Mr. Hammer runs a bankrupt Florida hotel. He'll try anything to make money, even make love to rich Mrs. Potter. But his main scheme, selling real estate, is in danger of sabotage from zanies Chico and Harpo, who also reduce the schemes of a pair of jewel thieves to chaos. A subplot involves the star-crossed love of Polly Potter and architect Bob Adams.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Chico Marx and Harpo Marx are not given character names. They are listed in the credits simply as "Chico" and "Harpo". Chico's name on the Broadway program was "Willy the Wop" which was considered too insensitive even for early movie audiences. Harpo's character was called "Silent Sam" See more »
In the opening scene, Hammer sends Jamison to meet a 4:15 train. When Jamison gets back, he refers to it as a 4:30 train. See more »
There it is. There it is, over there, right where that cocoanut tree is. Now what am I offered for lot #21?
Two hundred dollars
Why, my friend, there's more than two hundred dollars worth of milk in those cocoanuts - and *what* milk, milk from contented cow-co-nuts. Who will say 300?
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Instead of a conventional cast list, the actors are presented as they might be in a stage program: a single visual showing cameo portraits of the leading players identified by both their character names and their own. See more »
When the bellboys are protesting against being unpaid, Zeppo tells them that Groucho has yet to arise at four in the afternoon. His comforting postscript, that Groucho always gets up on Wednesday, precedes his arrival. This scene was shot, but later cut after the preview, leaving Groucho descending down the stairs, still putting on his coat, allowing time to ward off his staff to catch a 4:15 train.
Another item that was cut from the preview version of the film was a love ballad sung by Groucho to Margaret Dumont entitled "A Little Bungalow". Originally sung in the play by the romantic leads Polly Potter and Robert Adams, the song slowed up the picture.
Contrary to popular belief, Cocoanuts was not the first Marx Brothers movie. That honor belongs to Humorisk, a silent film which no longer exists. It was greeted with such hostility that one master reel was burned, and the other deteriorated in a producer's closet. It is difficult to imagine Chico and Groucho in a silent film, and while one might envision Harpo as the ultimate silent comedian, his whistling and horn-honking formed an essential part of his act.
By 1929, however, sound was here to stay, and many silent comics suddenly found themselves out of work. In fact, the only two comedians to successfully make the transition from silent to sound were Laurel and Hardy (Chaplin didn't make his first sound movie until 1940, and was never comfortable with sound). Comedy teams like Stan and Ollie and the Marx Brothers needed dialog; even Harpo communicated with his brothers using broad gestures and the aforementioned honks and whistles.
The biggest story of 1929 (besides the stock market crash) was the Florida land boom. Mr. Hammer (Groucho) is the manager of a struggling hotel, trying to lure customers so that he can sell them Florida lots. Of course, Astoria, Long Island, where this movie was filmed, is not exactly the Sunshine State, and the opening tribute to "sunny Florida" shows us some sand poured on a sound stage to simulate a beach and a painted backdrop of palm trees and coconut. Groucho pursues the rich Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont), whose daughter Polly (Mary Eaton) is in love with Bob Adams (Oscar Shaw). Also interested in Polly (or rather, her mother's money) is Harvey Yates (Cyril Ring). Together with his parter Penelope (Kay Francis), they decide to steal Mrs. Potter's expensive necklace and blame it on Bob, easing the way for Yates to marry Polly.
The highlight of the film is the famous "Why a duck?" routine. It's Chico versus the English language, and guess who wins? When Groucho tells Chico that there's going to be an auction, he replies: "I come from Italy on the Atlantic Auction." When Groucho talks about levees, Chico thinks that's the Jewish neighborhood. When he asks him what a radius is, Chico responds that it's WJZ, at that time a popular New York radio station. And when it comes to the word "viaduct" he is totally lost.
Groucho: "Here's a little peninsula and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland."
Chico: "OK, why a duck? Waya no chicken?" Having been told by Groucho to keep the bidding high during the auction, Chico, in a very funny scene, takes over the whole show, refusing to let anyone else in on the action.
As far as the music is concerned, it is difficult to imagine Irving Berlin writing such drivel as "When My Dreams Come True" and "Monkey Doodle-Do." The former is sung in a duet between Mary Eaton and Oscar Shaw (whom Groucho described as "strictly no-talent"). Indeed it's hard to determine which is worse-Shaw's acting or his singing.
There was a song written for "Cocoanuts," however, that was rejected because it made the show too long. It became one of Berlin's greatest hits. The song was "Always."
The print quality varies from good to fair. It appears that Universal spliced together scenes from several different prints to make one entire movie.
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