Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Go West


I’d say this one is about in the middle range of the Marx Brothers movies, somewhere between their half-dozen works of sheer genius and the lesser ones near the end of their career together. It’s good, but not really worth watching again and again. I had always thought that Groucho’s character’s name, S. Quentin Quale, was rather uninspired compared to wonderful names like Wolf J. Flywheel, Otis B. Driftwood, and Rufus T. Firefly, but I have just learned from the invaluable IMDb that there’s a sly joke there. It seems that “San Quentin quail” was—and maybe still is, for all I know—slang for “jailbait,” an underage girl. Groucho slipped this one by the guardians of morality. I love it when they do that. The film’s climax is a wacky chase on a train, where they pretty much destroy it in a quest for more lumber for the boiler. It almost didn’t get made, as the skinflint (and stupid) MGM execs thought it would be too expensive. Ironically, the Marxes themselves look to have had nothing to do with the expensive, location shots. It was stunt men all the way, with the Marxes filming their parts against projected back screen action. I could only identify a few shots where they were outdoors at all, but this was common practice back then.