but the Marx Brothers should perhaps have thought twice about it. Not that Go West is a bad film, as some of its sequences are quite good, but it's not a film that was really worth the talents of the boys. One of the problems is that the Marxes work best in a totally artificial studio environment; when they're shot on an actual city street, there's something a little odd about them, and when they're shot in an actual Western exterior, it's incredibly distracting. Of greater importance, the creators of the film didn't really find a way of letting the boys subvert their setting. In spite of all their efforts and their total involvement in the plot of the film, they don't really seem to be taking the characteristics of Western films and exposing the silliness underneath those characteristics. Fortunately, the film does provide a number of routines -- the initial meeting between Groucho, Harpo, and Chico; the stagecoach sequence; some of the safecracking bit; and most of the climactic train race -- that give the trio a chance to show off their comic chops. Margaret Dumont is unfortunately missing from Go West, but June MacCloy's deep-voiced chorus girl is a great deal of fun, and helps make up for the bland performances of John Carroll and Diana Lewis, and the so-so villainy of Robert H. Barrat and Walter Woolf King.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/27/1993
UPC:
0027616008534
Original Release:
1940
Source:
Mgm (Warner)

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Groucho Marx S. Quentin Quade
Harpo Marx Rusty Panello
Chico Marx Joseph Panello
John Carroll Terry Turner
Diana Lewis Eve Wilson
Walter Woolf King Mr. Beecher
Robert H. Barrat Red Baxter
June MacCloy Lulubelle
George Lessey Railroad President
Clem Bevans Official
Lee Bowman Actor
Arthur Houseman Drunk
Marx Brothers Actor
Joe Yule Bartender
Iris Adrian Actor
Edward Gargan Actor
Mitchell Lewis Halfbreed
Tully Marshall Dan Wilson

Technical Credits
Edward N. Buzzell Director
George Bassman Score Composer
Irving Brecher Screenwriter
Jack Cummings Producer
Roger Edens Score Composer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Stanley Rogers Art Director
Blanche Sewell Editor
Leonard Smith Cinematographer
George Stoll Musical Direction/Supervision
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

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