A Day at the Races

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Information icon4.svg This page needs visual enhancement.
You can help All The Tropes by finding a high-quality image or video to illustrate the topic of this page.

The next Marx Brothers film after A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races follows pretty closely in the same mould.

Judy Standish's Sanitarium is under threat of being taken over by unscrupulous businessman Morgan, who wants to demolish it and expand his real estate monopoly. The only hope for Judy is if she can keep the wealthy hypochondriac Mrs Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) as a permanent patient, who will only stay if the sanitarium hires her favourite physician, Dr Hugo Z. Hackenbush (Groucho Marx). Unfortunately for Mrs Upjohn, Hackenbush is actually a confidence-trickstering veterinarian, who has to avoid being caught out by either Morgan' cronies, the Florida Medical Board or Mrs Upjohn.

Meanwhile, Chico Marx and Harpo Marx play a sanitarium worker and a former jockey who have to save Hackenbush from a Femme Fatale employed by Morgan, while simultaneously trying to get the racehorse owned by the sanitarium owner's fiancée Gil into race-winning condition.

Tropes used in A Day at the Races include:

Mrs Upjohn: Why, I never knew a thing was wrong with me before I met him.

  • Jump the Shark: During production, Irving Thalberg died and thus the Brothers lost the support of the top level MGM studio executive who best understood their humor. It was all downhill from there for their film career.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Chico keeps pronouncing Groucho's character Hackenbush's name as "Hackannapuss".
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication: When Harpo tries to warn Chico about the frame job against Groucho. He gets it eventually.
  • One-Liner
  • Real Joke Name: Narrowly averted, Groucho Marx's character was going to be Doctor Quackenbush, but MGM's Legal department heard from an actual Dr. Quackenbush complaining, so the name was changed to Hackenbush.
  • Spiritual Successor: The basic plot is markedly similar to the previous Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera, except with horseracing instead of opera.
  • Values Dissonance: The whole sequence with the brothers pretending to be black is mighty uncomfortable today.