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The Big Store (20-Jun-1941)

Director: Charles Reisner

Writers: Hal Fimberg; Ray Golden; Sid Kuller

Keywords: Crime/Comedy, Musical

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Henry Armetta
4-Jul-1888 21-Oct-1945 A Bell For Adano
Douglass Dumbrille
13-Oct-1889 2-Apr-1974 The Three Musketeers
Margaret Dumont
20-Oct-1882 6-Mar-1965 Foil to the Marx Brothers
Virginia Grey
22-Mar-1917 31-Jul-2004 Hullabaloo
Russell Hicks
4-Jun-1895 1-Jun-1957 American character actor
Marion Martin
7-Jun-1908 13-Aug-1985 Boom Town
Tony Martin
25-Dec-1913 27-Jul-2012 There's No Tomorrow
Chico Marx
22-Mar-1887 11-Oct-1961 An Italian con-man of a Marx Brother
Groucho Marx
2-Oct-1890 19-Aug-1977 You Bet Your Life
Harpo Marx
23-Nov-1888 28-Sep-1964 Silent harp-playing Marx Brother
Virginia O'Brien
18-Apr-1919 16-Jan-2001 The Big Store


Review by anonymous (posted on 25-Jun-2006)

The oft-maligned finale of the trio's MGM series, The Big Store's reputation suffers most from the fact that it's compared only with the truly great Marx Brothers movies rather than compared with other movies. As a fan of Marx Brothers movies, what delights me most about the Big Store is the Sing While You Sell production number. I love the song itself, and there are many interesting elements within this number, including the most intricate dancing of Groucho's career, Harpo doing some serious partner dancing (Had he ever touched a woman in a movie prior to this?), Virginia O'Brien's deadpan solo, and the fact that Groucho did a fine job singing and dancing in the modern style of the day despite the fact that he was nearly 50 years old. An interesting note from this particular scene--and one that puzzles me--is the absense of Chico. Perhaps he just didn't like the style of music, or more likely, it didn't fit with his character's being an instructor of classical music. I've never read a review of this movie that mentions the older woman who enters the record department of the store looking to buy a copy of Tony Martin's latest record. She was played by Clara Blandick, best known for her portrayal of Auntie Em in the Wizard of Oz just a couple of years earlier. Although sometimes cited as one of the movie's best parts, the "bed scene" doesn't interest me, and I think the movie would have been better off without it. I don't care for Groucho's treatment of the devoted Italian father who is desperately trying to locate his children. I just don't find that situation funny. But then again that's one this movie's major problems--it's very entertaining, but not very funny. After hearing so many times how weak this movie is, I was delighted to view it and decided for myself. Maybe it's time for you to do the same.

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