Love Happy (1949) *


Supposedly the last Marx Brothers film, in reality it is something else: a Harpo film, based on his own story and conceived as an entirely solo experiment ("Harpo had an idea he wanted to be Chaplin," is how Groucho recalled the film's genesis), with a supporting role written in for Chico, and a guest spot for Groucho grafted in at the last minute (so as to deliberately bring about the false assumptions and resultant disappointments the film has laboured under the weight of ever since.)
True, all three are playing their usual roles, more or less, (though this is a less anarchic and more sentimental Harpo than usual, and Groucho has a real moustache and eyebrows), but their relationship to each other and the plot is altogether different, so that ultimately the film looks ahead to their joint involvement in The Story of Mankind as much as it does back to A Night in Casablanca. Nowhere here do they feel like a team.

Having said all that, the film is by no means difficult to sit through for audiences who know what they're getting. Programmed in rep seasons of Marx movies it always brings in a good sized crowd, a few indulgent laughs, and much discernible chatter on exiting about how they enjoyed it a lot more than they were expecting.
It's zippy and friendly, with some amusing business here and there for Harpo, a couple of good lines for Groucho, Leon Belasco joining Chico for a splendid performance of the piano and violin routine from his nightclub act, and a jolly chase at the end. And in between, musical numbers from Vera-Ellen and Marion Hutton that, while not to everyone's taste, are more solid than anything contributed by the supporting players of their last three MGM films.
Come expecting a grand finale for The Marx Brothers and disenchantment is guaranteed, approach it as the curiosity it is, however, and you should be contentedly diverted.