A Night at the Opera (1935)

90 mins | Comedy | 15 November 1935

Director:

Sam Wood

Cinematographer:

Merritt Gerstad

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening title card for the film reads, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents the Marx Bros. Groucho Chico Harpo." As the Marx Bros. names are introduced, music from the Ruggerio Leoncavallo opera I Pagliacci (The Clowns) is heard on the the soundtrack. This was the first film that the Marx Bros. made without brother Zeppo, who last appeared in the 1933 Paramount film Duck Soup (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1141). Some reviews erroneously credit the assistant direction to "George" Selander, instead of Lesley Selander. An HR news items noted that at one time the Marx Bros. insisted that Selander be fired because they objected to his disciplinary actions on the set. The same news item indicates that considerable reshooting was being required because a change in the picture's make-up men resulted in the "wrong" set of beards being used by the Marx. Bros. (in the sequence in which they impersonate aviators). Other news items include Robert Graves, Purnell Pratt and George Brent in the cast, however, they were not in the released film. Ann Demetrio , Egon Breecher and Kay English are also included in the cast in production news items, but their appearance in the released film cannot be confirmed.
       According to a 9 Jul 1935 news item, New York's Metropolitan Opera House chorus was to be recorded for selections from Pagliacci and the Giuseppe Verdi opera Il Trovatore . This was the first of the Marx Bros. films made at M-G-M. According to modern sources, M-G-M production head Irving Thalberg personally signed the brothers when their contract with Paramount was completed. Modern sources ... More Less

The opening title card for the film reads, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents the Marx Bros. Groucho Chico Harpo." As the Marx Bros. names are introduced, music from the Ruggerio Leoncavallo opera I Pagliacci (The Clowns) is heard on the the soundtrack. This was the first film that the Marx Bros. made without brother Zeppo, who last appeared in the 1933 Paramount film Duck Soup (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1141). Some reviews erroneously credit the assistant direction to "George" Selander, instead of Lesley Selander. An HR news items noted that at one time the Marx Bros. insisted that Selander be fired because they objected to his disciplinary actions on the set. The same news item indicates that considerable reshooting was being required because a change in the picture's make-up men resulted in the "wrong" set of beards being used by the Marx. Bros. (in the sequence in which they impersonate aviators). Other news items include Robert Graves, Purnell Pratt and George Brent in the cast, however, they were not in the released film. Ann Demetrio , Egon Breecher and Kay English are also included in the cast in production news items, but their appearance in the released film cannot be confirmed.
       According to a 9 Jul 1935 news item, New York's Metropolitan Opera House chorus was to be recorded for selections from Pagliacci and the Giuseppe Verdi opera Il Trovatore . This was the first of the Marx Bros. films made at M-G-M. According to modern sources, M-G-M production head Irving Thalberg personally signed the brothers when their contract with Paramount was completed. Modern sources note that many of the "gags" in the film had been used by the brothers in earlier acts, and the MPH review notes that some of the material was "tried out in tours up and down the 'Coast' first." A HR news item also mentions the tryouts of material and notes that the Marx Bros. frequently tested sketches and gags before reworking them for their films. The film's presskit notes that this film marked the first time that Harpo did not wear his characteristic red wig on screen. According to other press information, M-G-M sponsored a Marx Bros. "Look-Alike" contest simultaneous to the film's release. In its review of the film, the NYT called the picture "The Marxist assault on grand opera." The song "Alone" was one of the most popular songs of the year, toping sales charts for several weeks after its release. The 1992 film Brain Donors credited A Night at the Opera as its source, but many of the situations and most of the dialogue of the in the earlier film was not included in the latter. A Night at the Opera was ranked 85th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Oct 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Oct 35
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 35
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 35
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 35
p. 5.
Motion Picture Daily
15 Oct 35
p. 8, 10
Motion Picture Herald
26 Oct 35
p. 72.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Oct 35
p. 345.
New York Times
7 Dec 35
p. 22
Variety
11 Dec 35
p. 19.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Siegfried Rumann
William "Billy" Gilbert
Ines Palange
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus score
Vocal coach
Vocal coach for chorus
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dances by
STAND INS
Whistling double for Harpo Marx
SOURCES
SONGS
"Alone," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Così-Cosà," music by Bronislaw Kaper and Walter Jurmann, lyrics by Ned Washington
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game," music by Albert von Tilzer, lyrics by Jack Norworth
+
SONGS
"Alone," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Così-Cosà," music by Bronislaw Kaper and Walter Jurmann, lyrics by Ned Washington
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game," music by Albert von Tilzer, lyrics by Jack Norworth
selections from the operas Il trovatore , music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Salvatore Cammarano and I pagliacci , music and libretto by Ruggiero Leoncavallo.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 November 1935
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 8 November 1935
Production Date:
14 June--13 August 1935
retakes began 19 August 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
29 October 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5926
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1613
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In Milan, wealthy Mrs. Claypool has hired Otis B. Driftwood to help her enter society, but he merely helps himself to her money. He does introduce her to opera impresario Herman Gottlieb, however, who convinces her to hire tenor Rudolfo Lassparri for his New York opera company. Lassparri is a cad who beats his dresser Tomasso, and tries to captivate Rosa, a soprano who only loves chorus singer Ricardo Barone. Rosa also has an offer to go to America and is sad to leave Ricardo, until she learns that he is stowing away with Tomasso and his old friend Fiorello, who has a mutilated contract with Driftwood for Ricardo's services. They stay in Driftwood's room, which is crowded with one occupant, but bulges to overflowing as the stowaways, assorted maids, waiters, repairmen, and a woman looking for her Aunt Minnie, wander in. When they dock in New York, the stowaways unsuccessfully pose as a trio of bearded aviators, then hide in Driftwood's hotel to avoid deportation. Meanwhile, although Rosa and Lassparri are set to perform Il Trovatore , Lassparri refuses to sing with her because she rejects his amorous advances. Driftwood, Tomasso and Fiorello have a plan, though, and turn the performance into chaos. Tomasso crosses bows with the conductor, the music to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is substituted for the opera's score, and Driftwood sells peanuts in the aisles. When Detective Henderson arrives with the police looking for the stowaways, the stage is a shambles, but the day is saved when Lassparri refuses to perform any longer and Ricardo takes his place, with Rosa by his ... +


In Milan, wealthy Mrs. Claypool has hired Otis B. Driftwood to help her enter society, but he merely helps himself to her money. He does introduce her to opera impresario Herman Gottlieb, however, who convinces her to hire tenor Rudolfo Lassparri for his New York opera company. Lassparri is a cad who beats his dresser Tomasso, and tries to captivate Rosa, a soprano who only loves chorus singer Ricardo Barone. Rosa also has an offer to go to America and is sad to leave Ricardo, until she learns that he is stowing away with Tomasso and his old friend Fiorello, who has a mutilated contract with Driftwood for Ricardo's services. They stay in Driftwood's room, which is crowded with one occupant, but bulges to overflowing as the stowaways, assorted maids, waiters, repairmen, and a woman looking for her Aunt Minnie, wander in. When they dock in New York, the stowaways unsuccessfully pose as a trio of bearded aviators, then hide in Driftwood's hotel to avoid deportation. Meanwhile, although Rosa and Lassparri are set to perform Il Trovatore , Lassparri refuses to sing with her because she rejects his amorous advances. Driftwood, Tomasso and Fiorello have a plan, though, and turn the performance into chaos. Tomasso crosses bows with the conductor, the music to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is substituted for the opera's score, and Driftwood sells peanuts in the aisles. When Detective Henderson arrives with the police looking for the stowaways, the stage is a shambles, but the day is saved when Lassparri refuses to perform any longer and Ricardo takes his place, with Rosa by his side. +

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.