Marx Brothers, At the Circus

At the Circus (1939, directed by Edward Buzzell), is a comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in which the Marx Brothers save a circus from bankruptcy. Buster Keaton, whose career was on the downside, worked on the film as a gag man. His complex and sometimes belabored gags did not work well with the Marx Brothers’ humor, and was a source of friction between the comedian and the group.

Goliath, the circus strongman (Nat Pendleton) and Little Professor Atom, the midget (Jerry Marenghi) are accomplices of the bad guy Carter (James Burke), who is trying to take over the circus. In the animal car, they knock Wilson (Kenny Baker) out and steal his $10,000, but they unintentionally leave a cigar as evidence.

Groucho, as lawyer J. Cheever Loophole, arrives to handle the situation. He caves in when he sees Pendleton, and gets nowhere with Little Professor Atom. In order to help Wilson, he first tries to get the money from Carter’s moll, Peerless Pauline (Eve Arden), but fails miserably. Then he calls on Mrs. Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont), and cons her into paying $10,000 for the Wilson Circus to entertain the Newport 400, instead of a performance by an orchestra conducted by a Frenchman named Jardinet (Fritz Feld)

Groucho Marx as Attorney J. Cheever Loophole, Harpo Marx as Punchy, Chico Marx as Antonio ‘Tony’ Pirelli, Kenny Baker as Jeff Wilson, Florence Rice as Julie Randall, Margaret Dumont as Mrs. Susanna Dukesbury, James Burke as John Carter, Eve Arden as Peerless Pauline, Nat Pendleton as Goliath the Strongman, Jerry Marenghi as Little Professor Atom, Fritz Feld as Jardinet, Barnett Parker as Whitcomb and Charles Gemora as Gibraltar the Gorilla.

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