The Cocoanuts (1929) Review

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 film filled with classic Groucho zingers and absurd mockery of status quo aristocratic culture. Groucho plays a character named Mr. Hammer runs a hotel in Florida called the Hotel de Cocoanut, as the land boom of the 1920s was taking place. 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 marriage, is played by Molly Dumont who was featured in seven later Marx Brothers films. Her daughter is in love with a struggling architect who is blamed for stealing a diamond of Mrs. Potter’s, though her preferred suitor is blamed for the robbery. Naturally, with this cohort of people all together in one hotel, chaos ensues.

As with other Marx Brothers films, the plot, location, and character have little to do with the film. The scenery exists merely to set the stage for the chaotic and anarchic gags of the Marx Brothers. This adds a kind of timeless quality to their films.

Best Quotations from the Film:

“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”