Night in Casablanca, A [1946]

A Night in Casablanca may not qualify as a Marx Brothers classic, but it's certainly the best of their latter-day comedies. "This picture is funnier than all but a handful of their earlier ones," wrote the usually cantankerous Pauline Kael, and she's right. The Big Store would have been the final Marx movie, but that disappointment, and an attractive new deal with United Artists, prompted the Marx trio to bring freshly anarchic energy to this post-war spoof of wartime intrigue, prompting Warner Bros. (producers of Casablanca) to threaten legal action over the title, to which Groucho responded, "I am sure that the average movie fan could learn in time to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo." As it happens, Night bears only passing resemblance to the Bergman/Bogart classic, with Groucho playing the new manager of a hotel in Casablanca, where several previous managers have been murdered while a scheming villain (Marx regular Sig Rumann) plots to steal the hotel's cache of Nazi treasure. Chico and Harpo are up to their usual antics (including piano and harp interludes, respectively), and they all give Rumann the runaround in the film's funniest and most perfectly choreographed scene. The brothers made their final film together with Love Happy three years later, but as any fan will tell you, A Night in Casablanca was the last Marx comedy that mattered. --Jeff Shannon

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