A Day at the Races is not PC!
I Tivoed Marx Brothers’ A Day At the Races and watched it over several days as I mostly always do on things I record.
I thought it was very funny… it was a movie of their usual antics and snafu with a total disrespect to authority – my kind of movie.
Sort of what it is about is this young woman inherited a medical sanitarium next to a horse racing park. The facility is in deep financial trouble and the mean on business man wants the bank to close in her the money so he can buy and convert it to something to do with the horse racing park.
Enter rich old dame who came to the sanitarium for treatment for her rare disease. Enter the doctor, who told her she had the rare disease. Actually, it is Groucho and he is a horse doctor, he made up the rare disease bit to take her on a financial ride.
The sweet young lady who inherited the sanitarium gets Groucho to convince the rich old dame to donate a sizable sum to get the place out of the red. He obliges.
I thought what it amount to was the good guys were trying to get a wealthy old woman’s money by cheating and deceit. If the bad guys were do the same we would want their heads on a platter.
It was a very funny movie. I enjoyed it.
HOWEVER! It was not politically correct by. As you know, in the Marx Brothers movies, they usually have at least one outstanding musical scene with a cast of hundreds. This time the musical cast members were blacks. I think they did everything that was stereotypical of what was thought of blacks of that time. The worked hard, dance hard, doing dances like the jitterbug, played their music in heart-felt jazz and blues…. Some even rolled their big eyes around like they were surprised or scared – one guy, I don’t know his name, was known for his big-eye popping scared look.
I think at the beginning of this scene Harpo comes up on the blacks that were in a shantytown backdrop and they were working – cooking, sewing, ironing, sweeping and so on - in its own way that these people were humans, but they were left to do the manual work while white people were off to the race tracks and so on….. it paid them some respect then slapped them in the face by accenting the belief that they had natural rhythm.
It was exactly what Spike Lee was trying to get across in his movie BAMBOOZLED.
At one point, Harpo took out a flute and all the black kids happily followed him and imitating his marching-dancing steps… was this a slapstick version of the Pi Piper?
I also watched recently DUCK SOUP and I didn’t think it was very good… no good story and they seemed to be playing tennis with word play – the only good skit was a mirror image skit. It must have been a contractual obligation thing.