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  • Despite not having a reputation as one of the better Marx Brothers films, I still found this to be a typical MB movie with crazy scenes and a few songs. No, it may not have been as funny as their better-known films of the 1930s, but I didn't think it much below them, either.

    It's not as totally outrageous as the boys' earlier stuff but it also has fewer stupid stuff, too. Make no mistake: it has its share of genuinely funny material, both in dialog and in sight gags. The finale is a wild chase scene on a train that is very, very entertaining. That holds true for a wild stagecoach ride earlier in the picture. Once again, Chico comes up with the funniest lines.

    I think this is a solid comedy and an underrated Marx Brothers film . If you like "the boys" in their more well-known films, don't pass this one by.
  • I have to go back to being somewhat of a contrarian on this one. The consensus is that Go West is passable, at least, but not one of the better Marx Brothers films. Tied up with that is the fact that Go West is a late-career Marx Brothers film. It's in their MGM period, which many fans consider not as good as their earlier Paramount period. They were all around 50 years old while shooting this one. The follow-up was The Big Store (1941), after which they announced that they were officially retiring as a comedy team. They ended up doing a couple more films together in the 1940s--A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Love Happy (1949), but the conventional wisdom has it that those were provoked more by a need to pay for Chico's gambling debts than they were by a desire to make a film together (which is not to say that they're not good films).

    For me, however, Go West is another excellent entry in a long string of Marx Brothers films that are primarily 10 out of 10s. Maybe it's that I'm also a big fan of westerns, but this western spoof is sublimely enjoyable. Western parodies were big in 1940, the year of Go West's first release (its wide release came in 1941), with W.C. Fields' My Little Chickadee premiering in February and Jack Benny's Buck Benny Rides Again opening in May. Perhaps because of that climate, Go West did better critically and popularly when it opened than would be indicated by its current "middling" reputation. But as with anything, there is a lot of crowd following in opinions on films. The consensus tends to evolve over time, despite the fact that the films themselves do not change.

    Go West has Groucho Marx in his usual huckster mode as S. Quentin Quale. He's short $10 for his train fare to head to the western United States. He spots Joseph (Chico Marx) and Rusty Panello (Harpo Marx), takes them for a couple suckers and tries to bilk them of $10. But they're better con artists than he is, and end up ripping him off instead.

    Somehow they all end up out west anyway. Joseph and Rusty come into possession of the deed to Dead Man's Gulch, which Terry Turner (John Carroll) was hoping to sell (his grandfather is the one who gave it to Joseph and Rusty) to the railroad magnates back east so they can complete the first transcontinental line. Go West ends up being about a number of people attempting to con each other out of money and the deed, in a race to see who can get it to New York first.

    Of course, the plot is primarily an excuse for a series of gags. Like usual, the comedy in the film is a balance between slapstick and intellectual humor. Appealing to my tastes, the Marx Brothers are often surrealistic in their humor, as well, both verbally and visually. They continually play "games" with the conventions of film in general and the western in particular, making this clear right off the bat--any pretense at holding the plot supreme is joyously sabotaged in the first 10 minutes when Go West becomes an extended gag instead (as the brothers try to bilk each other out of the money needed for train fare). The gag could just as well be set on any stage, in any context, and work the same. The name of the game is irreverence--towards film, towards the genre, and towards various other conventions, including those they have established for themselves in previous films--and the Marxes do it as well or better than anyone else.

    The gags are pleasantly varied, but the film has some wonderfully serious moments that work well, too. Each brother gets a song, and each song is at least semi-sincere. Chico shows off his skills at the piano, eventually playing in the upper registers with a piece of fruit. During a scene where they have to spend the night with an Indian tribe, Harpo transforms a loom into a harp and ends up performing a beautiful jazz tune. Groucho plays guitar and gives us slightly bizarre singing that resides somewhere between authentic blues and vaudeville goofiness. Although these moments might at first seem like unwelcome breaks from the otherwise madcap proceedings, the songs are magnificent, and temporarily become transcendent moments that one wishes wouldn't end.

    Go West is most famous, perhaps, for its climactic train sequence, and rightfully so. The brothers channel the Keystone Cops and produce an extended series of increasingly outrageous, surreal and hilarious stunts/gags. Buster Keaton's infamous film The General (1927) was an obvious influence, and in fact, Keaton was an uncredited writer for Go West, as Keaton was employed as a gag writer for MGM at this time. I don't want to give any of the material away here, but it's worth watching the film for the climax alone, and in fact, during the pre-VCR days when 8mm home projectors were all the rage, the ending of Go West was siphoned off and marketed by itself.

    The Marx Brothers' performances are fine, of course, as are all of the technical elements, but the rest of the cast is great, too. Just watch the subtle range of attitudes that the two "villains" progress through while chasing the train in their relatively simple cart, for example. And of course, like always, it doesn't hurt that there are beautiful women around, even if there not in the film that much.

    While I agree that Go West is perhaps not the best Marx Brothers film, that's only because they have so many 10s that it's too difficult to pick. Even if you end up thinking that it pales compared to their Paramount-era work, Go West is still worth seeing.
  • Go West is a solid effort, with its share of funny jokes. There's a good song, which isn't common in the Marx Brothers films, and both the piano and harp numbers are good. The movie slows down big time nearer the end, although some of the train sequence is surreal, especially when it runs into a house. 7/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dead Man's Gulch is the locale for this Marx Brothers western spoof, and whoever holds the deed to the town at the end of the show is a rich man. As you can imagine, the deed itself is up for grabs, and changes hands any number of times before the grand finale. Groucho is S. Quentin Quale, in turn hoodwinked and aided by brothers Joe and Rusty Panello (Chico and Harpo). As usual, Groucho woos the ladies - "Lulubelle, it's you, I didn't recognize you standing up"!. Harpo is also in fine form, playing harmonica on horseback, and serenading an Indian camp with a makeshift harp. The frenetic pace is just enough to keep you off kilter and entertained at the same time. It's all silly fun of course, and by the time the film ends, the outcome of the deed doesn't even matter. So head on over to the Crystal Palace, and "Go West".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a Marx Brothers comedy, "Go West" is in my opinion great, considerably better than the critics make it out to be. Although a period film, it is quite surprising to find Harpo and Chico (pronounced "Chicko") wearing their traditional contemporary costumes about midway through. Anyhow, right from the get-go, Groucho is up to his usual wisecracking, and the other two maniacs are up to their customary con-artist shenanigans. AND the two romantic leads (John Carroll and Diana Lewis) are quite appealing to me and hardly dull, contrary to what other critics have stated. Throw in a couple of heavies (every Western film needs them) like Walter Woolf King and Robert Barrat as a pair of money-hungry land grabbers, and you have the foundation for a remarkable Marx Bros. action/comedy/romance.

    Here are my personal favorite scenes from "Go West" (DO NOT read any further if you have not yet seen the film). The fabulous extended locomotive sequence at the end of the picture boasts a fair number of clever gags, among them being the train taking out a house while a carpenter works on the roof; the Marx Bros. chopping up the train cars and "borrowing" baggage for kindling; and Rusty Panello (Harpo) stretching himself to rejoin two cars that have separated. For a much less intense offering, Terry Turner (Carroll) and the Marx Bros. sing "Ridin' the Range" with Rusty accompanying on harmonica and S. Quentin Quale (Groucho) on guitar, because what would a Marx Bros. film be without music? Speaking of music, Chico (as Rusty's brother Joseph Panello) does well as always with his unique ivory-tickling technique, but I've never seen anybody play the piano with an orange! Quale offers a necklace to a beautiful Native American girl, but she bluntly replies, "No like. Want Cadillac Sedan," thus forcing Quale to conclude that she has not spent much time on a reservation; he then introduces Rusty as the tribe's new totem pole, to which Harpo incorporates his ever famous Gookie face. Speaking of Native Americans, "Go West" is in my opinion most offensive in its treatment of them, but Harpo thankfully makes up for this when his character Rusty wins the chief's respect by allowing him to play flute with Rusty's jazzy harp. During the rollicking stagecoach ride, a woman complains about "the jerks in the coach", prompting the Panello brothers to react accordingly. Quale and Joe Panello are hilarious during their off-camera drunken banter while Rusty cracks a safe. Rusty performs a hilarious showdown with Red Baxter (Barrat). And finally, "Nine dollars change, please."

    Whew! I wrote a lot of details about "Go West", didn't I? Maybe I shouldn't have been so specific, but I just wanted to convey my love of this film and my conviction that it is not the big letdown that others claim it to be. See it for yourself and catch a lot of laughs.
  • Patchy but still fairly enjoyable Marx Bros. vehicle. Their unique brand of comedy adapts reasonably well to the Western format though, at the end of the day, a lot more could have been done with this situation; the film suffers in comparison with their 'classic' stuff, but even more so when measured against other comics' brush with the genre – particularly two ambitious Buster Keaton masterworks, OUR HOSPITALITY (1923) and THE GENERAL (1927), and Laurel & Hardy's (more straightforward but) equally delightful and inspired WAY OUT WEST (1937)!

    That said, a number of scenes here deliver the goods: the ticket-office sketch at the beginning, the stagecoach ride, the robbery of the safe and, of course, the climactic train 'wreck; on the debit side: the songs in this one are particularly negligible.

    My verdict, therefore, is that GO WEST is a worthwhile comedy but a lesser Marx Bros. film.
  • The movies from the Marx Bros. are just like my old Bowie's vinyls, or my Oscar Wilde's books: they're always there, and always will be. They're just like those old friends that will never let you down.

    "Go West" has each and everyone of the essential ingredients of the movies from Groucho and co. : hilarious dialogs, crazy situations, Harpo's hooliganism, the music... everything goes as quick as a flash. So, if some youngster thinks that this movie hasn't anything to offer because it was made 65 years ago, thats belongs to the Pleistocenic... OK, I won't waste my time explaining why the Marx Brothers are bigger than life. I'd rather watch "Duck Soup" or "A Night At The Opera" one more time, and let the party begin once again...

    *My rate: 8/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The most significant thing about Go West is that Buster Keaton was an uncredited writer on this film. He also was on A Night at the Opera but the Keaton touch is more difficult to discern there.

    The Marx Bros. have a reputation as verbal comics (Harpo excluded, of course), but one must note many of their best scenes are visual. The mirror sequence in Duck Soup is the prime example. Others include the unpacking scene in A Night in Casablanca, the "massacre" that ends Animal Crackers, large parts of the football game (and the final marriage scene) in Horse Feathers. Even something as minor as Groucho flicking ashes into a call pipe to the engineers of the ship in Monkey Business shows just how important the visual can be, even for Groucho.

    Keaton, of course, was virtually 100% visual. Occasionally there are subtle jokes in the subtitles of his films (His "Can you describe it?" to a woman looking for a lost dollar bill in Sherlock Jr. is an example), but that's about it.

    What this means is that a Marx Brothers film partly written by Buster Keaton is not a combination of irreconcilable ideas. Keaton's contributions here do not become crystal clear until the last 15 minutes of the film, the climactic train chase.

    There are lots of similarities between gags from Our Hospitality (the train leaving the track yet still running), Steamboat Bill Jr (Harpo escapes being run over as the train with a house stuck on the front comes at him by opening a front door, then opening a back door, calling to mind the falling building facade Buster faced in the earlier film) and, of course, the General (chopping up the train for firewood), but the thing that's most noteworthy about The General is just how long Keaton can sustain a chase (it virtually runs the entire film), and the Go West sequence is marvelously sustained comedy.

    The Big Store also has the Brothers doing physical shtick, but the absence of the surreal makes them look like nothing more than slightly more sophisticated three stooges. They are not three stooges here. Harpo uses the wheel of the train to sharpen an ax, kerosene instead of water is used to douse an engine's fire resulting in it taking off at hyper speed, Groucho is buried beneath an avalanche of popcorn put in the train's fire as fuel. Something like watching the train go off the track and then go into a circle as merry-go-round music plays just seems like pure Keaton and pure Marx.

    Although not Duck Soup (what is, other than Duck Soup?) the film to me is the best thing they did between A Night at the Opera and A Night in Casablanca. Groucho's character is more along the lines of his Paramount persona than his avuncular Day at the Races one. He finally seems totally unfettered again. Harpo, too, is unfettered (although maybe it would be better to say unleashed). He's given a large number of bits where he's not depending on Chico or anyone else to bring off the gag. And Chico seems almost as delightfully corrupt as he is in the Cocoanuts.

    The film is slowed by a few too many musical numbers, too much of a sappy romantic subplot about families in feuds. and the scenes among stereotypical Native Americans are diminished by a few too many "ugh"'s and references to "the red man." Yet the pacing is fast enough, and delivery and lines sharp enough, to keep all the balls up in the air to the end. This is the first film since Duck Soup to unequivocally seem like the Marxes as they would play it in a Paramount film (A Night in Casablanca would be the last).

    And this is all lead-up to the final train sequence which, as any climax must be, is the best one of the film.

    More than the scene in Limelight where Keaton and Chaplin do a comedy routine (an opportunity Chaplin seems to have tossed with mediocre gags), Keaton's working with the Marx Brothers is a remarkable moment in film history, and one that worked well enough to redeem alater comedy of the Marx Brothers.
  • After the success of A DAY AT THE RACES the Marx Brothers had a serious problem. The man who brought them back into the movie game has been Irving Thalberg, who took them seriously as comic artists, let them rehearse and hone their material on stage, and gave them a percentage of the gross sales, had died in 1937. Thalberg's rival, Louis B. Mayer grabbed control of Thalberg's production unit. Mayer (whose negative effects on careers from John Gilbert to Judy Garland are becoming more known as time passes) hated comedians, and he disliked people who got contracts that took profits away from his company. He was, in fact, a selfish individual who got his just deserts in the 1950s when he was thrown out of his job by his shareholders, and found nobody in Hollywood wanted anything to do with him.

    Mayer had no great love for the Marxes, and allowed RKO a loan out of them for ROOM SERVICE. I feel that film has a lot still going for it, but many people don't like it as too confining for the antics of the Marxes. Then in 1939 MGM put them into AT THE CIRCUS, even bringing back Margaret Dumont. But the results are generally mediocre (although Groucho has one of his best songs, "Lydia the Tattooed Lady"). It was symptomatic of Mayer's lack of interest in their film work - they were not sent out to test their material.

    Then in 1940 came GO WEST.

    The Marx Brothers had not been the first comedians that Mayer disliked. He had a negative view of silent film genius Buster Keaton. Keaton's masterpieces of the silent films had been successful for the most part, but he had been produced by Joseph Schenck, his brother-in-law, and a rival of Mayer. Joe Schenck died in the early 1930s. At that time Keaton's films were not doing as well as in his heyday, mostly due to contracts with MGM that took away his independence in production matters. Also his wife, Nathalie Talmadge, was finding her movie stardom ending, and their marriage was collapsing. Keaton took to heavy drinking, which hurt his performances in the sound films he made. Jimmy Durante was co-starred in several films with Keaton, like THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER and WHAT, NO BEER! but though the men became friends their styles of humor did not mesh. By 1935 Keaton was a has-been in Hollywood, and by the end of the decade was only appearing in minor films as comedy relief, or used as a gag writer.

    Possibly Mayer decided (for some twisted reason) to put Keaton on the writing staff for GO WEST. It certainly was not with any belief in the "Great Stone Face" as a gag man or a comedian. But it is also more than likely that he put him into it to damage the Marxes still more, and to humiliate Keaton. Knowing Mayer I would not put it past him.

    Groucho Marx lived to become a national icon due to his movie, radio, and television career. In his later years (before senility began to affect him) he was invited on all the talk shows, and would discuss his brothers and their films, and comedy in general. He would also drop off his acid comments which made the audiences laugh (it helped Groucho that he lived long enough to find less censorship of his lines than he faced in the 1930s and 1940s). But he was a disagreeable man in private life, being thoroughly honest on one hand, but thoroughly nasty on the other. With Keaton, given his recovering alcoholic state in 1940, you had to be respectful and kindly.

    Keaton had a dream that never reached the screen. In 1933 he had seen GRAND HOTEL, and liked the concept of interlocking stories involving sets of big name stars. He wanted to do a comic version called GRAND MILLS HOTEL, with himself, Laurel and Hardy, Marie Dressler, and other comedians (Edward Everett Horton was another) intermingling in a third rate hotel. The idea never came to fruition. No doubt, in thinking of it, Keaton might have considered having the Marxes in the film too. He was a genuine appreciator of comic genius.

    But here it was 1940, and Keaton was working on a film with the Marxes. Keaton went to a script meeting, and outlined an idea for a scene. Groucho listened. His expression was bland. When it was finished, apparently with a sneer, Groucho said: "You really think that was funny?" Keaton, somewhat crestfallen, replied: "I just thought it might fellows are pretty funny by yourselves."

    There are Keatonian touches in the movie: Harpo's showdown with the saloon keeper town boss, where he pulls out a shaving brush that fires a shot into the floor. Also the wrecking of the train at the conclusion, which reminds one of Keaton's love of trains (OUR HOSPITALITY, THE GENERAL). Possibly he had a hand in the great opening of the film, where Groucho is the city slicker fleeced by Chico and Harpo when he tries to fleece them. It did not help GO WEST that only three years before Laurel and Hardy made one of their two best features, WAY OUT WEST, nor that W.C.Fields and Mae West did MY LITTLE CHICKADIE in 1939. Both of those films are way better than the slow going GO WEST.

    One wishes that Groucho had been more charitable to Keaton, because the latter did finally find a comedian who listened and worked with him. That was Red Skelton, who would work on several films with Keaton in the late 1940s and early 1950s, one of which, A SOUTHERN YANKEE, is very funny indeed. But Keaton allowed Groucho precedence of being a successful comic in GO WEST, with mediocre results. Perhaps Groucho deserved the failure that resulted. Hubris is it's own reward.
  • The Marx Brothers' "Go West" is a vastly underrated gem. Admist a few comparatively disappointing later years Marx movies, it was certainly the strongest. I grew up on the Marx Brothers via my father (even though most of them were made before he was born as well), and ended up liking them so much I eventually bought every movie they made, and most of the documentaries, three single Groucho movies, two sets of 'You Bet Your Life' episodes, and even 'The Story of Mankind,' featuring the three primary brothers, though in small parts in separate segments...(Many books by and/or about them too.) In any case, I'm a huge fan. Even with all this, I admit that there are a handful of pretty weak Marx films. Love Happy was pretty awful on most levels, though little Harpo bits, and one or two Groucho lines give it its only very brief redemption. The Big Store was also pretty fairly terrible, with again, the only worthwhile notes being a few Groucho quips, and a few Harpo physical bits. Room Service and At The Circus as well suffered, as all their movies after the big MGM ones (Opera & races) did, due to the studios lack of interest and confidence in putting money and attention into the productions. Room Service and At the Circus both felt like they should've and could've been more, though each had a handful or more of perfectly enjoyable moments. And re-watching A Night in Casablanca (which at least a little more time and money was put into for what she really be considered their true final film, rather than the slapped together for quick cash 'Love Happy', which was originally a Harpo solo project), I've come to realize that Casablanca is stronger than I remembered, but still felt stale for much of it compared to their classics. So I suppose I better get the reason for this review-- So, in the middle of all these lesser like, later years fare, came Go West (in 1940). And I have to say, it has gotten an unfair rap from fans, critics and Groucho himself (though he was that way about much of their movies, sadly). I think, even with it's slapdash absurdity and overwrought gags, that it holds up better, and has better, more solid comedy than any of they other movies after A Day at the Races. In fact, and I know I'm essentially alone in saying this, but, I actually find it more entertaining than A Day at the Races (I think). There are some brilliant moments/lines for three brothers that felt more akin to there early madcap movies (the best ones), and I even enjoy the silly songs, and western pastiche elements, and the physical gags are stronger than the movies before and after as well. In any case, fans (and critics too) should give it another watch, and just let it try to entertain you, it really is a lot of fun, and hilarious.
  • I have a real soft spot for "Go West". It's a little less frantic, has a

    mellow vibe and it's obvious they enjoyed making it. I liked the

    songs and many of the sequences, particularly the "outfitter" and

    also the train sequence which is such a metaphor for modern life

    (they are in such a hurry to "get there" that they totally destroy and

    burn the entire contents and structure of the train so when they

    arrive at their destination there is nothing left but skeletal

    wreckage). This alone is worth any other disappointments the film

    may hold for you. I would say, don't skip over this one. And, to get

    to the required 10 lines, I will say it again: don't skip over this one.

  • SanteeFats2 October 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Okay not all of the Marx Brothers movies were really funny. This is not true, in my opinion, for this movie. The scene at the train station when the three are trying to buy tickets west is classic. Then they all get out west and of course it is one joke after another. The scene in the Indian camp is probably considered to be non-politically correct today, especially since all the Indians are obviously white and speak gibberish. I don't care any more. It has some funny lines and the music is great. If you can not take a joke don't watch, again my opinion. These brothers were sooo musically talented it still surprises me when I watch their movies. Anyway a pretty good film and of course the good guys, gal too, win in the end.
  • S. Quentin Quale (Groucho Marx) is a con-man heading west. He encounters seemingly bumbling brothers Joseph (Chico Marx) and Rusty Panello (Harpo Marx) in a train station and ends up losing his money to them. The brothers meet old miner Dan Wilson who hasn't found gold for 40 years on his property, Dead Man's Gulch. They lend him $10 and get the property as collateral. Meanwhile, Terry Turner arranges the sale of the property to the railroad for $50k. The Turners and Wilsons are rivals. Terry hopes to ease the rivalry with the sale and marry Dan's granddaughter Eve Wilson. Saloon owner Red Baxter receives a telegram to get the property. The boys write an IOU on the back of the deed to pay for beer at Red's saloon.

    This is full of the Marx brothers antics. Chico plays the piano. Groucho is the heel. Harpo doesn't talk and finds an usual harp with the Indians. This comes after a string of iconic Marx brothers comedy hits. These things come in cycles and the guys may be wearing out their welcome. They haven't changed their verbal gags and there are still songs. The last act is all action on a train and that's plenty of fun. For Marx fans, this should still hit the spot.
  • The sad fact about the Marx Brothers is that after the movie A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, their career was all downhill. While A DAY AT THE RACES and ROOM SERVICE were still very good, their subsequent efforts were painfully ordinary and generally unfunny compared to their early zany work. It was like they were playing lethargic caricatures of themselves. And, from what I gathered, the Marxes WERE very content to just collect a paycheck at this point in their lives. This film is a little better than THE BIG STORE and AT THE CIRCUS--two surprisingly bland efforts from the same time period by the comedy team.

    Some of the blame for the static nature of this film also must be given to MGM--a studio that had a history of ruining good comedians when they came under DIRECT MGM control (Laurel and Hardy's films were distributed by MGM but were created by the independent-minded Hal Roach Studios). If you don't believe me, look at all the Marxes films from the late 30s on as well as Buster Keaton's films of the 30s--they rely on an MGM formula and lack all the frenetic intensity of the comedians' earlier non-MGM efforts.

    The film is a by-the-book effort where the Marx Brothers travel west in search of fun and adventure. Soon, the three get pulled into a land deal and they get cheated by the saloon owner, Baxter (Robert Barrat). So, much of the rest of the film is spent trying to get back the deed for this property. In addition, there is a needless romance John Carroll and Diana Lewis. Useless because folks who go to see Marx Brothers films really don't want romance--unless it involves Groucho or Harpo chasing women. Overall, not an unpleasant film but as for the comedy, it was amazingly muted. Among the best moments were when Groucho and his brothers kept trying to cheat each other as well as the climactic train ride. And, among the worst was the American Indian portion--which was long, unfunny and irrelevant to the film.

    By the way, what happened to grandpa (Tully Marshall)? He just disappeared from the film and at one point someone asked where he was...but this character who was important to the plot just vanished.
  • rbverhoef24 January 2004
    'Go West' was the first movie from the Marx Brothers that I saw. Because I saw this one before their great movies like 'Duck Soup' I was able to appreciate this one completely. I don't want to call the movie great but since everything was new to me I had a very good time.

    Groucho Marx is S. Quentin Quale and Chico and Harpo are the brothers Joe and Rusty Panello. The two brothers and Quale are heading west to find fortune. The movie starts with a very funny sequence where the two brothers steal some money from Quale. After this the movie has some slow sequences without very big laughs, especially when the brothers and Quale are not yet working together. There is a nice scene with Chico playing the piano in a great and very funny way that gives the movie some spirit again. Everything leads up to the scenes on a train and I have to say that once they are on the thing every gag is good for a laugh. May be some of the events are inspired by Buster Keaton's 'The General' but they're funny anyway.

    Why the brothers and Quale have to work together, what the story is, is not really important. The story is just there to prepare a new joke. Because most of them work I think this is a very nice movie with a great start and finish and may be a part that is a little too slow in the middle. The Marx Brothers have a great talent for comedy and they do show that here, although we know they can do better.
  • bkoganbing2 December 2007
    Though Go West does have its moments, it's not quite in the same league as the brothers earlier MGM films, A Night At The Opera, and A Day At The Races, let alone their Paramount films. It's also not as good a western spoof as Laurel&Hardy's Way Out West or Abbott&Costello's Ride 'Em Cowboy.

    When the Marx Brothers left Paramount, Zeppo did not make the trip, so it was MGM's practice to give the brothers a fourth man who happened to be a singer. Unlike Allan Jones in the two previous mentioned films, John Carroll does not get into the Marxian horseplay, nor did he get songs as good as Kenny Baker did in At the Circus and Tony Martin in The Big Store. He sings the rather forgettable Rding the Range with accompaniment by the brothers.

    The plot of this film has to do with the Brothers trying to help Diana Lewis get the deed to her grandfather's property that they mistakenly turned over to villains Robert Barrat and Walter Woolf King so Harpo could get a 10 cent beer. The railroad wants to pay $50,000.00 for the right of way.

    I got the feeling in watching Go West that a lot might have been left on the cutting room floor. Probably of some of the other characters so that it would solely concentrate on the Marxes. Bad idea because it sacrificed some plot development.

    In a few years Diana Lewis would leave the screen to become the third and final Mrs. William Powell. She was a pretty woman, kind of like Jean Harlow without the platinum coiffure. It is said that's what attracted Powell to her.

    The final sequence with the locomotive chase was funny, but also totally ripped off from Buster Keaton's The General. Not surprising since Keaton had a hand in the production. But a lot of the Marx kind of humor was missing. Nothing as good as their version of Il Trovatore or Chico fleecing Groucho at the racetrack.

    Go West is minor league Marx. Bud and Lou and Stan and Ollie did a whole lot better out on the western plains.
  • Basically , a highly farcical treatment of one chapter in the building of the first transcontinental railroad. This is confirmed by the parting scene, which is a farcical recreation of the pounding of the golden spike at Promontory Point, UT. The choosing of this topic for a plot may have been influenced by De Mille's epic: "Union Pacific" , released the previous year. It also appears to have been influenced by Keaton's "The General". Especially, for Marx Brothers fans, this is certainly worth a look.

    Initially, Chico and Harpo are going West(specifically the gold rush center of Cripple Creek, CO) to find gold or perhaps fleece those who have found it. Simultaneously, embezzler and all around con man Groucho is heading west to practice his vocation. Chico and Harpo's cheating of Groucho during the exchange of money for items is a riot. When Groucho goes to the train ticket window, he quips "That's highway robbery. No wonder you're behind bars". Later, when taking a stagecoach, "the 3 jerks" create havoc among the male and female passengers. The plot is mainly about the disposition of the deed to a plot of land: Dead Man's Gulch, considered worthless because no gold has been found on that land. However, it has suddenly become very valuable, as the railroad has decided it is the key to the most practical route over the Rockies. This deed gets passed around as collateral for IOUs or is stolen. The boys attempt to foil an attempt by crooks to cash in on the deed. There are a number of musical interludes. Lulubelle sings "You Can't Argue with Love" on stage. Eve sings "Beautiful Dreamer" alone in her house.. While leisurely riding horses, John Carroll(as Terry Turner) leads the singing of "Riding the Range". Harpo plays the harp and Chico plays the piano in the saloon.

    I think the segment involving a visit to an Indian reservation could have been deleted as irrelevant to the plot. Besides, there are too many erroneous "Hollywood Indian" clichés. Ugh. However, Harpo does improvise a harp out of a loom, and the chief accompanies him with a flute.

    The climactic last segment involving "the great locomotive chase"(with apologies to Fess Parker and Disney) is what most people remember about this film. I can see that the whole thing would probably be hilarious to children. It could be almost as effective in a silent film.

    In being totally silent(except for his horn), Harpo mimics the traditional circus clown and some clowns of silent films. But unlike the latter and often the former, he has distinctive charismatic talking companions and others to greatly expand the possibilities of the total comedy experience. As in this film, we can complement the comedy with singing, instrumental music, and dance, only possible to a rudimentary level in silent films. Unfortunately, many reviewers seem to see the musical interludes as wasted time between comedy, which they may be in some instances, but not all.
  • The Marx Bros. head to the Old West to find their fortune and become involved with a railroad scheme. There's also some stuff about a guy trying to settle a family feud so he can marry the girl he loves. Count me among those who prefer the Marx Bros' zanier earlier films at Paramount to the ones at MGM. Certainly the first few films at MGM are classics but after that the Marx films go downhill. By the 1940s they were putting out half-hearted efforts that seemed like they were parodying themselves. There's a scene early on in a train station where the three do a bit where Chico & Harpo rip off Groucho. The bit starts off mildly amusing but is so familiar that, by the end, I found the whole thing more tiresome than funny. Which is a good summary of this entire movie. The scene on the stagecoach with the passengers and all the hat-passing nonsense with Harpo is another example. This isn't to say there aren't any good parts. There are some funny scenes and lines but none particularly memorable. There are also the obligatory musical numbers we all hate. The worst of which is "Ridin' the Range," with a crooning John Carroll backed up by the brothers. It's possibly the corniest scene from any Marx Bros. movie. The funniest scenes are the early ones and the train stuff at the end. The middle drags. Fans of the Marxes will likely enjoy this more than people not familiar with them.
  • lugonian15 August 2006
    GO WEST (MGM, 1940), directed by Edward Buzzell, capitalizes on the recent popularity of the western genre that began in 1938-39, placing the three Marx Brothers in the old west, circa 1870, shortly before "Don Ameche's invention of the telephone." Although not in the classic western comedy sense as MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (Universal, 1940) featuring Mae West and W.C. Fields, GO WEST (no relation to the 1925 Buster Keaton silent) has something going for it. No, they didn't get to find out how the West was won, nor do the Marx Brothers get to have their frequent foil, Margaret Dumont, sporting western attire and shooting up the town like Annie Oakley. It does, however, provide some fine comical moments that would keep the Marx Brothers and their gag writers from getting lynched by theater patrons.

    Forward: "In 1851, Horace Greeley uttered a phrase that did much to change the history of the United States. He said, 'Go west, young man, go west.' This is a story of three men who made Horace Greeley sorry he said it." The plot revolves around the deed to worthless property of Dead Man's Gulch acquired by Dan Wilson (Tully Marshall) forty years ago from a crook named Turner. Terry (John Carroll), Turner's grandson, wants to marry Eve (Diana Lewis), Wilson's granddaughter, and in order to put an end of the Wilson-Turner feud and amend his grandfather's thievery, he requests the executive board of the New York and Western Railroad Company to link Cripple Creek to the Pacific by ways of Dead Man's Gulch so that Wilson will get $50,000 for his property. Because Wilson is in need for $10 to buy a grubstake, his helpers, the Panello brothers, Joe (Chico) and Rusty (Harpo), who have come west digging for gold, offer him the money. As security for the loan, Wilson signs over his deed to them. While at the Crystal Palace Saloon in Birch City, Rusty steals a keg of beer to quench his thirst. In order to pay for the 10 cent drink, Joe signs an I.O.U. over to "Red" Baxter (Robert Barrat), the town boss, unwittingly on the back of Wilson's deed. Baxter places the deed in his cash register so he and joint-owner John Beecher (Walter Wolfe King), who's to arrive in town, could sell it to the railroad company at their asking price. Beecher intends on buying the deed for $500 while S. Quenton Quale (Groucho), a representative and embezzler, offers $10,000. Realizing his error, Joe has Rusty retrieve the deed from Baxter's cash register, giving it to Quale for his asking price and offer the money to Wilson's granddaughter. Quale intentions on cheating the Panello brothers backfires when Baxter and Beecher join forces and cheat him instead. They get the deed, with Baxter putting it in his safe. The method of how Quale, Joe and Rusty retain the deed remains to be seen.

    On the musical program: "You Can't Argue With Love" by Gus Kahn and Bronislau Kaper (sung by deep-voiced June MacCloy); "The Woodpecker Song" (piano solo by Chico); "Beautiful Dreamer" by Stephen Foster (sung by Diana Lewis); "Ridin' the Range Together" by Roger Edens and Gus Kahn; (sung by John Carroll); and "From the Land of the Sky Blue Water" (harp solo on loom by Harpo on Indian reservation) by Charles Wakefield Cadman.

    Placing the Marx Brothers in a western setting  is a welcome change of pace. Even Chico abandons his traditional pointy hat, until the latter half of the story anyway. Although amusing, the good guys vs. the bad guys over a deed was handled so much better when Laurel and Hardy did it WAY OUT WEST (1937). GO WEST is not a bad movie, but should have been better. It shows great promise with its hilarious ten minute opening at the train station where wiseacre Groucho is outsmarted by Chico and Harpo for money (Chico: $9 change please), and redeems itself from prior weakness near the finish with its 15-minute Keystone comedy type locomotive race against time as the wild bunch take over command as engineers with Groucho yelling "Timber" to acquire more wood for the steam engine. There's a great bit with Harpo hanging on between two railroad cars and slowly stretching as the coaches grow further apart. Other comic supplements, ranging from good to average, include Groucho and Chico's flirtation with Baxter's saloon gals while Harpo ("that redhead is a demon" quotes one of the floozies) in the next room searches for the stolen deed before dynamiting Baxter's safe. One scene worth noting having Groucho getting slickered by Baxter and tripped down a flight of stairs (as in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA), thus, making him the laughing stock of the town, actually takes away from his traditional character who used to make fools of the villains. Unlike their earlier MGM efforts, the romantic subplot, enacted by John Carroll and Diana Lewis, doesn't take too much time away from the brothers to make this 80 minute comedy drag.

    Aside from the Marx Brothers assisting a young couple in need, and showing the tender side of their nature by comforting Wilson's granddaughter after learning the outcome of her grandfather's deed, GO WEST might have misfired altogether had it not been for the aforementioned opening and closing segments. What a shame that the not-so-memorable moments prevented GO WEST from becoming the greatest western satire of all time.

    Distributed on video cassette in the late 1980s by Turner Home Entertainment, GO WEST, currently available on DVD, can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, so saddle up partners and have a rootin- tootin' time with those three dudes, the Marx Brothers.(***)
  • GO WEST (1940) ***/****

    I don't know. Since I've been watching these later Paramount Marx Bros. films before seeing the original early 30s classics that die-hard fans always rave about, perhaps I'm more unbiased and capable of enjoying them for what they are.

    In GO WEST we have the opening sequence where Groucho tries to fleece Chico and Harpo, only to get a good screwing himself in the bargain. I also enjoyed the bit where Groucho and Chico attempt to woo a couple of gals as Harpo attempts to steal a deed from a safe in the next room. There were some very funny slapstick moments for the climactic struggle aboard the train to cap things off.

    At first I was leery of going into a Marx Bros. comedy where the trio might be dressed in cowboy garb and thrust back into the unusual setting of the Old West, but it came off considerably well for what it was. Of course, nothing's perfect and you have to put up with some annoying singing now and then. Especially from one lady in particular who sounds like a guy.
  • I hardly ever think about Room Service, I've never liked it and never bothered to tape or buy it. I've never taped Go West either, but probably only because TCM UK must have shown it once a week for the past 10 years I figured I didn't have to. What this has meant however is that I've bumped into it a lot of times by accident, and I must admit it's really beginning to grow on me. It was a weaker effort from the team, but when I'm in the right mood it can still make me laugh like a drain.

    It also helps liking Golden Age Westerns, from Gene Autry to John Ford including spoofs such as this. John Carroll's leisurely and romantic moonlit song "Ridin' the Range" for me sums up a lot of what Hollywood must have meant to a lot of people back then and to me now. Groucho has loads of great quips and put-downs, to those who've seen it my particular favourite being the above title, delivered by him round-eyed and laconically.

    So by now I think well worth including this one in the Marxes canon of classics, and a very pleasant way of spending yet another 80 minutes with TCM UK on!
  • Sometimes Movie Buffs, like All Fanatics, can't Help Themselves. Approaching this Late Entry in the Cannon of Marx Brothers Movies They Shoot it Full of Holes and Wax Ridiculously About Paramount This and MGM That. This is a Consistently Funny Film, Standing On its Own in the Genre of the Most Subjective, Comedy.

    It is a Wildly Underrated Film that is Amusing and Hilarious from the Get Go. Full of Puns, One Liners, Sight Gags, Slapstick, and a Sophistication that Most Screen Comedies Lack. The Tunes are Bouncy and the Boys Talents are Again on Display.

    For Comparison, Screen this Along Side Any Abbott and Costello or Martin and Lewis Movie and even though it is a Lesser Entry in the Genealogy of Marx Brothers Movies, it will Decidedly Hold its Own Against the Best of the Aforementioned.

    Consistently Funny, Never Dull, with a String of Outrageous Outdoor Antics, this is Entertainment Extraordinaire and One could Argue it is Certainly Not the Peak of the Teams Art, it can Nevertheless be Considered as a Successful Performance from All Involved.

    Give this One a Go and Discover Gold in Them There Films that are So Easily Dismissed by the Gadfly's and be Amazed at the Talent and Slick Timing, the Wide Appeal and Timeless Humor that was the Marx Brothers. They were Never Less than Above Average. Their Stuff that was Considered Dismissible or Mediocre is Only So when Compared to Their Own High Standards.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sadly, when Groucho delivers the line there's a glint in his eye that suggests he believes it. Go West is probably the best AND worst of the final three MGM films, a movie that manages to contain both mild hilarity and extended dull patches.

    When Irving Thalberg brought the Marx Brothers over to MGM, the retooling of their characters was notable, but not detrimental. Although suddenly they change from pure forces of nature into more helpful characters with stricter narratives and romantic subplots, A Night At The Opera is still one of their finest films; the follow up was also worthwhile. Sadly, Thalberg's death saw this tenuous formula erode still further and their star treatment at MGM slide.

    Very few people suggest that their post-Day At The Races movies are up there with the rest of their work, and At The Circus, Go West and The Big Store are certainly far, far poorer movies than their work from 1929-1937. However, these are only bad Marx Brothers movies by comparison: taken as movies in their own right, they're still average, passable fare, and often brim with invention, even if only in spots. In fact, if you joined up all the funny scenes in the three movies you'd be able to get 90 minutes worth of good material out of it. The only problem is, all three films together last for 240.

    Go West has plenty of strong material: there's the amusing "money changing" scene at the start, some funny interplay with Groucho and a wild west bar clientèle and some overtly adult gags, such as Chico's line "She looks like she knows plenty, but not about the deed!" Then there's Groucho's explicit "I'm not in business for love, you know. I was in love once, and I got the business. But that's another story, and a very unpleasant one, too."

    However, there's also those dead patches. The scenes with "Red Indians" appal not because of how politically incorrect they may seem in 2012, but because they're just excruciatingly unfunny. There's also a role for the gifted Arthur Housman, though he doesn't get a single line. (That said, considering Housman showed the ability to steal away movies from Laurel and Hardy, maybe they were best only giving him reactions to a below-par Groucho). Even the enchanting/impressive/tiresomely formulaic musical numbers have an uninspired feel about them, with Chico's segue line of "I'ma so happy I'd like to play the piano!" supremely lazy on behalf of the scriptwriter.

    The final climactic chase may be less tedious than other similar endings in Circus and Big Store, but you're never for a minute convinced that you're watching the actual Marx Brothers, only their stunt men. Okay, all three brothers were in their fifties by the time it was released, and Groucho's hairpiece is only too obvious, but for escapades on a runaway train it compares unfavourably with the daredevil work of Buster Keaton. Sadly, Keaton himself was down on his luck and forced to work for low pay as an unscripted gag man on this movie. Fifteen years earlier Keaton had written his own "Go West"... and also directed and starred in it.

    In all, while a better film than its reputation, Go West can perhaps be best summed up in the words of Groucho himself: "the boys at the studio have lined up another turkey for us and there's a strong likelihood that we'll be shooting in about three or four weeks. I'm not looking forward to it but I guess it's just as well to get it over with." If you care, I take up the story of the Marx Brothers' comeback in a review of Love Happy...
  • GiraffeDoor3 November 2020
    I love the Marx Brothers and all but this isn't their finest hour.

    It's not a hateable movie or anything but it's not hilarious or a classic or anything. It begins and ends well but in the meantime it's just a bit of fun to put on in the background.

    Don't skip it but don't save yourself for it.
  • "Go West" isn't the best Marx Brothers film, but it has some wonderful moments, including the train sequence in the finale.

    This is one of their MGM films, and while most people prefer their Paramount days, I like the MGM movies better. They have more structure and so do the gags.

    S. Quentin Quale (who else, Grouch) is on his way west, and on route he meets Joseph and Rusty Panello. They're on their way west to find gold. The brothers and Groucho all work hard at ripping one another off; the brothers win. This is one of those bits that could have been done in any Marx Brothers film under any circumstance.

    Once they reach their destination, they meet a miner, Dan Wilson. His property has no gold, so they give him $10, all the money they have, so he can start a new life. He gives them the deed to his mine as collateral.

    What he doesn't is that the son of his rival, Terry Turner (John Carroll), who is in love with his daughter Eva (Diana Lewis), is arranging for the railroad to build through his land. This will make Dan rich and hopefully pave the way for Terry and Eva. But Red, the saloon owner, gets the deed away from the brothers. Now they and Groucho have to get that deed back and help Dan, Terry, and Eva.

    This is a spoof of the western genre, with a singing saloon girl with an incredibly deep voice (June MacCloy). What I loved was Groucho's singing background in the big ballad, "Ridin' the Range." It was both funny and kind of sweet at the same time.

    Both Harpo and Chico have excellent musical numbers. Overall, enjoyable, if not my favorite, A Night at the Opera. The ingénue, Diana Lewis, quit acting shortly after this film to devote herself to her marriage to William Powell, which lasted until his death 44 years later.
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