Before moving on to direct films like GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS, OUR TOWN, KINGS ROW and THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES, Sam Wood helmed two of the Marx. Bros.’ most famous films. OPERA came first followed by A DAY AT THE RACES two years later. As you can see from my star rating and review of RACES, I don’t think that the Marx Bros. films are classics.
They’re funny, but too chaotic at times. It’s the zaniness that some people like but it doesn’t work as a film. Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx) is a shady business manager who is trying to help the rich Mrs. Claypool (Margaret Dumont, HORSE FEATHERS) get into high society by donating money to the opera. Meanwhile, Driftwood’s friends Fiorello (Chico Marx) and Tomasso (Harpo Marx) are trying to help their singer friend Ricardo Baroni (Allan Jones, A DAY AT THE RACES) get a lead part in the opera company’s performance in New York City. However, the company star Rodolfo Lassparri (Walter Woolf King, GO WEST) has different ideas, especially when it comes to Ricardo’s girlfriend and female singing star Rosa Castaldi (Kitty Carlisle, RADIO DAYS).