Go West (1940 film)

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Go West
Go West.jpg
Theatrical release poster.
Directed by Edward Buzzell
Produced by Jack Cummings
Written by Irving Brecher
Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Starring Groucho Marx
Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
John Carroll
Diana Lewis
Music by George Bassman
Georgie Stoll
(music direction)
Cinematography Leonard Smith
Edited by Blanche Sewell
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • December 6, 1940 (1940-12-06)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Go West (a.k.a. The Marx Brothers Go West) is the 10th Marx Brothers comedy film, in which brothers Groucho, Chico, and Harpo head to the American West and attempt to unite a couple by ensuring that an evil railroad baron is thwarted. It was directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Irving Brecher, who receives the original screenplay credit.


Confidence man S. Quentin Quale (Groucho) heads west to find his fortune. In the train station, he encounters crafty brothers Joseph (Chico) and Rusty Panello (Harpo) who manage to swindle his money. The Panello's are friends with an old miner named Dan Wilson (Tully Marshall) whose property, Dead Man's Gulch, has no gold. They loan him their last ten dollars for a grub stake and he gives them the deed to the Gulch as collateral. Unbeknownst to Wilson, the son of his longtime rival and beau to his granddaughter Eve Wilson (Diana Lewis), Terry Turner (John Carroll) has contacted the railway to arrange for them to build through the land, making the deed holder rich.



Like other Marx Brothers films, Go West has several musical numbers, including "As if I Didn't Know" and "You Can't Argue with Love" both by Bronislau Kaper and Gus Kahn, "Ridin' the Range" by Roger Edens and Gus Kahn, "From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water" by Charles Wakefield Cadman and "The Woodpecker Song" by Harold Adamson and Eldo di Lazzaro. (In this song, Chico, playing the piano, rolls an orange on the keys in sync with the melody.)

Groucho was aged 49 during the filming of Go West, and his hairline had begun receding. As such, he took to wearing a toupee throughout the film, as he did the previous film, At the Circus.

Go West Screenwriter Irving Brecher impersonated an ailing Groucho when publicity stills for the film were first taken. Brecher bore a remarkable resemblance to Groucho and is all but unrecognizable in the photos, sporting Groucho's glasses, greasepaint mustache and eyebrows.

Musical numbers[edit]


Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times called the film "an unevenly paced show" with "only one really funny sequence," referring to the climax.[1] Variety wrote, "The three Marx Bros. ride a merry trail of laughs and broad burlesque in a speedy adventure through the sagebrush country," adding that the film had "many fresh situations for the Marxian antics."[2] Harrison's Reports wrote that it was "much better than their last two pictures" and that the final twenty minutes "should thrill as well as amuse spectators."[3] Film Daily called it "wildly funny in places, amusing for the most part and dead in one or two spots that a little editing could improve."[4] John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote, "Possibly not the most strenuous Marxian product that we have seen, the picture nevertheless is very satisfactory and quite lunatic enough."[5]


  1. ^ The New York Times Film Reviews, Volume 3: 1939-1948. New York: The New York Times & Arno Press. 1970. p. 1772. 
  2. ^ "Film Reviews". Variety (New York: Variety, Inc.): p. 16. December 18, 1940. 
  3. ^ "Go West". Harrison's Reports (New York: Harrison's Reports, Inc.): p. 202. December 21, 1940. 
  4. ^ "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily (New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.): p. 5. December 11, 1940. 
  5. ^ Mosher, John (February 22, 1941). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker (New York: F-R Publishing Corp.): p. 74. 

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