(director: Edward Buzzell; screenwriters: Irving Brecher/Buster Keaton-uncredited gag-writer; cinematographer: Leonard Smith; editor: Blanche Sewell; music: Bronislau Kaper; cast: Groucho Marx (S. Quentin Quade), Harpo Marx (Rusty Panello), Chico Marx (Joseph Panello), John Carroll (Terry Turner), Diana Lewis (Eve Wilson), Walter Woolf King (John Beecher), Robert H. Barrat (Red Baxter), June MacCloy (Lulubelle), George Lessey (Railroad President), Tully Marshall (Dan Wilson); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Cummings; MGM; 1940)
“This late MGM entry to the Marx Brothers opus is one of their minor works but still in parts reflects their vintage lunacy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This late MGM entry to the Marx Brothers opus is one of their minor works but still in parts reflects their vintage lunacy. It’s framed around a cumbersome story and features too much plodding slapstick, but there’s three priceless sequences: the railroad ticket office sketch, the boys being entertained with mint juleps by the villain’s dance hall gals and their classic concluding madcap Buster Keatonish runaway train chase scene.
Following Horace Greeley’s creed of 1851 to Go West, the Marx Brothers follow that advice in the 1870s. Confidence man S. Quentin Quade (Groucho Marx) and prospecting brothers Rusty and Joseph Panello (Harpo and Chico Marx) meet again out west after first becoming acquainted back east at a railroad station. Groucho is short on train fare and tries to con the two rubes out of ten dollars, but instead gets fleeced. Out west, in Dead Man’s Gulch, Chico and Harpo meet an old prospector, Dan Wilson, who gives them his mining site deed as collateral when they lend him $10. The brothers are unaware that the land is now worth $50,000, which was secured by Terry Turner (John Turner) from the railroad to make amends for his grandfather selling the worthless land to the grandfather of Eve (Diana Lewis), the girl he now wants to marry and the expected recipient of the windfall. But Chico and Harpo are unaware of this, so when they don’t have a dime to buy a beer, the villainous saloon owner Red Baxter (Robert Barrat) accepts the deed as an IOU. Red’s in cahoots with John Beecher (Walter Woolf King) as they scheme to get the deed to the railroad before Turner and the Marx Brothers are able to. But the Brothers steal back the deed and with the help of Turner go on a frantic train ride back east with Baxter and Beecher in pursuit in a horse carriage, as the Brothers dismantle the train to get enough fuel to keep moving and the train pushes a house along while Harpo casually strolls through it.
REVIEWED ON 4/13/2005 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/