Poster by Al Hirschfeld
|Directed by||Norman Z. McLeod|
|Produced by||Herman J. Mankiewicz (uncredited)|
|Written by||S. J. Perelman|
Will B. Johnstone
|Music by||John Leipold|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||August 10, 1932|
|Running time||68 min.|
- Groucho Marx as Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff
- Harpo Marx as Pinky
- Chico Marx as Baravelli
- Zeppo Marx as Frank Wagstaff
- Thelma Todd as Connie Bailey
- David Landau as Jennings
- Robert Greig as biology professor giving lecture
- Reginald Barlow as retiring professor
- E. H. Calvert as professor in Wagstaff's office
- Nat Pendleton as Darwin football player MacHardie
- James Pierce as Darwin football player Mullen
- Theresa Harris as Laura, Connie's maid
- Walter Brennan as football commentator (uncredited)
- "I'm Against It"
- "I Always Get My Man"
- "Everyone Says I Love You"
- "Collegiate" (Chico playing)
- "Bridal Chorus"
- "Wedding March"
Harpo whistles it once to his horse, and later plays it on the harp to serenade Miss Bailey. Chico sings a comic verse, with his standard fake Italian accent, while playing piano:Everyone says I love you
The cop on the corner and the burglar too
The preacher in the pulpit and the man in the pew
Says I love you.
Groucho sings a sarcastic verse, sitting in a canoe strumming a guitar as Miss Bailey rows. This is in line with his suspicions about the college widow's intentions throughout the film.Everyone says I love you
The great big mosquito when-a he sting you
The fly when he gets stuck on the flypaper too
Says I love you.
Everyone says I love you
But just what they say it for I never knew
It's just inviting trouble for the poor sucker who
Says I love you.
Notable scenesIn the opening number Wagstaff and a group of college professors sing and dance in full academic robes and mortarboard hats:
A later scene features Baravelli guarding the speakeasy and Wagstaff trying to get in. The password for entry is "Swordfish". This sequence degenerates into a series of puns:I don't care what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway;
Whatever it is, I'm against it!
At the door, Pinky is also asked the password. He responds by pulling a fish from his coat and sticking a small sword down its throat.Wagstaff: I got it! Haddock.
Baravelli: 'At's a-funny, I got a haddock too.
Wagstaff: What do you take for a haddock?
Baravelli: Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes I take a calomel.
Wagstaff: I'd walk a mile for a calomel.
Baravelli: You mean chocolate calomel? I like-a that too, but you no guess it.
Later Wagstaff and Baravelli debate the cost of ice. Wagstaff argues that his bill should be much smaller than it is:
Baravelli: I make you proposition. You owe us $200, we take $2000 and we call it square.
Wagstaff: That's not a bad idea. I tell you ... I'll consult my lawyer. And if he advises me to do it, I'll get a new lawyer.
A notable scene taken from the earlier revue Fun in Hi Skule consists of the brothers disrupting an anatomy class. The professor asks for a student to explain the symptoms of cirrhosis. Baravelli obliges:Baravelli: Last week, for eighteen dollars, I gotta co-ed with two pair o' pants.
Wagstaff: Since when has a co-ed got two pair of pants?
Baravelli: Since I joined the college.
The professor protests that his facts are in order: Baravelli and Pinky bear him out. Wagstaff takes over the class and continues the lecture.Sure, So roses are red
So violets are blue
So sugar is sweet
So so are you.
A little later, Wagstaff advises Pinky that he can't burn the candle at both ends. Pinky then reaches into his trenchcoat, and pulls out a candle burning at both ends.
Foreshadowing the "stateroom" scene from A Night at the Opera, all four Marx brothers and the main antagonist take turns going in and out of Connie Bailey's room, and eventually their movements pile up on each other, resulting in a crowded, bustling scene, notable both by Groucho's breaking of the fourth wall during Chico's piano solo, and his constant opening of his umbrella and removing his shoes upon entering the room.
Eventually, Pinky and Baravelli are sent to kidnap two of the rival college's star players to prevent them from playing in the big game. The intended victims (who are much larger men than Pinky and Baravelli) manage to kidnap the pair instead, removing their outer clothing and locking them in a room. In order to escape, Pinky and Baravelli saw their way out through the floor. The saws came from a tool bag Pinky carried with them that held their kidnappers' tools, which included, among other things, rope, chisels, hammers and at one point, a small pig. This is an example of the surreal edge of Marx Brothers humor.
One direct example of that influence occurs in the speakeasy scene. Two men are playing cards, and one says to the other, "cut the cards". Pinky happens to walk by at that moment, pulls a hatchet out of his trenchcoat and chops the deck in half. This none-too-subtle gag, which was recycled from the brothers' first Broadway show, I'll Say She Is (1924), would be repeated by Curly Howard against Moe Howard in The Three Stooges' short Ants in the Pantry (1936), and by Bugs Bunny in Bugs Bunny Rides Again (1948).
ReceptionAmerican Film Institute recognition
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs #65
Period referencesA term that occurs often in Horse Feathers, but may not be familiar to modern viewers, is college widow. The somewhat derogatory term referred to a woman who stays in college after graduation in order to find a husband. It is used to describe Connie Bailey. Such women were considered "easy". Miss Bailey is shown to be involved with each of the characters played by the Brothers, as well as the principal antagonist Jennings.
At one point during the climactic football game, Wagstaff exclaims, "Jumping anaconda!" This probably alludes to the notorious stock market performance of Anaconda Copper immediately preceding the Great Depression. All of the Marx Brothers had experienced severe losses in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Groucho had delivered other jokes related to the stock market in the Brothers' preceding films (for example, "The stockholder of yesteryear is the stowaway of today" in Monkey Business).
Missing sequencescensorship and damage. The damage is most noticeable in jump cuts during the scene in which Groucho, Chico and Harpo visit Connie Bailey's apartment.
- Connie: Baravelli, you overcome me.
- Baravelli: All right, but remember—it was your idea.
- List of United States comedy films
- Kalmar and Ruby songwriting team
- List of incomplete or partially lost films
- Variety film review; August 16, 1932, page 15.
- Harrison's Reports film review; August 20, 1932, page 135.
- Louvish, Simon (2000). Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers. New York City, New York: Thomas Dunne Books. http://www.amazon.com/Monkey-Business-Lives-Legends-Brothers/dp/0312252927.
- Horse Feathers at Filmsite.org.
- The top 11 scenes in football movie history at ESPN.com.
- "Cover". Time. August 15, 1932. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/0,9263,7601320815,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- "Horse Feathers". Marxology. http://marxology.marx-brothers.org/horse.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- Groucho Marx biography |Marx brothers | you bet your life! - Clownministry.com.
- "Cinema: Horse Feathers". Time. August 15, 1932. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,744191,00.html. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Original 1932 Time Magazine review
- Horse Feathers at the Internet Movie Database
- Horse Feathers at AllRovi
- Horse Feathers at the TCM Movie Database
- Full length review of film from filmsite.org
HORSE FEATHERS was a college movie, a genre which Harold Lloyd had explored back in the silent era, and which was still very popular in the thirties. Lyda Roberti made one, so did Patsy Kelly, and so would Martha Raye.
You were supposed to think Thelma Todd was a vamp ( and therefore one of the bad guys ) in this one, same as a lot of other movies, which of course was typecasting. But here Thelma Todd ends up with the good guys, which is unusual where they have her primarily as one of the bad guys in a movie.
Groucho Marx would later claim that Thelma Todd couldn't swim and almost drowned in the scene where she was in the water and he threw her a piece of "lifesaver" candy. But history tells us that Thelma Todd did know how to swim. The problem might have been that she couldn't swim very in a dress.
Thelma Todd had been put to work with the Marx Brothers after they came to Hollywood, but this was her last movie with them, as well as the second to the last movie they made at Paramount. But after DUCK SOUP they went to MGM, which would have been considered a step up in the world. There woud be other movies after that, and later they would work on television.
Here is the cover of TIME they were on.
This is the guy that doesn't get the girl. I'll give you a hint who gets the girl in this picture: They all have names that end with "o" like Mager's monks.
Marx Brothers ( Mythical Monkeys ):