The Cocoanuts (1929)

96 mins | Comedy | 3 August 1929

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HISTORY

The 12 Jan 1929 Motion Picture News announced production was expected to begin on 1 Feb 1929 on Paramount Pictures’ The Cocoanuts, based on the 1925 musical play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Irving Berlin. The Four Marx Brothers would reprise their stage roles in the “all-talking” screen version, among one of the earliest “talkies” released by Paramount. The picture was made at Paramount’s East Coast Studios in Astoria, Queens, New York City. Irving Berlin composed an original score, and George S. Kaufman reportedly served as the film’s advisor.
       On 6 Feb 1929, FD reported that principal photography had begun. The 2 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News indicated that production would soon be finished, and listed performers from two singing groups who participated in the film: “Louise Bernhardt, Madeleine Southwrith, Rita Sebastian and Ann Reichl, and the Miami Serenaders, Smith Blue, Max Sulser, Jack Cronin and Wendell Mayhew.”
       The 23 Mar 1929 Exbibitors Herald-Wordl noted that actor Oscar Shaw had recently completed The Cocoanuts.
       According to the 18 May 1929 Motion Picture News, the world premiere was held at New York City’s Rialto Theatre on 23 May 1929.
       Reviews were mixed. The 29 May 1929 Var reported “many laughs” throughout the film, but criticized the performers for talking “too fast” and for talking over their laughs. The 2 Jun 1929 FD declared that the film version did not add upon the stage presentation, but noted several “excellent” dance ... More Less

The 12 Jan 1929 Motion Picture News announced production was expected to begin on 1 Feb 1929 on Paramount Pictures’ The Cocoanuts, based on the 1925 musical play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Irving Berlin. The Four Marx Brothers would reprise their stage roles in the “all-talking” screen version, among one of the earliest “talkies” released by Paramount. The picture was made at Paramount’s East Coast Studios in Astoria, Queens, New York City. Irving Berlin composed an original score, and George S. Kaufman reportedly served as the film’s advisor.
       On 6 Feb 1929, FD reported that principal photography had begun. The 2 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News indicated that production would soon be finished, and listed performers from two singing groups who participated in the film: “Louise Bernhardt, Madeleine Southwrith, Rita Sebastian and Ann Reichl, and the Miami Serenaders, Smith Blue, Max Sulser, Jack Cronin and Wendell Mayhew.”
       The 23 Mar 1929 Exbibitors Herald-Wordl noted that actor Oscar Shaw had recently completed The Cocoanuts.
       According to the 18 May 1929 Motion Picture News, the world premiere was held at New York City’s Rialto Theatre on 23 May 1929.
       Reviews were mixed. The 29 May 1929 Var reported “many laughs” throughout the film, but criticized the performers for talking “too fast” and for talking over their laughs. The 2 Jun 1929 FD declared that the film version did not add upon the stage presentation, but noted several “excellent” dance numbers. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald-World
23 Mar 1929
p. 39.
Exhibitors Herald-World
20 Jul 1929
p. 90.
Film Daily
2 Jun 1929
p. 9.
Film Daily
6 Feb 1929
p. 2.
Motion Picture News
12 Jan 1929
p. 129.
Motion Picture News
2 Mar 1929
p. 616.
Motion Picture News
18 May 1929
p. 1718.
New York Times
25 May 1929
p. 17.
The Film Spectator
27 Jul 1929
p. 4.
Variety
29 Jul 1929
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
MUSIC
Mus and lyrics by
Mus dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical play The Cocoanuts by George S. Kaufman and Irving Berlin, presented by Sam H. Harris (New York, 8 Dec 1925).
SONGS
"Florida By The Sea," "The Monkey Doodle-Doo," "Tale Of The Shirt," and "When My Dreams Come True," words and music by Irving Berlin.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 August 1929
Premiere Information:
New York world premiere at the Rialto Theatre: 23 May 1929
Production Date:
early February--late March 1929
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Famous Lasky Corp.
Copyright Date:
2 August 1929
Copyright Number:
LP576
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96
Length(in feet):
8,613
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Hammer, the stogey-chewing, mustachioed entrepreneur of the Hotel de Cocoanut, moonlights as an auctioneering real estate speculator during the Florida Land Boom of the Twenties. Though his 600-room establishment is filled with an assortment of guests, only one, the haughtily stuffed Mrs. Potter, is paying any rent. Meanwhile, her lovely daughter Polly is paying court to hotel clerk Bob Shaw, whose own ambitions towards architectural fame and love's reward are chronicled in the Irving Berlin tune, "When My Dreams Come True." Hammer's financial throes abound, precipitating ever more ingenious and whacky plots to salvage his position, the most ardently pursued of which is the wooing of the wealthy Mrs. Potter. The rascal even exhorts his employees to labor gratis in order to free themselves from "wage slavery." Guests Chico and Harpo, unable to pay their bill, cascade through the hotel, mischievously bent upon larcenous chicanery, stealing silverware, evading Hammer, fumbling uproariously with stock hotel props such as bellboys, luggage, roomkeys, and mailbins. Among Hammer's other guests are Harvey Yates and Penelope, two somewhat more dedicated miscreants who have designs on Mrs. Potter's lucre, plotting to purloin her precious necklace. She remains in the dark as to their devilish deviousness, duped to the point of promoting a match between the lovely Polly and Harvey, whom she regards as "one of the Boston Yates." The stolen necklace is discovered by Harpo, who cleverly produces it from the stump of a tree on the lot that Shaw buys at the Hammer's auction. Bob is tossed into jail, later to be freed by Chico and Harpo, while the precious Polly has so infatuated Yates that he is tricked into revealing the true tale ... +


Hammer, the stogey-chewing, mustachioed entrepreneur of the Hotel de Cocoanut, moonlights as an auctioneering real estate speculator during the Florida Land Boom of the Twenties. Though his 600-room establishment is filled with an assortment of guests, only one, the haughtily stuffed Mrs. Potter, is paying any rent. Meanwhile, her lovely daughter Polly is paying court to hotel clerk Bob Shaw, whose own ambitions towards architectural fame and love's reward are chronicled in the Irving Berlin tune, "When My Dreams Come True." Hammer's financial throes abound, precipitating ever more ingenious and whacky plots to salvage his position, the most ardently pursued of which is the wooing of the wealthy Mrs. Potter. The rascal even exhorts his employees to labor gratis in order to free themselves from "wage slavery." Guests Chico and Harpo, unable to pay their bill, cascade through the hotel, mischievously bent upon larcenous chicanery, stealing silverware, evading Hammer, fumbling uproariously with stock hotel props such as bellboys, luggage, roomkeys, and mailbins. Among Hammer's other guests are Harvey Yates and Penelope, two somewhat more dedicated miscreants who have designs on Mrs. Potter's lucre, plotting to purloin her precious necklace. She remains in the dark as to their devilish deviousness, duped to the point of promoting a match between the lovely Polly and Harvey, whom she regards as "one of the Boston Yates." The stolen necklace is discovered by Harpo, who cleverly produces it from the stump of a tree on the lot that Shaw buys at the Hammer's auction. Bob is tossed into jail, later to be freed by Chico and Harpo, while the precious Polly has so infatuated Yates that he is tricked into revealing the true tale of the theft. The jig finally up, the engagement party continues with only the substitution of Shaw as the prospective groom needed to change pretty Polly's perilous predicament to one of anticipated paradise. +

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

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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.