A Night at the Opera
Never was a director more aptly named than Sam Wood: his movies are redwood forests of unrelieved monotony. Irving Thalberg certainly knew what he was doing when he assigned Wood to direct the first Marx Brothers film for MGM; he wanted a tamed, contained, sentimental comedy as opposed to the anarchy of the Paramount movies, and he got it. The famous stateroom scene, though hilariously funny, is symptomatic of the whole picture, in which the brothers are no longer in charge, but stuffed off to one side—comedy relief that is never relief enough from the idiot, high-MGM romance of Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones. Thalberg, of course, was commercially correct: this 1935 release was the highest grossing of all the Marx Brothers comedies, and initiated their long decline. With Margaret Dumont and Sig Ruman. 92 min.