Friday, January 16, 2015
Based on a play by Allen Boretz and John Murray, Room Service is the story of a Broadway producer trying to get a play produced while evading hotel bills. Directed by William A. Seiter, with additional work from James Anderson, and screenplay by Morrie Ryskind from a screen story by Glenn Tyron and Philip Loeb. The film is a comedy that plays into a man and his goons trying to stage a Broadway play as they create chaos as they’re played the Marx Brothers in Groucho, Chico, and Harpo. Also starring Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Alexander Arso, and Frank Albertson. Room Service is a witty and entertaining film from William A. Seiter and the Marx Brothers.
The film revolves a Broadway producer and his cronies who are in town to stage a Broadway musical as they try to avoid paying the hotel bills much to the dismay of the hotel manager. It’s a story that is very simple as it plays to elements of chaos as well as a subplot involving a young writer who would be part of these shenanigans. Yet, it’s a story that isn’t originated for the Marx Brothers as the result has some of the humor and wit not feel as natural. Still, there are elements where there’s a lot at stake involving the principle characters and the antagonist involved. Especially as the script plays into these guys trying to get their play going while doing whatever to survive in a hotel.
William A. Seiter’s direction is unique for the fact that much of the film is set in a hotel room with a few scenes in hallways and outside of the hotel. Much of the direction involve some unique framing devices in its approach to wide and medium shots in order to get the actors in the frame as well as the gags that are created. Even as much of the action as Seiter creating scenes where there’s some camera movements to capture a lot of the humor that includes scenes where the three main characters try to fool people in order to not pay the bill. The direction also includes some scenes outside of the hotel that play into that humor that includes the climatic moment where the play is about to open where all of the gags and attempts to elude paying the bills come into play. Overall, Seiter creates a very engaging and lively film about a Broadway producer and his friends trying not to pay the hotel bill.
Cinematographer J. Roy Hunt does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into the action inside of the hotel rooms as well as using some unique lights for the film‘s third act on the night of the play‘s opening. Editor George Crone does nice work with the editing as it‘s straightforward with some unique cuts to play into the humor. Art director Van Nest Polglase does brilliant work with the look of the hotel rooms where much of the film‘s action occurs including some of the small details to play into the personality of the characters. Gown designer Rene does amazing work with the look of the dresses the female characters wear. Sound recorder John L. Cass does terrific work with the sound from some of the sound effects that is captured as well as the gags that come into play. The film’s music by Roy Webb is fantastic as it is filled with some upbeat orchestral music to play into the humor along with songs for the play that adds to the sense of chaos.
The film’s superb cast includes some notable small roles from Charles Halton as a hotel doctor, Alexander Arso as a waiter who wants to be in the play, Clifford Dunstan as the hotel manager who is the producer’s brother-in-law, and Donald MacBride as a hotel troubleshooter who is trying to figure out what is going as he makes demands for the bills to be paid. Ann Miller is wonderful as Hilda Manney as a friend of the producer who falls for the play’s new writer. Frank Albertson is terrific as the writer Leo Davis who copes with the antics of the producer and his friend while trying to find a place to live. Lucille Ball is excellent as the play’s leading actress Christine Marlowe who helps out in some of the gags as she provides some funny moments though being a straight woman of sorts for the men.
Finally, there’s the Marx Brothers in amazing performances with Harpo as the silent yet resourceful Faker Englund who creates chaos while Chico plays the play’s director Harry Binelli who tries to make sure things keep going while doing whatever to fool the troubleshooter. Groucho is brilliant as the producer Gordon Miller who always say something funny while doing whatever to keep things going despite having no money.
Room Service is a stellar and enjoyable film from William A. Seiter and the Marx Brothers. While it’s a film that is very funny though it is flawed, it is still very entertaining for its sense of mayhem that only the Marx Brothers could bring. In the end, Room Service is a fun and exciting film from William A. Seiter and 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 - At the Circus - Go West - (The Big Store) - (A Night in Casablanca) - (Love Happy) - (The Story of Mankind)
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