Animal Crackers (1930) - Victor Heerman
Chaos is the best word to describe the Marx Brothers in particular their Paramount films. Animal Crackers, like The Coconuts was originally a stage play and the four brothers came to the film having performed it for months. The result is a film that besides the basic plot constraints seems like it was made up on the spot. Extras and supporting players noticeably laugh in scenes and there is so much in the script that even after a couple of viewings you won't catch it all. The film was directed by the largely forgotten Victor Heerman who only directed one more film after this, although he continued to work as a screenwriter along with his wife. Heerman didn't seem particularly well suited for the Marx Brothers and legend has it he built a jail on set with four cells for each of the Marx Brothers if they happened to get out of line during the shooting. Whether or not those cells were used is another matter.
Plot is largely inconsequential in any of their films and the story is routinely done away with. A very weak story involving a starving artist who paints a forgery of a painting that winds up being stolen and replaced by another forgery. Groucho plays Geoffrey Spaulding a famous explorer who recently returned from Africa which he describes as "God's country, and he can have it". Little evidence that Spaulding is an explorer and actually went to Africa exists and constant holes in his story appear. Chico plays a musician who although a blatant thief at least does have enough musical ability to pull off his story. Harpo is ironically referred to as the professor and he's just there to ruin everything. Zeppo is Groucho's secretary and although he's given a few moments is largely kept off screen. Margaret Dumont plays her typical role as Groucho's punching bag. When Spaulding first meets her he remarks "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, which isn't saying much for you."
Now its quite possible to sit here and quote the film to death and most of the lines are memorable. Playing this on stage gave the brothers a sense of their audience, and you feel like they're performing for us as well as the people on the set. Heerman, despite his differences was fairly smart in his directing. Most of the scenes play out in one long take (particularly the Harpo and Chico bridge scene) and you can debate how he handles the extras. There are a few cutaways during scenes, and whatever character occupying the background usually just stands their smiling or more accurately trying not to laugh. However the film largely feels like a stage play brought to film with little to no alteration. The brothers make the film worthwhile and the anarchy is always worth the price of admission.