Saturday, January 24, 2015

Go West (1940 film)

Directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Irving Brecher, Go West is the story of three men who travel to the American West to thwart some bad guys and help a couple in their relationship. The film is a western-comedy that stars the Marx Brothers in Groucho, Chico, and Harpo as they bring in their unique approach to chaos-based comedy. Also starring John Carroll, Diana Lewis, and Tully Marshall. Go West is a messy yet entertaining film from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers.

The film revolves a group of three men who travel to the American West where two of them are given land which a young man wants to use for the railroad where a group of scheming businessmen want to get that land for themselves. It’s a film with a simple premise as it features many of the attributes that is expected from the Marx Brothers in their approach to chaos. Yet, the story does lose sight as it’s quite messy and a bit hard to follow because there’s so much that is going on. Even as the motivations of the supporting characters for the main story gets overwhelmed by the antics of the Marx Brothers.

Edward Buzzell’s direction does have some unique compositions as well as elaborate gags and set pieces. Especially in scenes involving the train where there’s a lot of chaos that goes one while some of the dialogue features a lot of anachronisms that are intentional. It adds to the sense of chaos in the film with its use of close-ups and medium shots to capture the sense of action as well as some of the musical numbers in the film. There is a lot of energy that occurs but once the story involving the leads and the other characters come together, it loses some of its luster only to pick things up in its third act that involves a train chase and a confrontation with its antagonists. Overall, Buzzell creates a very entertaining but uneven film about three guys trying to stop crooked businessman from stealing land in the American West.

Cinematographer Leonard Smith does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of low-key lights for scenes set at night while using some stylish ones for some of the film‘s interior scenes. Editor Blanche Sewell does nice work with the editing as it‘s straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts for the comedic moments plus fade-outs and transition wipes. Art director Cedric Gibbons and set decorator Edwin B. Willis do fantastic work with the look of the saloon where some of the characters encounter each other as well as the small town where much of the film is set. Costume designers Gile Steele and Dolly Tree do terrific work with the costumes from the hats and clothes of the men designed by Steele to the women dresses created by Tree. Sound recordist Douglas Shearer does superb work with the sound to create some of the sound effects and capture the sense of chaos in some of the film‘s comical moments. Music director Georgie Stoll creates a wonderful soundtrack filled with original score music by Stoll plus a lot of original songs that are co-written by Gus Khan.

The film’s phenomenal cast includes some notable small roles from Mitchell Lewis as an Indian henchman, Joe Yule as the saloon bartender, Tully Marshall as the owner of the land who gives it away as he has no use for it, June MacCloy as a showgirl that is often flirted by Quayle, Robert Barratt as a devilish gunslinger named Baxter, and Walter Woolf King as the antagonist in the scheming John Beecher. Diana Lewis is wonderful as the land owner’s granddaughter Eve who is love with the man who is a family rival who wants to help the land. John Carroll is terrific as Terry Turner as Eve’s lover who wants to gain access to her grandfather’s land so he can use it as a railroad station and make money for the town and for her grandfather to settle a long-standing feud. Finally, there’s the Marx Brothers in brilliant performances with Chico as the smart-talking and cautious Joseph Panello while Harpo is hilarious as the silent but cunning Rusty Panello. Groucho is superb as S. Quentin Quayle as a schemer that wants to buy the land and help Turner and the Panello brothers make money while being very wry in his comments about everything.

Go West is a stellar and superb film from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers. While it may not have a strong story that is often overshadowed by the antics of the Marx Brothers which makes it uneven and messy. It is still a film that is very enjoyable where they do bring in some fine laughs. In the end, Go West is a very good film from the Marx Brothers.

Marx Brothers Films: (Humor Risk) - (I’ll Say She Is) - (The Cocoanuts (1925)) - (Animal Crackers (1928 film)) - (The Cocoanuts (1929 film)) - (Animal Crackers (1930 film)) - (The House That Shadows Built) - (Monkey Business) - Horse Feathers - Duck Soup - A Night at the Opera - A Day at the Races - Room Service - At the Circus - (The Big Store) - (A Night in Casablanca) - (Love Happy) - (The Story of Mankind)

© thevoid99 2015

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