The Big Store (1941)

84 mins | Comedy | 20 June 1941

Director:

Charles F. Reisner

Producer:

Louis K. Sidney

Cinematographer:

Charles Lawton

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

Working titles of the film were Step This Way , Murder with Music , Bargain Basement and The Bargain Basement . The opening title card reads: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Groucho Chico Harpo Marx Bros. with Tony Martin in The Big Store ." Screen credits, reviews and the CBCS list the character played by William Tannen as "Fred Sutton," but he is called "Chris Sutton" within the film. Christian Rub, Joe Yule and Etta McDaniel are listed in the CBCS, but they did not appear in the released film, although Rub's character, the "Professor," is mentioned. Charles Holland is listed as a cast member on a HR production chart, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. HR news items and M-G-M departmental memos add the following information about the production: Shortly before production began, John M. Nicholaus of the M-G-M special effects department was developing some "3-D" effects to be included in one of the film's musical numbers. There were no 3-D effects in the released film. An additional musical number, entitled "I Want My Mama" was to be performed as a piano duet, but it was not in the film.
       The Big Store was the final film that the Marx Brothers made at M-G-M. A HR news item and some reviews indicated that it was to have been the brothers' last film together, but they appeared jointly in one additional film, the 1946 United Artists release, A Night in Casablanca (see below). The Big Store also marked the last feature ... More Less

Working titles of the film were Step This Way , Murder with Music , Bargain Basement and The Bargain Basement . The opening title card reads: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Groucho Chico Harpo Marx Bros. with Tony Martin in The Big Store ." Screen credits, reviews and the CBCS list the character played by William Tannen as "Fred Sutton," but he is called "Chris Sutton" within the film. Christian Rub, Joe Yule and Etta McDaniel are listed in the CBCS, but they did not appear in the released film, although Rub's character, the "Professor," is mentioned. Charles Holland is listed as a cast member on a HR production chart, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. HR news items and M-G-M departmental memos add the following information about the production: Shortly before production began, John M. Nicholaus of the M-G-M special effects department was developing some "3-D" effects to be included in one of the film's musical numbers. There were no 3-D effects in the released film. An additional musical number, entitled "I Want My Mama" was to be performed as a piano duet, but it was not in the film.
       The Big Store was the final film that the Marx Brothers made at M-G-M. A HR news item and some reviews indicated that it was to have been the brothers' last film together, but they appeared jointly in one additional film, the 1946 United Artists release, A Night in Casablanca (see below). The Big Store also marked the last feature film of actress Enid Bennett, who began her motion picture career in 1917 and appeared in numerous silent films, including the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks picture Robin Hood (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4663). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jul 41
p. 327.
Box Office
21 Jun 1941.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1941.
---
Film Daily
18 Jun 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 41
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 41
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 41
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Jul 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Jun 41
p. 157.
New York Times
27 Jun 41
p. 14.
Variety
18 Jun 41
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus adpt
Vocals and orch
Vocals and orch
Vocals and orch
Vocals and orch
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dance dir
"Sing While You Sell" dance dir
STAND INS
Stand-in for Groucho Marx
Stand-in for Harpo Marx
Stand-in for Chico Marx
Stand-in for Marion Martin and Margaret Dumont
SOURCES
SONGS
"Tenement Symphony," music by Hal Borne, lyrics by Sid Kuller and Ray Golden
"Sing While You Sell," music by Hal Borne, lyrics by Sid Kuller and Hal Fimberg
"If It's You," music and lyrics by Ben Oakland, Artie Shaw and Milton Drake.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Bargain Basement
Step This Way
Murder with Music
Release Date:
20 June 1941
Production Date:
17 March--late April 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 July 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10569
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in feet):
7,487
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7365
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Singer Tommy Rogers wants to sell his half-share in Phelps department store, which he inherited from his adopted father, Hiram Phelps, and give the money to a conservatory of music for poor children. Unknown to Tommy, store manager Grover has been stealing from Phelps for some time and does not want to be found out, so he sends one of his cohorts to kill Tommy. When Tommy, who has worked out a deal for the Hasting Brothers chain to buy the store, is knocked unconscious in an elevator, his aunt Martha, who owns the other fifty percent of the store and is engaged to Grover, becomes concerned for his safety. Over Grover's objections, Martha decides to hire a private detective, and, after consulting the telephone directory, selects down-on-his-luck Wolf J. Flywheel. The eccentric Flywheel accepts her offer of $25 to take the case and promises anonymity. She then introduces him to Grover, saying that Flywheel is a new floor walker she wants to hire. Grover is suspicious of Flywheel, especially as he and Martha recite poetry to each other, but she soon admits that Flywheel has been hired to protect Tommy. Tommy is touched by her concern and agrees to let him be his bodyguard. He also hires Flywheel's jack-of-all trades assistant, Wacky, who turns out to be the brother of Tommy's friend Ravelli. Within a short time, Flywheel, Wacky and Ravelli have created chaos in the store and annoyed customers, much to Grover's irritation. The day before the sale is set to go through, Grover arranges for Peggy Arden, a woman with whom he is involved, to lure Tommy to a road house. Although she ... +


Singer Tommy Rogers wants to sell his half-share in Phelps department store, which he inherited from his adopted father, Hiram Phelps, and give the money to a conservatory of music for poor children. Unknown to Tommy, store manager Grover has been stealing from Phelps for some time and does not want to be found out, so he sends one of his cohorts to kill Tommy. When Tommy, who has worked out a deal for the Hasting Brothers chain to buy the store, is knocked unconscious in an elevator, his aunt Martha, who owns the other fifty percent of the store and is engaged to Grover, becomes concerned for his safety. Over Grover's objections, Martha decides to hire a private detective, and, after consulting the telephone directory, selects down-on-his-luck Wolf J. Flywheel. The eccentric Flywheel accepts her offer of $25 to take the case and promises anonymity. She then introduces him to Grover, saying that Flywheel is a new floor walker she wants to hire. Grover is suspicious of Flywheel, especially as he and Martha recite poetry to each other, but she soon admits that Flywheel has been hired to protect Tommy. Tommy is touched by her concern and agrees to let him be his bodyguard. He also hires Flywheel's jack-of-all trades assistant, Wacky, who turns out to be the brother of Tommy's friend Ravelli. Within a short time, Flywheel, Wacky and Ravelli have created chaos in the store and annoyed customers, much to Grover's irritation. The day before the sale is set to go through, Grover arranges for Peggy Arden, a woman with whom he is involved, to lure Tommy to a road house. Although she poses as an important music critic, Tommy refuses to meet her, thus foiling another of Grover's schemes. That same day, music department employee Joan Sutton, with whom Tommy is in love, happily tells her brother Chris that she and Tommy are now engaged. Chris, who has been one of Grover's cohorts, has a change of heart and tells Flywheel about the two thugs who are in the store to kill Tommy. As they are talking, the Hastings brothers enter the store and Flywheel mistakes them for the hired killers, but his error is quickly pointed out by Grover. By chance, Wacky and Ravelli catch the real killers when an elevator operator shouts "up!" and the criminals think that he is a policeman ordering them to put their hands in the air. With identities now established, Grover concocts another scheme and suggests that the final papers for the sale be signed after the store closes, when they can hold a ceremony for the staff and invite the press. During a photo session, the lights go out and Joan is kidnapped, so Flywheel, Wacky and Ravelli decide to develop the picture and see who took her. Tommy soon finds Joan and when Ravelli develops the picture, Grover is revealed as the culprit. Grover then sneaks up on them and demands the negative and photo at gunpoint. After a brief struggle, a wild chase through the store ensues, which involves a variety of conveyances, including roller skates and bicycles. Flywheel, Wacky and Ravelli eventually corner Grover and he is forced to admit his murder plot as cameramen are poised to take his picture and he knows that one of the cameras has been rigged with a hidden gun. Finally, Martha agrees to be engaged to her hero Flywheel, and as they enter his ancient car, it is repossessed,and they are towed away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.