A Night in Casablanca (Review)

A Night in Casablanca



Groucho Marx as Ronald Kornblow
Harpo Marx as Rusty
Chico Marx as Corbaccio

The Marx Brothers return after a break in film to this hilarious outing. Originally envisioned as a direct parody of Casablanca, it eventually morphed into it’s own storyline.

A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

The Manager of the Hotel Casablanca has just been poisoned. He’s the third manager killed this year. The police have no leads, but Hotel Employee Annette (Lois Collier)’s fiancée Lt. Pierre Delmar(Charles Drake), a former pilot, knows the Nazis are trying to take over the Hotel to get to a hidden treasure. No one believes him. Be-monocled Ex-Nazi Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman, who you may remember form A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races) is hiding at the hotel as Count Max Pfferman, and his hired butler is Rusty (Harpo). Cruel Stubel mistreats him, but Harpo accidentally sucks up Stubel’s toupee in the vacuum cleaner. Without it, Stubel would be recognized by a scar on his head and cannot leave the room. Therefore he misses a meeting with the hotel management to take over the hotel, and instead they decide to call in the manager of the Desert View Hotel, which is so far out in the desert they could not have heard of the murders.

Chico is Corbaccio, camel taxi driver. He meets the new manager Ronald Kornblow (GROUCHO!) at the station to take him to the hotel.

Corbaccio: They’d never let you in
Kornblow: Do they let you in?
Corbaccio: Yeah
Kornblow: Well, I’ll put a stop to that, I’m the new manager

A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

Annette finds Stubel’s toupee in the lost and found with Stubel’s name written in it, it confirms Pierre’s theory. Back at the hotel, Harpo gets in a fight with Stubel, so Stubel let’s his assistant Kurt fight Harpo with swords. Harpo emerges in a complete catcher’s uniform with boxing gloves and humiliates Kurt, Bugs Bunny would be proud. Downstairs, Max’s girl Beatrix charms Groucho at the lost and found and retrieves the toupee.

Kornblow: You know, I think you’re the most beautiful woman in the whole world.
Beatrix Rheiner: Do you really?
Kornblow: No, but I don’t mind lying if it’ll get me somewheres.

Beatrix invites him to hear her sing at a club.
A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

At the club, Max tells Beatrix to tell Kornblow to meet her at a specific cornter, then tells Kurt to run Kornblow over with a car there. Meanwhile, a creepy guy tells Pierre he knows who the Nazi in the Hotel is, but refuses to talk unless he gets some money. Chico and Harpo overhear, and decide to help Pierre out. They pretend to be waiters and begin taking bribes to get people tables, and then start setting up tables all over the dance floor, while Groucho dances with Beatrix and makes smart remarks. Chico then takes over for the band leader and does his piano number. Kornblow survives his brush with death, then talks with Pierre who tells him the story of the Nazi loot. Harpo later overhears Max ranting and planning to have Beatrix meet Groucho, then have himself burst in as the jilted lover and shoot him. Harpo tells Chico in a wonderful scene where he must pantomime the entire plot. They go run tell Groucho, who cannot understand Harpo. Chico and Harpo become Groucho’s bodyguards, and decide that his food might be poisoned, so they must test it all, as well as candles, teacups, and dry champagne.

Chico: You wanna get poisoned?
Kornblow: Not sure I’d mind anymore…

Later, Groucho insults a guest that calls him “clerk” in a way that all of us who lived through retail would love to do.
A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

Groucho then goes to meet Beatrix, but gets caught in an elevator with Harpo when it breaks down. Harpo is lifted above the elevator to get help, and instead find the Nazi Treasure, complete with Harp for Harpo’s harp number. Eventually Harpo and Groucho get out, and later that night, Groucho tries to meet up with Beatrix again. As it is the trap, Chico keeps interrupting Groucho and Beatrix, and she and Groucho keep changing rooms to avoid him. Max bursts in with gun drawn constantly to empty rooms. Eventually Chico ends up in the same room as Beatrix and Groucho goes back to his room empty handed.

A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

Chico and Harpo find a dollar on the floor. Harpo runs over to the Roulette Wheel and puts it all on number 5. Harpo wins, then lets it ride and wins again. Now Harpo wants to let it ride again, but it will break the bank. Groucho lets him bet but wants to spin the wheel himself. Amazingly, it lands on number 5 for the third time in a row, and Harpo breaks the bank. Max uses this as an excuse to claim that Harpo and Groucho are in together on a con, and convinces the hotel owners to get the brothers arrested, and Pierre deported as well. In jail, they find out Harpo knows where the treasure is, and escape. Groucho to guard: “Keep quiet, we’ll never escape if you’re screaming”

A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

Max and Kurt gathered all the treasure, and are making their getaway and plan to leave Beatrix behind. She overhears, and calls the police. As Groucho and Co. are still at the station, he picks up the phone, and she tells that Max is escaping with the treasure. The Marx’s go back to the hotel to delay Max’s escape. They begin unpacking everything Max has packed, while he is packing. Max starts to think he is going crazy as shirts make their way out of suitcases and suits wind up back in the closet. It is a well done bit, another live action Looney Tunes deal. Eventually the Marx’s pack themselves into trunks, and get packed onto the truck along with Beatrix, who is also hiding in a trunk, but the three fall off the truck at a bump. But Pierre has managed to escape being deported and is driving to the airfield, and picks them up. They make it just in time, and climb aboard Max’s moving plane via a ladder and driving along side it. They fight their way aboard, and Beatrix isn’t a normal screaming Hollywood woman, she actually punches bad guys as well. After they are all aboard, and repeatedly knocking out the pilot by Harpo, Harpo has the controls of the plane, but they cannot stop it. Eventually they crash back into the jail, where the police chief is and sees Max, who is now exposed as a Nazi. He is arrested for the Manager murders, Pierre and Annette can get married, and the Marx’s chase after Beatrix, and we have the end!

A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

Piano scene: Chico takes over for the band leader at the club
Harp Scene: Harpo stumbles across Nazi loot including a harp

A Night in Casablanca
A Night in Casablanca

Rated 9/10 Smoke blowing Harpos!

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Marx Brothers Films
The Cocoanuts – 1929
Animal Crackers – 1930
Monkey Business – 1931
Horse Feathers – 1932
Duck Soup – 1933

A Night at the Opera – 1935
A Day at the Races – 1937
Room Service – 1938
At the Circus – 1939
Go West – 1940
The Big Store – 1941
A Night in Casablanca – 1946
Love Happy – 1950

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