Horse Feathers

  • Directors: Norman Z McLeod
  • Producers: Herman J Mankiewicz
  • Writers: S J Perelman, Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Will B Johnstone
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance, Sport
  • Actors: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd, Reginald Barlow

The film revolves around, among other things, college football and a game between the fictional Darwin and Huxley Colleges. (Thomas Henry Huxley was a defender of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.) Many of the jokes about the amateur status of collegiate football players and how eligibility rules are stretched by collegiate athletic departments remain remarkably current. [2]

Groucho plays Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College, and Zeppo is his son Frank, who convinces his father to recruit professional football players to boost the Huxley team’s chance of winning. There are also many references to Prohibition. Baravelli (Chico) is an “iceman”, who delivers ice and bootleg liquor from a local speakeasy. Pinky (Harpo, wearing his usual pink-colored “fright wig”) is also an “iceman”, as well as a part-time dogcatcher. Through a series of misunderstandings, Baravelli and Pinky are recruited to play on Huxley’s football team; this requires them to enroll as students at Huxley, which, of course, results in nothing but comic chaos throughout the school.

The climax of the movie, often referenced as one of the greatest football-related scenes in movie history [3], includes the four protagonists winning the football game by taking the ball into the end zone in a horse-drawn garbage wagon that resembles a chariot and which Pinky rides as such.

A picture of the brothers in the “chariot” at the end of the film made the cover of TIME in 1932.[4]

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