Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Marx Brothers Treat

Well, it ain't "Duck Soup," but "A Night at the Opera" is a worthy substitute for a Saturday night.

And that's when Turner Classic Movies will be showing this classic — Saturday night at 7 p.m. (Central). Got something better to do?

The overcrowded stateroom scene (which can be viewed above) has had a fair impact on popular culture. Are you old enough to remember Cyndi Lauper? Her music video for "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" included a similar gag. And Sting re–created it in his video for "All This Time."

It has been the subject of numerous tributes on the big screen and on TV, from "Mr. Mom" to The Disney Channel to "Seinfeld."

And, decades before the Beatles became noted for "backward masking" on their "Revolver" album, the Marx Brothers were using the technique on film. There's a scene where Groucho seems to be speaking in gibberish to some dignitaries — but, if the track is played backwards, it is actually English, and he is clearly saying, "This man is accusing you of being impostors." Not bad for a flick from 1935, eh?

At the time it was released, moviegoers were urged, "Don't miss it!" because it was "[t]he funniest picture ever made!"

That may have been literally true, given the comparatively small number of films that had been made nearly 75 years ago. But, even now, few films can compare with "A Night at the Opera."

Admittedly, I still think "Duck Soup" was better — but not by much.