Go West

Gasser

Go West (1940)

     Still working my way through a stockpile of Marx Brothers movie recordings, Go West was my most recent endeavor. Coming off Horse Feathers, however, I was a bit let down by this one. Unlike the earlier, college-based comedy, Go West lacked the extensive verbal repartee and cleverly spoken jokes and was instead packed with physical gags. Also, given that Horse Feathers was more a vehicle for such dialogue exchanges, Go West actually placed importance on the plot.

     My first experience with three, rather than four, Marx boys, Go West involves Groucho as a man set for the west in search of his fortune and Chico and Harpo as brothers who dupe him out of his train fare using a $10 bill on a string. Once at their destination, Chico and Harpo legitimately loan the 10-spot to an old man who provides the deed to some land as collateral. Meanwhile the antagonists in the film finagle to have a rail line established through the worthless land so they can make a fortune and also resolve a feud that prevents two star-crossed lovers, if you will, from being married.

     Smattered with wild west fights and fleeing idiots, the story involves the back-and-forth sale of the land despite the actual deed lying unknowingly in the possession of the villain because Chico used it to write an IOU for 10 cents. The brothers get the deed back but a cross-country race by train and carriage ends the film in utter absurdity as the boys must recycle the train cars’ wood for fuel.

     Go West was fun but I miss having catchy lines to laugh about as a recall them days later, as with Horse Feathers. I hope I did not discover my favorite Marx Bros. film too early in my exploration of the trio. What this film did offer were some great musical moments from Chico and Harpo. Although Harpo displayed his harp-playing gusto in other films, in this one he composes a harp from a weaving loom and plays an extensive number. Chico takes to the saloon piano and makes my head spin as I wonder how these shabbily dressed men could be talented in so many ways. The artist side seems to betray their personas. Mark me impressed.

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