Horse Feathers Blu-ray Review: What Do You Do for a Haddock?

In the fourth feature-length film from the Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers, Groucho plays Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College, a school that hasn’t won a football game in over a decade. Zeppo is Wagstaff’s son (“I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived.”), a student at Huxley, who convinces his dad to hire a couple ringers for the upcoming football game. 

Chico plays Baravelli, who delivers ice and illegal alcohol for a nearby speakeasy. Harpo plays Pinky, who also delivers ice and is also a dogcatcher. All of the characters are in some way or other entangled with “college widow” Connie Bailey, played by Thelma Todd. Through a series of misunderstandings, Groucho accidentally hires Baravelli and Pinky for the football team while the rival team gets the ringers.

Horse Feathers, like Monkey Business before it, relies on Thelma Todd instead of Margaret Dumont for the female lead. This creates a situation in which all four Marx Brothers are after the same “college widow” – a young woman who lives near a college to meet men. This does nothing but bring a bit of confusion to the plot. The scene in which Groucho attempts to get a password out of Chico is absolutely classic, and every bit as funny as the famous football game that closes out the picture.

Bonus Materials:

  • The Marx Brothers: Hollywood’s Kings of Chaos
  • Feature Commentary with Film Critic F.X. Feeney

The bonus features are excellent. The long documentary, The Marx Brothers: Hollywood’s Kings of Chaos, is wonderful with interesting tidbits from critics and family members alike. The commentary by film critic F.X. Feeney is insightful and entertaining.

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Greg Hammond

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