Go West (Review)
|Groucho Marx as S. Quentin Quale|
|Harpo Marx as Rusty Panello|
|Chico Marx as Joe Panello|
The Marx Brothers return for a western spoof this time, as the boys find themselves in a heap o’ trouble involving land speculation, railroad cars, helping young lovers, scams, gun fights, safe cracking, and robot knife fights. Well, maybe not the last thing. On with the show…
S. Quentin Quale (GROUCHO!!!) is at the train station trying to get a ticket west, but is $10 short. Joe Panello (Chico!!!) and his brother Rusty (Harpo!!!) are also looking to go west, but only have $10. So immediately they start trying to scam each other in order to get the $70 needed. This begins the Dollar Scam (“Nine dollars change, please”) where Harpo and Chico basically rob Groucho blind and head out west. Meanwhile Terry Turner is talking to the railroad people trying to convince them to run the rails over some property the grandfather of his fiancée owns, as her grandfather thinks he and his family is a crook and he wants to prove he is honest so they can get married. The railroad agrees to build through Dead Man’s Gulch.
Out West, Chico and Harpo are digging for gold but finding naught but dirt. Old Man Wilson who owns the land they are digging on has had enough and decides to retire. He borrows Harpo and Chico’s last $10 and leaves the deed to the land as collateral for the loan, the land is Dead Man’s Gulch and Mr. Wilson is the grandfather of Eve Wilson, Terry’s girl. She’s played by Diana Lewis, who was married to William Powell of the Thin Man movies fame. Because you all needed to know that. Terry returns to town to tell her the good news.
Chico and Harpo return to town and go into the saloon despite having no money. While inside, Harpo steals a drink and they narrowly avoid being shot by the Evil Red Baxter, who is also involved in a plot to force the railroad to buy his land and is looking for Mr. Wilson to force him to sell. Chico writes and IOU for the drink on the deed of the land and it is put in the cash register. After Chico and Harpo leave, they get a telegram for Mr. Wilson while looking for his granddaughter’s place as they agreed to check in on her. The telegram is from the railroad company offering to buy the land, but it is really a trick set up by Mr. Beecher, who is in with Baxter. The boys go to pick up Mr. Beecher from the railroad and on the stagecoach ride home discuss the deal. But the Stagecoach picks up a hitchhiker, by name of S. Quentin Quale. Groucho starts interrupting the deal by offering more money for the land, and ends up winning the bidding war. Meanwhile the coach’s bumping and tilting is reeking havoc in the cabin, confounded by Groucho, Chico, and especially Harpo’s behavior, which results in high hilarity.
Back at the saloon in town, Grouch has gotten Beecher and Baxter to agree to $10,000 for the property, but Baxter and Beecher steal the deed and threaten Groucho. Baxter shoots off some corks from bottles then trips Groucho down the stairs. Groucho quips “I’d have thrashed him to within an inch of his life, but I didn’t have a tape measure.” Meanwhile Chico had his piano scene in the saloon.
Going off dejected and defeated, the boys stop by Eve Wilson’s house and find out that she can’t get married to Turner unless the land is sold, so they decide to help out. First thing is to get the deed back. They sneak back into the saloon to pick the safe. While trying to open it, some of the showgirls catch them, and Groucho and Chico try to distract them, but it is they who are being distracted while a girl gets Baxter. Harpo manages to get the safe open as Baxter arrives, and hides as Groucho and Chico are captured. But a succession of people entering holding guns ends in Turner holding the last gun and our heroes escaping.
The goal is to get on the train tomorrow and head to the railroad office to explain what is going on. Baxter and Beecher hatch a plan to prevent them from getting on the train, after which they will have a week until the next one and Baxter and Beecher can acquire the land themselves in that time. Our Heroes spend the night with some Indians, and Harpo has his harp scene here, done with a loom modified into a harp.
The boys managed to get on the train, but Turner and Eve are left behind. Baxter and Beecher have gotten on and are attempting to catch Groucho, Chico, and Harpo. The three eventually try to stop the train, while Eve and Turner drive a stagecoach to catch up. After some misadventures with Baxter and Beecher than ends up getting all the wood on the train dumped, the train is stopped and Eve and Turner catch up, but then Beecher and Baxter just steal the coach and leave the stranded train. (D’oh!!)
Not to be defeated, Our Heroes start grabbing luggage to burn in the engine, including boxes of popcorn, and eventually resort to ripping up the other cars with axes and burning the wood they are made out of, all to the other passengers’ shock. Baxter and Beecher try ripping up parts of the tracks, but that just results in the train riding around a farm for a while before making its way back on the track. Eventually Baxter and Beecher get trapped on a bridge and have to jump off the side, and Our Heroes win the day. The three are allowed to drive the Golden Spike, which ends in the railroad president being driven into the ground. A job well done.
You can’t really comment on the train scenes without bringing up Buster Keaton and The General. Of course this film is inferior to Keaton on the train sequence, but so is every train movie that ever has been made. Also a fun fact: Groucho makes a joke about how “Don Ameche hasn’t invented the telephone yet” referring to the movie The Story of Alexander Graham Bell with Don Ameche as the titular role. The film was so popular that phones were called “Ameches” at the time. Think about that next time you watch Cocoon or Trading Places.
Overall another winner from the Marx Brother. Not one of their best, but their worst is still light years ahead of most things plaguing the theaters in your city.
Piano Scene: At the Saloon
Harp Scene: Indian Village
Rated 9/10 Groucho Totem Poles of Hilarity!
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Marx Brothers Films
The Cocoanuts – 1929
Animal Crackers – 1930
Monkey Business – 1931
Horse Feathers – 1932
Duck Soup – 1933