Total Film - 07/01/2000
"?...A DAY AT THE RACES contains its fair share of priceless routines..."
Description by OLDIES.com:
The Marxes skewer medicine and bring home a racetrack winner in the hilarious A Day at the Races. In his favorite role, Groucho is Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbust - MD, PhD, RFD, MC, PDQ, BYOB and none of the above - dispensing horse pills and quips with equal glee. Chico, Harpo and favorite foil Margaret Dumont join the fun of this thoroughly thoroughbred comedy. Enjoy tootsie-frootsie ice cream, Dumont's medical exam, Harpo's pretty-girl pantomime sketch, wallpaper wackiness and wall-to-wall hilarity the Marx way.
Maureen O'Sullivan plays Judy Standish, a woman whose sanitarium is about to be foreclosed upon. Standish begs for help from rich patient Emily Updike, played by the hysterically funny Maragaret Dumont. Updike agrees to save the sanitarium but demands that her favorite medical practitioner, Dr. Hugo Hackenbush (Groucho Marx), be placed in charge. Hackenbush is a horse doctor by trade. Thus begins another wacky, silly adventure with the kings of comedy, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx. Chico, a racing tipster, and Harpo, a jockey, find faith in Hackenbush when they discover that the good doctor is a fraud, so the trio sets off to defeat the nasty bankers who continue to scheme for the sanitarium, while also pushing forward the incipient love affair between Standish and struggling singer Gil Stewart (Allan Jones). Also included is the horse race for which the film is named, a carnival of bathing beauties, and some very odd musical numbers.
This hysterical outing turns the boys loose in a sanitarium. Groucho moves up in life from ministering to horses at the track to minding the hypochondriacal ills of patients such as those of the inimitable Ms. Dumont. The film is considered one of the Marx Brothers' best.
Irving Thalberg, the man responsible for bringing the Marx Brothers to MGM, died of pneumonia while supervising preproduction, which was extensive. Over two years, 18 scripts were written. As with A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, the final script was taken on the road as a traveling theater piece. Audience members were allowed to give written feedback on the performance.
The film was banned in Latvia under the assertion that it contained nothing of value.