Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Monkey Business (1931)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Monkey Business (1931)

In the Marx Brothers' third film - and their first film made in Hollywood (and their first film from an original screenplay):

  • the classic opening scene of the four stowaway brothers (as Themselves) harmonizing and singing "Sweet Adeline" in barrels located in the forward hatch of an Atlantic-crossing ocean liner - labeled Kippered Herring ("This is the only way to travel, boys. The only way"), but a crew member had earlier reported: ("Sorry to have to report there are four stowaways in the forward hatch....They were singing Sweet Adeline")
  • the scene of Groucho's impersonation of the ship's Captain Corcoran (Ben Taggart), and phoning for lunch (and dinner): ("Hello. Send up the captain's lunch... Send up his dinner, too. Who am I? I'm the captain. You want to choose up sides? Oh, engineer, will you tell them to stop the boat from rocking? I'm gonna have lunch") because he hadn't eaten in three days (although they had only been on the boat for two days): ("I didn't eat yesterday. I didn't eat today, and I won't eat tomorrow. That makes three days")
  • Harpo's pretense of being a puppet and delighting an audience of children during a Punch and Judy show
  • the very funny barbershop scene when Chico and Harpo impersonated the barber and shaved off ('snoop off') the entire long handlebar mustache of one of the ocean liner's crew members, who requested: "Give me a once-over": (Chico: "We take care of you, all right. We take the tonsils last. I think we work on the mustache first. Give him a little snoop. This side's too long. Give him a little snoop this side. Now this side is too short. It's too short. The other side is too long. Snoop him up. That's better, but the side that was too short now is too long and the side that was too long is too short. I think you got to give him one more snoop. I think we better measure. It's about a foot too much. No, the measure's a foot too much. Now it looks much better. It can stand one more snoop in the middle, I think. In the middle, one snoop. That's fine. That's very good. I think it's a little bit rough right here. I fix that....One more snoop. That's beautiful, eh? That's what you call a work of art. Hey, you know, I think you give him one snoop too much")
Barbershop Scene
  • the most famous scene after the ocean liner docked in New York City - of all the Marx Brothers unconvincingly impersonating (dressing with a straw-hat) and all using the stolen passport (by Zeppo) of well-known French actor/singer Maurice Chevalier when leaving the luxury ship and trying to evade customs, almost successfully accomplished by Harpo with a Victrola on his back playing Chevalier's hit You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
  • Groucho's tango with bootlegging gangster "Alky" Briggs' (Harry Woods) wife Lucille Briggs (Thelma Todd) (on board the ship in her stateroom) when he offered to polish her frame and oil her joints: ("Well, we can clean and tighten your brakes, polish your frame and oil your joints, but you'll have to stay in the garage all night")
  • and later, his attempted flirtatious romancing of her: ("Oh, I've dreamed of a night like this, I tell you. Now, you tell me about some of your dreams....Oh, why can't we break away from all this, just you and I, and lodge with my fleas in the hills? I mean, flee to my lodge in the hills"); when she replied: "Oh, no, I couldn't think of it," he tried to persuade her further: ("Don't be afraid. You can join this lodge for a few pennies. And you won't even have to take a physical examination - unless you insist on one"); he was encouraged when she told him that she didn't trust her husband: ("What a swell home life I've got. Why, I think I'd almost marry you to spite that double-crossing crook"); the scene was topped by Groucho's offer: ("Mrs. Briggs. I've known and respected your husband Alky for many years, and what's good enough for him is good enough for me")

Four Stowaway Brothers

Groucho Impersonating the Ship's Captain

Harpo in Puppet Show

Impersonating Maurice Chevalier

Groucho's Tango with Lucille

Further Romantic Flirtations with Lucille


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