Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Edward Buzzell|
|Produced by||Jack Cummings|
|Written by||Irving Brecher|
Nat Perrin (uncredited)
|Music by||George Bassman|
|Edited by||Blanche Sewell|
Go West is a comedy-western film from 1940 released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, starring the Marx Bros. In their tenth film, Groucho, Harpo, and Chico head to the American West and attempt to unite a couple by ensuring that a stolen property deed is retrieved. The film was directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Irving Brecher, who receives the original screenplay credit.
Confidence man S. Quentin Quale (Groucho) is heading west to find his fortune, but is short ten dollars for a train ticket. In the railroad station, he encounters brothers Joseph (Chico) and Rusty Panello (Harpo) and attempts to swindle their money, but the two manage to swindle Quale's money. The Panellos are friends with an old miner named Dan Wilson (Tully Marshall) whose near worthless property, Dead Man's Gulch, has no gold. They loan him their last ten dollars for a grub stake and he gives them the deed to the Gulch as collateral. Unbeknownst to Wilson, the son of his longtime rival and beau to his granddaughter Eve Wilson (Diana Lewis), Terry Turner (John Carroll) has contacted the railway to arrange for them to build through the gulch, making the deed holder rich. After crooked railroad executive John Beecher (Walter Woolf King) and shady saloon owner "Red" Baxter (Robert Barrat) manage to steal the deed, Quale and the Panello brothers work with Terry and Eve to retrieve the deed.
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Like all other Marx Brothers MGM films, Go West has several musical numbers, including "As if I Didn't Know" and "You Can't Argue with Love" both by Bronislau Kaper and Gus Kahn, "Ridin' the Range" by Roger Edens and Gus Kahn, "From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water" by Charles Wakefield Cadman and "The Woodpecker Song" by Harold Adamson and Eldo di Lazzaro. (In this song, Chico, playing the piano, rolls an orange on the keys in sync with the melody.)
As with A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races, the Marxes played key comedy scenes from Go West live onstage on a pre-filming tour; this tour was much shorter than that for the first two films, lasting three weeks.
Go West Screenwriter Irving Brecher stood in for an ailing Groucho when publicity stills for the film were first taken. Brecher bore a remarkable resemblance to Groucho and is all but unrecognizable in the photos, sporting Groucho's glasses, greasepaint mustache and eyebrows.
Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times called the film "an unevenly paced show" with "only one really funny sequence," referring to the climax.Variety wrote, "The three Marx Bros. ride a merry trail of laughs and broad burlesque in a speedy adventure through the sagebrush country," adding that the film had "many fresh situations for the Marxian antics."Harrison's Reports wrote that it was "much better than their last two pictures" and that the final twenty minutes "should thrill as well as amuse spectators."Film Daily called it "wildly funny in places, amusing for the most part and dead in one or two spots that a little editing could improve."John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote, "Possibly not the most strenuous Marxian product that we have seen, the picture nevertheless is very satisfactory and quite lunatic enough."