Movie Review: GO WEST, 1940

GO WEST, 1940
Movie Reviews

Directed by Edward Buzzell
Starring: The Marx Brothers
Review by Steven Painter


The Marx Brothers come to the rescue in the Wild West when a young man, trying to settle an old family feud so he can marry the girl he loves, runs afoul of crooks.


After the Marx Brothers made A Day at the Races (1937), they would not make another movie that could be considered in the same class as their previous work. Although in 1940 the three brothers made Go West, which is about as good as it gets for their later work.

Go West is a Western ironically. It involves Chico and Harpo who want to go west to acquire a fortune, as the streets are supposed to be paved with gold there. The bad thing is they do not have any train fare to pay for the trip. In a scene that is straight out of the classic Marx Brothers movies, Chico and Harpo are able to swindle Groucho out of enough money to get a train ticket.

As it tends to happen in Marx Brothers movies, something goes wrong and the brothers are in the middle of it. This time Chico and Harpo end up receiving the deed to the land owned by Dan Wilson as security for a $10 loan. Wilson’s land happens to be pretty valuable. It is right where two railroad companies would like to join their railroads. The man who brought the idea to the railroad company heads stands to gain as well. He wants to marry Wilson’s granddaughter.

The brothers end up in the western town and go into a saloon, as they tend to do in Westerns. Chico and Harpo are broke now, but use the land dead to buy a 10 cent beer. The saloon keeper they give the deed to has plans on selling his own land to the railroad company. This all seems to be a complex plot for a Marx Brothers movie, but it all smoothes out later.

Groucho, who has hitchhiked out west after being swindled by his brothers, arrives at the saloon and finds out that the deed Chico and Harpo had is worth a lot of money. He and his brothers steal the deed. This does not last long however, as the matrons above the saloon distract the three boys, as girls tend to do in Marx Brothers movies. This scene is humorous, but not a memorable one in the scope of the Marx Brothers work. Anyway, the deed ends up being stolen back.

We then have a love story in the plot and the three Marx Brothers feel bad about not having the deed, which would mean the two lovebirds can’t get married. One of those lovebirds is Wilson’s granddaughter who does not want to marry the conniving man who brought the land to the railroads attention. So to remedy all this the Marx Brothers decide to steal the deed back and then race to New York to present it to the railroad companies before they can lose it again.

This works and the Marx Brothers end up on a train bound for New York. Here is where the plot is not very deep. The Marx Brothers have to outrace a group of bandits to New York and do so while keeping the deed. The train scenes are great and reminiscent of some of the great comedy movies that have implemented trains in them. That is to say, this is the Marx Brothers’ time to use the train for comedic purposes as every other comedian has seemed to do.

On the way to New York the train runs out of fuel. This is no problem however as the brothers begin taking apart the cars in order to keep the engine running. So by the end of things there is the train engine and the skeletons of the rest of the cars. Of course the movie has to have a happy ending, so the Marx Brothers run the evil doers off the tracks and the lovebirds can be married.

Go West is not the greatest Marx Brothers movie ever made. It probably would not have been worth mentioning had it been made during their Paramount period, but for the time in their career when this movie was made it is not that bad. There is enough here, especially at the beginning and on the train, that it is worth watching if you are a Marx Brothers fan or a fan of an amusing comedy.

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