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The Big Store (1941)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Musical | 20 June 1941 (USA)
A detective is hired to protect the life of a singer, who has recently inherited a department store, from the store's crooked manager.

Director:

Charles Reisner (as Charles Riesner)

Writers:

Sid Kuller (screen play), Hal Fimberg (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Groucho Marx ... Wolf J. Flywheel
Chico Marx ... Ravelli
Harpo Marx ... Wacky
Tony Martin ... Tommy Rogers
Virginia Grey ... Joan Sutton
Margaret Dumont ... Martha Phelps
Douglass Dumbrille ... Mr. Grover
William Tannen ... Fred Sutton
Marion Martin ... Peggy Arden
Virginia O'Brien ... Kitty
Henry Armetta ... Guiseppi
Anna Demetrio ... Maria
Paul Stanton ... George Hastings
Russell Hicks ... Arthur Hastings
Bradley Page ... Duke
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Storyline

The Phelps Department Store is about to be sold by its new part owner, Tommy Rogers with the permission of Martha Phelps, the dowager co-owner. The current manager doesn't want this as the irregularities in the books will show up. When an attempt is made on Tommy's life, Martha enlists the worst private eye in the world to protect him, Wolf J. Flywheel. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Gorgeous Girls! Uproarious Fun! The Big Musical Show! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

20 June 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bargain Basement See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Flywheel's car is a 1914 Renault 40 CV. See more »

Goofs

When the clerk (Enid Bennett) calls to check on fabric, she is standing about a foot away from the counter. When the camera angle changes, her arm is resting on the counter. See more »

Quotes

Martha Phelps: Whew! It's warm in here.
Wolf J. Flywheel: Funny, I don't feel it.
Martha Phelps: Well, I do.
Wolf J. Flywheel: [Speaking on an "intercom"] Winthop, have the janitor come up and break a window.
See more »

Connections

Remake of The Longest Night (1936) See more »

Soundtracks

Sing Before Breakfast
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Played in the background while Harpo cooks
See more »

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User Reviews

 
middling Marx is still pretty good
10 June 2004 | by dr_foremanSee all my reviews

Halfway through "The Big Store," my Dad turned to me and remarked, "This is an uneven movie - some parts are great, some are terrible, some are boring and some are a scandal." I couldn't put it better myself (and so I didn't try!).

The scandalous parts are, of course, the scenes involving broad stereotypes.

The Marx Brothers always walk a pretty fine line on the right side of good taste, as much of their humor involves insulting women and authority figures. But that's their schtick, and it's usually pretty harmless (not to mention hilarious). It's only when they go after ethnic groups that they lose me. And yet, I always laugh during the "bed scene" in this movie, so maybe they don't really lose me; I hate to say it, but stereotyping IS often funny. But it's an uncomfortable kind of funny.

It's a shame because the Brothers clearly aren't playing to their strengths in this movie. The final chase scene is good fun, but not really their "thing" (somehow, the slapstick seemed better thought out in "A Night at the Opera"). Still, they shine in several scenes, most notably when Groucho first meets Grover and proceeds to insult him while simultaneously wooing Margaret Dumont with Romantic poetry. I also like Harpo's fantasy segment, one of the more imaginative musical numbers from the latter-day movies. I don't even mind the obligatory Handsome Young Man character as he's got a good rapport with Groucho, but his bizarro Tenement Symphony (which is mercifully excised from most TV versions) really needs to go.

I sound like I hate this movie, but I really don't. Though it's clearly a big step down from the best of Marx, The Big Store is still intermittently hilarious, and even at its worst, it's diverting. Lesser comedians would kill to be as good as the Marx Brothers on a mediocre day.


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