Marx Brothers comedy is more enjoyable than its reputation suggests. 3.5 Stars

Archie Mayo’s A Night in Casablanca certainly won’t rank alongside Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, or A Night at the Opera, but any occasion to spend time with the Marx Brothers is time well spent.

A Night in Casablanca (1946)
Released: 12 Oct 1946
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 85 min
Director: Archie Mayo
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Charles Drake
Writer(s): Joseph Fields (original screenplay), Roland Kibbee (original screenplay)
Plot: The Marx Brothers are employed at a hotel in postwar Casablanca, where a ring of Nazis is trying to recover a cache of stolen treasure.
IMDB rating: 7.0
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Other
Distributed By: ClassicFlix
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 25 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 12/29/2020
MSRP: $29.95

The Production: 3.5/5

After five years away from movie screens after their retirement following the end of their MGM contract with their last film The Big Store, the Marx Brothers returned with an independently produced comedy A Night in Casablanca. Intended originally to be a satire of Warner Bros.’ Oscar-winner Casablanca, the film instead took the setting only and spun out its own yarn of Nazis and the search for stolen treasure abetted with the patented craziness that only the Marx Brothers could supply. Never considered one of their great films, the movie is funnier and more inspired than its reputation would suggest, and each of the boys gets his moment in the spotlight as one delights in seeing them again despite their advancing ages.

Allied pilot Lt. Pierre Delmar (Charles Drake) as a prisoner of war had been forced by the Nazis near the end of World War II to fly a plane loaded with gold, jewels, and priceless artworks to South America, but he deliberately crashed the plane in Casablanca where the treasure instantly vanished. Reportedly stashed somewhere in the Hotel Casablanca, its most recent three managers have all been mysteriously murdered allegedly by disguised Nazis trying to gain control of the hotel so they can search for and find the loot and make off with it. Governor Galoux (Lewis Russell) and the police prefect Captain Brizzard (Dan Seymour) decide to hire noted hotel proprietor Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx) and plan to keep an eye on him to see who might attempt to murder him and thus catch the Nazis red-handed. Meanwhile, the Nazi in question Count Max Pfferman alias Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman) working with hotel entertainer Beatrice Rheiner (Lisette Verea) is anxious to rid himself of Kornblow so he can grab the treasure and vamoose, but his mute valet (Harpo Marx) and camel taxi service owner Corbaccio (Chico Marx) manage to make his plans fail one after another.

Screenwriters Joseph Fields, Roland Kibbee, and Frank Tashlin (uncredited but alleged to have provided several of the film’s most memorable sight gags) have done an elaborate set-up for this Marxian romp, but the boys manage to find their niches within it and operate accordingly. The love plot between the banal sweethearts Pierre and Annette (Lois Collier) is really weak in this entry, but that leaves more time for the boys’ crazy antics and Verea’s two different renditions of Kalmar and Ruby’s ”Who’s Sorry Now.” Groucho hasn’t lost a step with the snide one-liners (though there is no wonderful song for him this time making “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” and “Hooray for Captain Spaulding” fond but distant memories) while Chico gets to do an exhilarating piano exhibition of “The Beer Barrel Polka” and Harpo (who naturally is the first to stumble on the treasure) pulls up a convenient harp amid the other stolen gems and plucks out the “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” to impressive effect. Veteran director Archie Mayo handles the Marxian chicanery quite dutifully: chaos at a nightclub as Chico makes a fortune in tips while Harpo keeps adding tables and chairs to the dance floor and later a brilliant farcical set piece as Stubel attempts to pack his oversized trunks only to be thwarted at every turn by the Marxes. The climactic airport showdown goes on a bit too long and isn’t as funny as it could have been, but the good will the boys have built up by that time excuses a lack of imagination near the end.

While all three of the brothers have noticeably aged (Chico the least; his gambling debts were the reason the brothers came out of retirement to make this and Love Happy), it’s so great having them back on the screen and up to no good that one ceases to notice the thinning hair and facial creases and just settles back to enjoy their mayhem. Sig Ruman, one of their favorite victims from earlier films in their career, scores here, too: exasperated and frustrated by their outfoxing him every step of the way. Lisette Verea is most attractive and introduces “Who’s Sorry Now” to great acclaim (though no Oscar nomination), but she doesn’t get the treatment Thelma Todd enjoyed in her two Marx outings.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 is faithfully rendered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Overall, the movie looks sensational with deep black levels, crisp whites, outstanding contrast, and lots of detail due to very good sharpness (without any edge enhancement). The transfer also has a nice filmic look with just enough grain to give a pleasing and authentic appearance. There is a slight scratch or two that pass by fleetingly, but in the main, the picture looks marvelous. The movie has been divided into 21 chapters.

Audio: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is very authentic to its era. Dialogue has been well-recorded and has been mixed with professional surety with the background music and the appropriate sound effects. There is just the slightest bit of attenuated hiss to be heard, but it’s mostly minor, and your laughter may cover for some of it. There are no problems with crackle, pops, or flutter.

Special Features: 3/5

Theatrical Trailer (1:11, HD)

Audio Bonus Features: on-stage tryouts of selected brother interactions (5:52) and a montage of radio commercials for the movie (4:32)

Image Gallery (4:20, HD): stills, lobby cards, posters, and print art in montage

Classic Flix Trailers: Africa Screams, Merrily We Live, The Noose Hangs High, Out of the Blue, Zenobia.

Overall: 3.5/5

Archie Mayo’s A Night in Casablanca certainly won’t rank alongside Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, or A Night at the Opera, but any occasion to spend time with the Marx Brothers is time well spent. The Classic Flix Blu-ray release looks and sounds exceptional, and fans should be glad to welcome another of their films in high definition to their collections.

Post Disclaimer

Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.

Published by

Matt Hough

editor,member

Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2009
Messages
2,374
Location
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
I like the film and the Brothers did finance the movie themselves. The good news is that after sitting in some mail bin at the Post Office for over a week it's on it's way and will get it soon.
 

Matt Hough

Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
22,694
Location
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
I had it in my head that it wasn't really very funny, so you can imagine how surprised I was as I found myself laughing pretty continuously throughout my viewing.
 

BobO'Link

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 3, 2008
Messages
7,425
Location
Mid-South
Real Name
Howie
This is one of, if not the, the first Marx Brother's films I ever saw (I was around 8 or 9) and it made me a huge fan. The scene where Harpo's leaning against a building and is asked "What do you think you're doing? Holding the wall up?" was one of my favorite bits as a kid (still is).

I have no idea when my copy is scheduled for delivery - but it'll get here. I'll likely watch it the day it arrives. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Bartman

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 5, 2017
Messages
153
Real Name
Trevor Bartram
I like the film and the Brothers did finance the movie themselves. The good news is that after sitting in some mail bin at the Post Office for over a week it's on it's way and will get it soon.

I ordered some DVDs at Thanksgiving, they arrived via the USPS yesterday. I got an email from Netflix apologizing for late deliveries due to the USPS, that's a first. I have another Thanksgiving order I'm still waiting for the USPS to deliver! I can imagine there are mountains of parcels at the major sorting centers. Don't worry they'll have them cleared in a month or two.
 

Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2009
Messages
2,374
Location
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
I ordered some DVDs at Thanksgiving, they arrived via the USPS yesterday. I got an email from Netflix apologizing for late deliveries due to the USPS, that's a first. I have another Thanksgiving order I'm still waiting for the USPS to deliver! I can imagine there are mountains of parcels at the major sorting centers. Don't worry they'll have them cleared in a month or two.
I think after Christmas and more folks getting the virus shot i hope the Post Office will get back to it's normal deliveries. Also Media Mail has the lowest priority in mail delivery so that explains the delays in some of my discs.
 

BarryR

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jul 30, 2000
Messages
745
Location
Earth
Real Name
BARRY RIVADUE
Unless it's been pointed out already, "Who's Sorry Now" was composed and published in 1923, and not introduced in this movie.
 

wranim8

Auditioning
Joined
Jan 11, 2012
Messages
2
Real Name
Baby Schnook
Still have a Super 8 film copy of this pic which I watched many times. Back in the day. Pretty funny, even with some aging out by the bros, but much better than Love Happy,
 

Osato

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2001
Messages
6,610
I’ve never seen this one but have been buying and watching many of the Marx bros films this year.
I’ll keep an eye out for this one to pick up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2009
Messages
2,374
Location
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
Received my copy yesterday and a nice upgrade to my TCM 4 film dvd flipper set. I wished the new release had a commentary on it but i won't complain too much.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

BobO'Link

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 3, 2008
Messages
7,425
Location
Mid-South
Real Name
Howie
Mine shipped today. I realized Classicflix offered it on their site for the same price as Amazon so I cancelled my Amazon order to give Classicflix the full benefit of the order and added the Streamliners Collection V4 DVD, Merrily We Live BR, and The Michael Shayne Mysteries DVD.
 

Robert Crawford

Crawdaddy
Moderator
Patron
Joined
Dec 9, 1998
Messages
51,109
Location
Michigan
Real Name
Robert
I watched my BD today and found the movie pretty funny. When I was a kid, I was never a big Marx Brothers fan, but came to appreciate them more as an adult. IMO, this movie is their best one late in their career in which the three oldest brothers appeared together.
 

ClassicFlix

Insider
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
Messages
139
Location
Lincoln, CA
Real Name
David
Thanks for the mention Robert. NIGHT really is a fun one and I agree that it's the best of their later films.

- David
ClassicFlix Founder, Producer
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF