The Cocoanuts (1929) Director: Robert Florey and Joseph Santley
“Jail is no place for a young fellow. There’s no advancement!”
As the first feature-length Marx Brothers film, The Cocoanuts is a wonderful comedy filled with classic Groucho Marx zingers and absurdist mockery of status quo aristocratic culture. Amidst the 1920s land boom, Groucho plays a character named Mr. Hammer who runs a hotel in Florida called the “Hotel de Cocoanut.” His preference is to sleep on the job until Harpo and Chico arrive with empty suitcases, ready to rob unsuspecting clientele. Mrs. Potter, an aristocrat with concerns about her daughter’s impending marriage, is played by Molly Dumont (she was featured in seven of the Marx Brothers’ films). Her daughter is in love with a struggling architect who is blamed for stealing Mrs. Potter’s diamond. Naturally, with this cohort of people united together in one hotel, chaos ensues.
As with other Marx Brothers films, the plot, location, and character names have little to do with the film –they are merely one-dimensional caricatures which allow for the Marx Brothers to shine. The scenery exists merely to set the stage for a string of chaotic and anarchic gags. This adds a kind of timeless quality to their films.
Best Quotations from the Film (mainly courtesy of Groucho Marx):
“Folks, you are now in Cocoanut Manor, one of the finest cities in Florida. Of course, we still need a few finishing touches, but who doesn’t?” – Groucho (a.k.a. Hammer)
“Right now I’d do anything for money. I’d kill somebody for money. I’d kill you for money. Ha ha ha. Ah, no. You’re my friend. I’d kill you for nothing” -Chico
“- Hammer: Now here is a little peninsula and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
– Chico: Why a duck?”
“Jail is no place for a young fellow. There’s no advancement” -Groucho (a.k.a. Hammer)
“Groucho: What would you like? Would you like a suite on the third floor?
Chico: No. I’ll take a Pollack in the basement”