|A Day at the Races|
|Directed by||Sam Wood|
|Edited by||Frank E. Hull|
|Box office||$2,305,000 |
A Day at the Races is a 1937 American comedy film, and the seventh film starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx and Chico Marx), with Allan Jones, Maureen O'Sullivan and Margaret Dumont. Like their previous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature A Night at the Opera , this film was a major hit. 
The Standish Sanitarium, owned by Judy Standish, has fallen on hard times. Banker J.D. Morgan, who owns a nearby race track, hotel and nightclub, holds the mortgage on the sanitarium and is attempting to foreclose on it in order to convert the building into a casino. Tony, Judy's faithful employee, suggests asking financial help from the wealthy patient Mrs. Emily Upjohn, who is a hypochondriac, living at the sanitarium. After being pronounced healthy by the sanitarium's doctors, Mrs. Upjohn threatens to leave for treatment by Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush. Tony overhears her praise of Hackenbush, who is, unknown to her, a horse doctor. When Tony lies to Mrs. Upjohn, telling her that Hackenbush has been hired to run the Sanitarium, she is elated and informs Judy she will consider helping her financially. Tony contacts Hackenbush in Florida by telegram and when the Doctor arrives he immediately insults the Sanitarium's business manager Mr. Whitmore. Whitmore, being Morgan's stooge, is suspicious of Hackenbush's medical background.
Meanwhile, Judy's beau, singer Gil Stewart, who performs at Morgan's nightclub, has just spent his life savings on a racehorse named Hi-Hat. He hopes the horse, which he purchased from Morgan, will win a race and the money will allow Judy to save the Sanitarium. Hi-Hat is so afraid of Morgan, that he rears in fright whenever he hears his voice. Gil now has no money to pay for Hi-Hat's feed, and he, Tony and Stuffy, Hi-Hat's jockey, have to resort to trickery to fend off the Sheriff who has come to collect money for the feed bill. Tony raises some money by scamming Hackenbush in the "Tutsi Fruitsy Ice Cream" scene, giving him a tip on a horse, but all in code, so he has to buy book after book to decipher it.
Whitmore attempts to contact the Florida Medical Board for information on Dr. Hackenbush. Hackenbush intercepts the call, and by impersonating the man in charge of medical records, feigning a hurricane with an electric fan, pretending to forget what the call was about and repeatedly calling Whitmore to the dictagraph, he enrages Whitmore until he gives up. That night, at the gala Water Carnival, Gil performs along with Vivien Fay and her ballet, and Tony and Stuffy play the piano and harp respectively. Whitmore attempts to get Hackenbush fired by having Mrs. Upjohn catch him in his suite with Flo, a blonde temptress. Stuffy overhears the plot and informs Tony, so the two attempt to thwart Hackenbush's rendezvous with the floozy by posing as house detectives and then as paperhangers. When Whitmore and Mrs. Upjohn arrive, they have hidden Flo by stuffing her under the sofa cushions.
The following day, just as Mrs. Upjohn is about to sign an agreement to help Judy, Whitmore brings in the eminent Dr. Leopold X. Steinberg from Vienna, whom he hopes will expose Hackenbush as a fraud. After Mrs. Upjohn agrees to an examination by Steinberg, Hackenbush wants to flee for fear of being exposed; Gil, Tony and Stuffy remind him that Judy still needs his help and persuade him to stay.
After making a shambles of Mrs. Upjohn's examination, Hackenbush, Tony, Stuffy and Gil hide out in Hi-Hat's stable, where Judy soon joins them. She is upset by the negative light of the situation; Gil tries to lift her spirits. Near the stable, Stuffy starts sympathizing with a community of poor black folk who believe him to be Archangel Gabriel. As the number progresses, Morgan, Whitmore and the Sheriff arrive and Hackenbush, Tony and Stuffy try to disguise themselves by painting their faces with grease in blackface. The attempt fails, everybody runs off and Whitmore finally exposes Hackenbush as a horse doctor with a letter he received from the Florida Medical Board. Hi-Hat hears Morgan's voice and bolts, easily jumping over several obstacles in the way. Judy suggests to Gil that Hi-Hat is a jumper and Gil enters him into the upcoming steeplechase race.
Morgan, who witnessed Hi-Hat's jumping prowess the night before, tries to prevent him from being entered in the race but fails. Knowing that Hi-Hat is afraid of Morgan, everyone works to make Hi-Hat aware of his presence before reaching the fence.    On the last lap, Hi-Hat and Morgan's horse wipe out; when they reach the finish line, it appears that Morgan's horse has won. Stuffy realizes that the mud-covered horses were switched after the accident, and Morgan's jockey was riding Hi-Hat in the finish, thus making Hi-Hat the winner. The black folk arrive at the race and start walking with Gil, Judy, Hackenbush, Tony and Stuffy through the racetrack, all singing the final number.
The film went through numerous outlines, treatments, drafts, revisions and a total of eighteen different scripts before arriving at its final version. A major portion of the final screenplay was written by Al Boasberg who also contributed to A Night at the Opera, but due to a bitter disagreement with MGM, he chose not to be given any credit for his work. As they had with A Night at the Opera, the Brothers honed the comic material during a pre-production vaudeville tour.
Groucho's character was originally named "Quackenbush" but was changed to "Hackenbush" over threats of lawsuits by several real doctors named Quackenbush.[ citation needed ] In My Life with Groucho: A Son's Eye View, Arthur Marx relates that in his later years, Groucho increasingly referred to himself by the name Hackenbush. 
During production, Irving Thalberg, who had brought the Marx Brothers to MGM in 1934, died suddenly in September, 1936 of pneumonia at the age of 37. Thalberg's death left the Marxes without a champion at MGM, and the studio never gave the same level of care and attention to the team they had received under Thalberg. As a result, the Marx Brothers' three later MGM films are generally considered to be vastly inferior to their first two. 
The original release of A Day at the Races presented the water carnival sequence in light brown sepia and the ballet scene with a blue tint. 
The film used Santa Anita Park as a filming location for some of the racetrack scenes. 
The songs in the film, by Bronislaw Kaper, Walter Jurmann, and Gus Kahn, are "On Blue Venetian Waters", "Tomorrow Is Another Day", and "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" (featuring Ivie Anderson from Duke Ellington's orchestra). Two other songs were slated for the film, but ultimately cut . One, "Dr. Hackenbush", sung by Groucho about "what a great doctor he is" ("No matter what I treat them for they die from something else") was performed on the pre-filming tour, but was apparently never shot; Groucho later recorded the song separately. The other, "A Message From The Man In The Moon", sung by Allan Jones, was shot, but was cut at the last minute because the film was too long. The melody is heard during the opening titles, as some incidental music during the Water Carnival scene, and is "reprised" by Groucho during the final scene. The DVD release of the film includes a rediscovered audio recording for the film soundtrack of the song, performed by Allan Jones.
The film's lindy hop dance sequence is set to the tune of "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm", and featuring Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, including Willamae Ricker, Snookie Beasley, Ella Gibson, George Greenidge, Dot Miller, Johnny Innis, Norma Miller and Leon James. 
"Cosi-Cosa", a song sung by Allan Jones in A Night at the Opera, makes an instrumental cameo at the opening of the climactic racetrack scene. The tune would be heard again in the Marxes final MGM film, The Big Store (1941).
Contemporary reviews from critics continued to be positive for the Marx Brothers through their seventh film. John T. McManus of The New York Times called it "comparatively bad Marx," although still deserving of "a much better than passing grade" because "any Marx brothers motion picture is an improvement upon almost any other sustained screen slapstick."  Variety declared, "Surefire film fun and up to the usual parity of the madcap Marxes."  Harrison's Reports wrote, "Very good! The Marx Brothers are at their best and funniest here."  John Mosher of The New Yorker was also positive, writing that "Groucho, Harpo, and Chico are in full blast again," and the film "reaches a fever pitch even beyond earlier records."  The Chicago Tribune called it a "ridiculous farce, plummed with unique gags, laugh provoking situations, fast action ... The finale sends audiences away grinning and happy." 
Writing for Night and Day magazine of London, Graham Greene gave the film a generally good review, summarizing it as "easily the best film to be seen in London", but he criticized some elements of the film's portrayal. Greene observed that the film gave him "a nostalgia for the old cheap rickety sets" rather than the realistic sets, and although he praised Harpo's performance as "shin[ing] the brightest", he complained that the strong realism in O'Sullivan's acting set up a strong juxtaposition against the "silliness" of the Marx brothers' antics. 
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
According to MGM records, the film earned $1,602,000 domestically and $703,000 foreign, but because of its high cost recorded a loss of $543,000. 
The dance sequence for "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" was nominated for the short-lived Academy Award for Best Dance Direction, only given from 1935 to 1937. 
British rock band Queen named their 1976 studio album after the film. Their 1975 studio album was named after A Night at the Opera, the Marx Brothers' previous film. Groucho sent a handwritten note to the band, congratulating them on their excellent taste. 
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, singer, television star and vaudeville performer. He is generally considered to have been a master of quick wit and one of America's greatest comedians.
The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in motion pictures from 1905 to 1949. Five of the Marx Brothers' thirteen feature films were selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) as among the top 100 comedy films, with two of them, Duck Soup (1933) and A Night at the Opera (1935), in the top fifteen. They are widely considered by critics, scholars and fans to be among the greatest and most influential comedians of the 20th century. The brothers were included in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars list of the 25 greatest male stars of Classical Hollywood cinema, the only performers to be included collectively.
Duck Soup is a 1933 American pre-Code musical black comedy film written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin, directed by Leo McCarey. Released theatrically by Paramount Pictures on November 17, 1933, it starred the Marx Brothers and also featured Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres and Edgar Kennedy. It was the last of five Marx Brothers movies released by Paramount Pictures. In the film, Groucho portrays the newly installed president of the mythical country of Freedonia. Zeppo is his secretary, while Chico and Harpo are spies for the neighboring country of Sylvania. Relations between Groucho and the Sylvanian ambassador deteriorate during the film, and they go to war at the conclusion.
A Night at the Opera is a 1935 American comedy film starring the Marx Brothers, and featuring Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Margaret Dumont, Sig Ruman, and Walter Woolf King. It was the first of five films the Marx Brothers made under contract for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after their departure from Paramount Pictures, and the first after Zeppo left the act. The film was written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind from a story by James Kevin McGuinness, with additional uncredited dialogue by Al Boasberg. The film was directed by Sam Wood.
Arthur "Harpo" Marx was an American comedian, actor, mime artist, and harpist, and the second-oldest of the Marx Brothers. In contrast to the mainly verbal comedy of his brothers Groucho and Chico, Harpo's comic style was visual, being an example of vaudeville, clown and pantomime traditions. He wore a curly reddish blond wig and was silent in all his movie appearances, instead blowing a horn or whistling to communicate. Marx frequently employed props such as a horn cane constructed from a lead pipe, tape, and a bulbhorn.
Leonard Joseph "Chico" Marx was an American comedian, actor and pianist. He was the oldest brother in the Marx Brothers comedy troupe, alongside his brothers Adolph ("Harpo"), Julius ("Groucho"), Milton ("Gummo") and Herbert ("Zeppo"). His persona in the act was that of a charming, uneducated but crafty con artist, seemingly of rural Italian origin, who wore shabby clothes and sported a curly-haired wig and Tyrolean hat. On screen, Chico is often in alliance with Harpo, usually as partners in crime, and is also frequently seen trying to con or outfox Groucho. Leonard was the oldest of the Marx Brothers to live past early childhood, the first-born being Manfred Marx who had died in infancy. In addition to his work as a performer, he played an important role in the management and development of the act in its early years.
Herbert Manfred "Zeppo" Marx was an American comedic actor, theatrical agent, and engineer. He was the youngest and last survivor of the five Marx Brothers. He appeared in the first five Marx Brothers feature films, from 1929 to 1933, but then left the act to start his second career as an engineer and theatrical agent.
Margaret Dumont was an American stage and film actress. She is best remembered as the comic foil to the Marx Brothers in seven of their films; Groucho Marx called her "practically the fifth Marx brother."
At the Circus is a 1939 comedy film starring the Marx Brothers released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in which they help save a circus from bankruptcy. The film contains Groucho Marx's classic rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". The supporting cast includes Florence Rice, Kenny Baker, Margaret Dumont, and Eve Arden. The songs, including "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", "Two Blind Loves", and "Step Up and Take a Bow", were written by the team of Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg.
Horse Feathers is a 1932 pre-Code comedy film starring the Marx Brothers. It stars the Four Marx Brothers, Thelma Todd and David Landau. It was written by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, S. J. Perelman, and Will B. Johnstone. Kalmar and Ruby also wrote the original songs for the film. Several of the film's gags were taken from the Marx Brothers' stage comedy from the 1900s, Fun in Hi Skule. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "horse feathers" is U.S. slang for "nonsense, rubbish, balderdash," attributed originally to Billy DeBeck.
The Cocoanuts is a 1929 pre-Code musical comedy film starring the Marx Brothers. Produced for Paramount Pictures by Walter Wanger, who is not credited, the film also stars Mary Eaton, Oscar Shaw, Margaret Dumont and Kay Francis. It was the first sound film to credit more than one director, and was adapted to the screen by Morrie Ryskind from the George S. Kaufman Broadway musical play. Five of the film's tunes were composed by Irving Berlin, including "When My Dreams Come True", sung by Oscar Shaw and Mary Eaton.
Monkey Business is a 1931 American pre-Code comedy film. It is the third of the Marx Brothers' released movies, and the first with an original screenplay rather than an adaptation of one of their Broadway shows. The film also features Thelma Todd, Harry Woods and Ruth Hall. It is directed by Norman Z. McLeod with screenplay by S. J. Perelman and Will B. Johnstone. Much of the story takes place on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
A Night in Casablanca is a 1946 film starring the Marx Brothers:. The picture was directed by Archie Mayo, and written by Joseph Fields and Roland Kibbee.
The Big Store is a 1941 American comedy film starring the Marx Brothers that takes place in a large department store. Groucho appears as private detective Wolf J. Flywheel.
Humor Risk, also known as Humorisk, is a lost unreleased 1921 silent comedy short film that was the first film to star the Marx Brothers.
Go West is a 1940 American Western comedy film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring the Marx Bros. In their tenth film, head to the American West and attempt to unite a couple by ensuring that a stolen property deed is retrieved. The film was directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Irving Brecher.
I'll Say She Is (1924) is a musical comedy revue written by brothers Will B. Johnstone and Tom Johnstone (music). It was the Broadway debut of the Marx Brothers. The initial production premiered in June 1923 at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA before its national tour. A revival of I'll Say She Is, as "adapted and expanded" by the writer-performer Noah Diamond, was seen Off Broadway at the Connelly Theater in 2016.
A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine is a musical comedy consisting of two essentially independent one-act plays, with a book and lyrics by Dick Vosburgh and music by Frank Lazarus. Additionally, songs by other composers are incorporated into the score. The musical premiered in the West End and then ran on Broadway.
Playing the Ponies is a 1937 short subject directed by Charles Lamont starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 26th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
"Why a Duck?" is a comedy routine featured in the Marx Brothers movie The Cocoanuts (1929). In a scene in which Groucho and Chico are discussing a map, Groucho mentions the presence of a viaduct between the mainland and a peninsula. Chico, who is playing the role of an immigrant with poor English skills, replies "Why a duck?" This leads into a long schtick with Chico responding "Why a no chicken?", "I catch ona why a horse", and so forth.