Reel Classics

A Night in Casablanca (1946) - Blu-ray Review

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A Night in Casablanca (1946)

The Marx Brothers are coming! The Marx Brothers are coming! 

Well, after a bit of exposition that is as Casablanca (and others like that film) get a big kiss-off thanks to the parody on display throughout the 86-minutes that make up A Night in Casablanca.  This REEL CLASSIC might not be the go-to movie for the usual Marx Brothers gags and routines, but it is hilarious nonetheless when the dust settles and the boys get a chance to stop an escaped Nazi war criminal.

"Nothing is sacred when the Marx Brothers come to play and we are all the better for it"


Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman) has been killing managers of the Hotel Casablanca.  He wants the Nazi treasure hidden somewhere in the hotel.  But Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx), with no idea that he’s been hired because no one else will take the position, now stands in his way.  To seduce him, Stubel sends Beatrice Reiner (Lisette Verea) his way, yet it isn’t enough to prevent Corbaccio (Chico Marx) and his valet Rusty (Harpo Marx) from declaring themselves Kornblow’s bodyguards.  

With crackling innuendos and non sequiturs aplenty, ALL the boys give as good as they get . . . ONCE such hassles as exposition and the dull femme fatale are set into place.  It’s funny because, to me, it’s as if everyone - including director Archie Mayo (Night After Night, The Petrified Forest) - are simply in the way onto landing the next joke.  A Night in Casablanca (1946)

And, truly, who can blame them?  They steal the dialogue away from everyone else on the screen and, as there are some great musical moments from Chico’s piano and Harpo, magnificently playing Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 on the harp, on the stage.  Nothing is sacred when the Marx Brothers come to play and we are all the better for it.

So, yes, there is some pretty lifeless direction and some bland characters  mixing it up in this madcap spoof of some of Warner Bros best films.  It’s not a surprise to learn then that the Warner Brothers of yore once sharpened their arrows and aimed them all at the Marx Brothers’ backsides when this comedy classic was originally announced.  Their problem of course was the use of Casablanca in the title, of course.  Groucho Marx’s responses to them are a bit of trivia history now, but - lo! - the joke is on us all nowadays as Warner Bros now owns the rights to the  distribution of this film.

Also starring Charles Drake, Lois Collier, Dan Seymour, Paul Harvey, and Frederick Giermann, A Night in Casablanca is now on blu-ray thanks to ClassicFlix with a newly restored transfer of this classic film.

5/5 stars

A Night in Casablanca (1946)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: ClassicFlix
Available on Blu-ray
- December 29, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

After a five-year hiatus from the silver screen, the legendary Marx Brothers are in top form as they set out to bust up a Nazi spy ring in A Night in Casablanca.  Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx) is the new fill-in manager at the Hotel Casablanca—fill-in because the last three managers have met sudden and mysterious deaths. At the center of the intrigue is Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman), disguised as “Count Pfferman”, who’ll go to any length to gain control of the hotel, host to an array of hidden treasure smuggled out of France by the Nazis after the invasion.  Oblivious to the untimely demise of his predecessors, and infatuated with Nazi-vamp Beatrice (Lisette Verea), Kornblow is aided by Yellow Camel Company operator Corbaccio (Chico Marx) and hotel roustabout Rusty (Harpo Marx) who are on to Stubel’s plot to become the new hotel manager and make off with the loot.  With more one-liners, jokes and gags that you can shake a cigar at, A Night in Casablanca recaptures the Marxes at their zany best. Also featured are Charles Drake, Lois Collier and Dan Seymour.

Video:

Newly remastered, ClassicFlix brings the Marx Brothers to life in HD with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.36:1.   The images aren’t always the sharpest, but they work to create a better looking transfer than the old DVDs.  There is a new depth to the picture, even if it isn't the sharpest-looking remastering.  The shadows are deeper and stronger and so are the details in the print.  Black levels might not be consistent, but that's to be expected.

Audio:

There is a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono track present to handle the jokes and the music, which includes "Who's Sorry Now?" at the center of the film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

The disc begins rather abruptly with a trailer for another film, but soon settles into a familiar-looking menu screen for A Night in Casablanca.  What’s included for viewers are various radio commercials, a trailer, and - the best featurette - a look at the Marx Brothers testing the material out in front of a live audience prior to cameras rolling for A Night in Casablanca.

  • A Night in Casablanca Trailer
  • Audio excerpt of a rare, on stage performance of the Marx Brothers in August 1945 where they tested out material before a live audience prior to filming A Night in Casablanca (5:52)
  • Various radio commercials promoting A Night in Casablanca (4:25)
  • Image gallery featuring rare stills, posters, lobby cards and other promotional material

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

A Night in Casablanca (1946)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
85 mins
Director
: Archie Mayo
Writer:
Joseph Fields, Roland Kibbee
Cast:
Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx
Genre
: Comedy
Tagline:
The Marx Brothers spend...
Memorable Movie Quote: "After all, I'm a man and you're a woman... and I can't think of a better arrangement."
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 1946
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 29, 2020.
Synopsis: Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx) is the new fill-in manager at the Hotel Casablanca—fill-in because the last three managers have met sudden and mysterious deaths. At the center of the intrigue is Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman), disguised as "Count Pfferman", who'll go to any length to gain control of the hotel, host to an array of hidden treasure smuggled out of France by the Nazis after the invasion. Oblivious to the untimely demise of his predecessors, and infatuated with Nazi-vamp Beatrice (Lisette Verea), Kornblow is aided by Yellow Camel Company operator Corbaccio (Chico Marx) and hotel roustabout Rusty (Harpo Marx) who are on to Stubel's plot to become the new hotel manager and make off with the loot.

A Night in Casablanca (1946)

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