Room Service (1938) starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Frank Albertson, Cliff Dunstan, Donald MacBride directed by William A. Seiter Movie Review

Room Service (1938)   3/53/53/53/53/5

The Marx Brothers in Room Service (1938)

Room for Improvement

Despite having seen clips from various Marx Brothers movies over the years I had never watched a whole movie till now when I watched "Room Service". Now there are those who know their Marx Brothers movies that will say "Room Service" is the worst of The Marx Brothers movies and it is worth knowing that it is their only movie which was not written especially for them. But whilst I don't think "Room Service" was great and suffers because of its stage play limitation having been adapted from a play it is not terrible, in fact there are enough funny moments to make it worth watching at least once.

Gordon Miller (Groucho) and his team Harry Binelli (Chico) and Faker Englund (Harpo) have a play to put on except they have no money and are about to be thrown out of their hotel room. When their friend Christine (Lucille Ball) says she has found them a backer they must find one way or another to extend their stay in the hotel till they get to meet him leading them to rope in writer Leo Davis into their shenanigans including fake illness and sweet talking a member of staff to sneak them room service.

Ann Miller and Frank Albertson in Room Service (1938)

So as already mentioned "Room Service" is the first Marx Brothers movie which I have watched from start to finish and so I can't tell you how it compares to their other better known movies. What I can say is that "Room Service" is sporadically funny with plenty of memorably fun gags from chasing a turkey around the room to Groucho firing out zingers all the time. But it is only sporadically funny because it suffers from its limitations thanks to it being adapted from a screenplay and with 95% of the movie taking place in one room it becomes monotonous. It's because everything happens in one space that it feels like it is lacking in variety despite having a variety of gags.

And that is about it because whilst they end up occasionally feeling repetitive Groucho, Chico and Harpo are still a lot of fun be it Groucho firing out zinger after zinger or Harpo faking a cough by squeezing a toy doll. Rather sad is the fact that two future great comedians Lucille Ball and Ann Miller end up with little to do although when you consider that Miller was only 15 when this was releases, having lied about her age, it is still a good performance from her.

What this all boils down to is that "Room Service" may be the worst Marx Brothers movie but that doesn't mean it is a bad movie. Whilst the limited location makes it feel monotonous there are enough funny jokes in there to make it worth a watch.