Animal Crackers [1930]

This second Marx Brothers classic has Groucho playing Captain Spaulding (an inside joke pertaining to a renowned Hollywood drug pusher), whose song "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" became his signature anthem. Despite its staginess, it has some hilarious gags as the boys try to solve the mystery of a stolen painting among the high-society crowd. Some of the highlights include Groucho's African lecture about shooting an elephant in his pajamas, and a wacky card game between Harpo, Chico, and the always-gullible Margaret Dumont. The musical interludes here don't seem as awkward as in later films. It's really quite charming watching Chico and Harpo show off their graceful talents. --Bill Desowitz

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