Marx Brothers Movies

The Marx Brothers in 1935's Duck Soup.

The Marx Brothers in 1935’s Duck Soup.

Want to know the best Marx Brothers movies?  How about the worst Marx Brothers movies?  Curious about Marx Brothers box office grosses or which Marx Brothers movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which Marx Brothers movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst reviews? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in motion pictures from 1905 to 1949. 5 of the Marx Brothers’ 13 feature films were selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) as among the top 100 comedy films. Their movies Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera are both in the AFI’s top 12 comedy movies.   One of our goals here at Ultimate Movie Rankings is do a career movie page on every member of the American Film Institute’s Top 50 Greatest Screen Legends list.  Marx Brothers are ranked as the 20th greatest screen legends on that list.

This page ranks 14 movies in which at least 3 Marx brothers appeared in as well as 4 Groucho Marx movies.  The movies are ranked from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information. Following the movie ranking table is a “Know your Marx brother” section as well as links to the our AFI Screen Legend movie pages.

The Marx Brothers in 1938's Room Service.

The Marx Brothers in 1938’s Room Service.

Marx Brothers Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort Marx Brothers movies by which Marx Brother starred in the movie
  • Sort Marx Brothers movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Marx Brothers by yearly domestic box office rank
  • Sort Marx Brothers movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations each Marx Brothers movie received and how many Oscar® wins each Marx Brothers movie won.
  • Sort Marx Brothers movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above Marx Brothers Table

  1. Seven Marx Brothers movies crossed the magical $100 million domestic gross mark.  That is a percentage of 41.11% of their movies listed. A Day At The Races (1937) was their biggest box office ht when looking at adjusted domestic box office gross.
  2. An average Marx Brothers movie grosses $83.70 million in adjusted box office gross.
  3. Using’s 60% fresh meter.  13 of Marx Brothers’ movies are rated as good movies…or 72.22% of their movies. A Night At The Opera (1935) is their highest rated movie while The Story of Mankind (1957) was their lowest rated movie.
  4. One Marx Brothers movie (A Day At The Races) received at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…..or 5.55% of their movies.
  5. Zero Marx Brothers movie won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 0.00% of their movies.
  6. An average Ultimate Movie Ranking  (UMR) Score is 40.00.  12 Marx Brothers movies scored higher than that average….or 66.66% of their movies. A Day At The Races (1937) got the the highest UMR Score while The Story of Mankind (1957) got the lowest UMR Score.
Zeppo, Groucho, Harp and Chico Marx in 1932's Horse Feathers

Zeppo, Groucho, Harp and Chico Marx in 1932’s Horse Feathers

Know Your Marx Brother

Chico Marx 1887-1961

Chico Marx 1887-1961

Chico Marx was born Leonard Marx.  Originally his nickname was Chick-O but due to a typing error he became Chico. Chico was actually the 2nd Marx brother to be born.  His older brother (Manfred) died in infancy.  His persona in the act was that of a charming, dim-witted albeit crafty con artist.  After their mother passed away, Chico became the manager of the brothers. He played an important role in the management and development of the act.  He was married two times and had one child.   Chico loved to gamble. His favorite gambling pursuits were card games as well as horse racing, dog racing, and various sports betting. His addiction cost him millions of dollars by his own account. When an interviewer in the late 1930s asked him how much money he had lost from gambling, he answered, “Find out how much money Harpo’s got. That’s how much I’ve lost.”

Harpo Marx 1888-1964

Harpo Marx 1888-1964

Harpo Marx was born Arthur Marx.  He was a mime artist and musician, and the second-oldest of the Marx Brothers. His comic style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions. He wore a curly reddish blonde wig, and never spoke during performances (he blew a horn or whistled to communicate). He frequently used props such as a horn cane, made up of a lead pipe, tape, and a bulbhorn, and he played the harp in most of his films.  So why did Harpo never speak?  Early in his vaudeville days he got a bad review.  The review said his pantomime was excellent…but when he talked he ruined the performance.  So he decided to stop speaking….and the Marx Brothers quickly realized that his not speaking worked very well in their act.  He was married one time and had 4 children.

Groucho Marx 1890-1977

Groucho Marx 1890-1977

Groucho Marx was born Julius Henry Marx. He was known as a master of quick wit. His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers and imitators.  His distinctive appearance, carried over from his days in vaudeville, included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, glasses, cigar, and a thick greasepaint mustache and eyebrows. He also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show You Bet Your LifeThe Marx Brothers’ movies did not get much Oscar® love (their movies combined for only ONE nomination) ….but they did give Groucho an Honorary Oscar® in 1974.  His Oscar® reads…. “In recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequaled achievements of the Marx Brothers in the art of motion picture comedy”.  He was married three times and had three children.

Zeppo Marx 1901-1979

Zeppo Marx 1901-1979

Zeppo Marx was born Herbert Marx.  He was the youngest of The Marx Brothers, Zeppo was put into the role of the straight man after his brother Gummo (the other brother) left the act. Zeppo also acted as an understudy to all three of his brothers.  After playing small parts in the first five Marx Brothers movies, Zeppo felt his talent wasn’t being used to its full extent and left the act to join Gummo as an agent. Somewhat of a mechanical whiz, Zeppo invented a wristwatch that would monitor the pulse rate of cardiac patients, and his company, Marman Products, produced clamping devices which were used in the first atomic bomb raids over Japan in 1945. Zeppo was married twice and had one child.  Gummo Marx (1892-1977) was the 4th brother.  He left the Marx Brothers just when they were reaching popularity because he felt he lacked the performing skills of his brothers.  He became a well respected agent.

More Marx Brothers Movie Stats

  • A Day At The Races….Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $298.80 million
  • A Night At The Opera….Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $182.80 million
  • Go West……Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $121.10 million
  • At The Circus….Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $102.70 million
  • The Big Store….Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $127.60 million
  • Room Service….Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $109.10 million
  • The Story of Mankind…Worldwide Adjusted Box Office $17.50 million

Marx Brothers Financials Directly From MGM/RKO Ledgers 1935-1941

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Column 1 is the name of the movie
  • Column 2 is the name of the studio
  • Column 3 is the domestic rental total
  • Column 4 is the international rental total
  • Column 5 is the total of domestic and international rentals
  • Column 6 is the profit or loss in dollars of the movie
  • Coulmn 7 is the profit margin %
RankMovie (Year)StudioBudgetDomestic RentalsWorldwide RentalsTotal RentalsProfitProfit %
A Night At The Opera (1935)MGM$1,057,000$1,164 000$651,000$1,815,000$90,0009.00%
A Day At The Races (1937)MGM$2,016,000$1602000$703,000$2,305,000$-543,000-27.00%
Room Service (1938)RKO$884,000$665,000$210,000$875,000$-330,000-37.00%
At The Circus (1939)MGM$1,359,000$853,000$480,000$1,333,000$-492,000-36.00%
Go West (1940)MGM$1,168,000$896,000$514,000$1,410,000$-206,000-18.00%
The Big Store (1941)MGM$850,000$789,000$525,000$1,314,000$33,0004.00%

Check out the Marx Brothers career compared to current and classic actors.  Most 100 Million Dollar Movies of All-Time.   Another outstanding Marx Brothers tribute page to check out is Steve Lensman’s The Marx Brothers- On The Screen.  That page has posters and classic quotes from their movies.

AFI’s Top 25 Screen Legend Actors….with links to our movie pages on the Screen Legend

1.   Humphrey Bogart  58 Movies Ranked….from Casablanca (1942) to Swing Your Lady (1938)
2.   Cary Grant 58 Movies Ranked… from North by Northwest (1959) to Born To Be Bad (1934)
3.   James Stewart 73 Movies Ranked Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939) to Big Sleep(1978)
4.   Marlon Brando 37 Movies Ranked….from The Godfather (1972) to Christopher Columbus (1992)
5.   Fred Astaire 39 Movies Ranked The Towering Inferno (1974) to The Amazing Dobermans (1976)
6.   Henry Fonda 81 Movies Ranked… On Golden Pond (1981) to City on Fire (1979)
7.   Clark Gable 63 Movies Ranked….from Gone With The Wind (1939) to Parnell (1937)
8.   James Cagney 61 Movies Ranked….from Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) to Boy Meets Girl (1938)
9.   Spencer Tracy 53 Movies Ranked….from Boy’s Town (1938) to Up the River (1930)
10. Charles Chaplin 12 Movies Ranked….from The Kid (1921) to A Countess from Hong Kong (1967)
11. Gary Cooper 67 Movies Ranked….from Sergeant York (1941) to Fighting Caravans (1931)
12. Gregory Peck 53 Movies Ranked To Kill a Mockingbird(1962) to Amazing Grace & Chuck(1987)
13. John Wayne 83 Movies Ranked….from True Grit (1969) to Brannigan (1975)
14. Laurence Olivier 48 Movies Ranked….from Rebecca (1940) to Inchon (1982)
15. Gene Kelly 40 Movies Ranked….from Anchors Aweigh (1945) to Viva Knievel! (1977)
16. Orson Welles 75 Movies Ranked….from Citizen Kane (1941) to Treasure Island (1972)
17. Kirk Douglas 71 Movies Ranked….from Spartacus (1960) to Diamonds (1999)
18. James Dean 3 Movies Ranked….from East of Eden (1955) to Giant (1956)
19. Burt Lancaster 67 Movies Ranked From Here to Eternity (1953) to Executive Action (1973)
20. Marx Brothers 18 Movies Ranked….from Horse Feathers (1932) to The Story of Mankind (1957)
21. Buster Keaton 28 Movies Ranked….from The Cameraman (1928) to The Intruder (1936)
22. Sidney Poitier 46 Movies Ranked….from In the Heat of the Night (1967) to Fast Forward (1985)
23. Robert Mitchum 83 Movies Ranked….from The Longest Day (1962) to Matilda (1978)
24. Edward G. Robinson 67 Movies Ranked 10 Commandments(1956) to BiggestBundleofAll(1968)
25. William Holden 66 Movies Ranked….from The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) to Ashanti (1979)

For comments….all you need is a name and a comment….please ignore the rest.

Academy Award® and Oscar® are the registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences.

[hits] Page Views

For comments….all you need is a name and a comment….please ignore the rest.

1,256 total views, 0 views today

(Visited 26,263 times)

40 thoughts on “Marx Brothers Movies

  1. 1 HI STEVE The Marx Bros have long been favourites of mine so I was unsuccessfully browsing through your video catalogue to see if I could find an offering on them and therefore if you have one hidden away somewhere I’d appreciate a link for it.

    2 Bruce’s Marx page has an interesting table showing actual profit and loss figures for 6 of their movies and surprisingly whilst 2 of the films made a profit the other 4 incurred such massive losses that they wiped out the profits from the 2 hits. According to the Consumer Price Index of the US Bureau of Labor Stats the figures that Bruce has provided compute to an overall loss of $24.58 million in today’s dollars for the 6 movies

    3 Bruce’s table which covers a few of the Brothers’ biggest audience hits therefore suggests that they were not really big box office in their day and certainly indicate that AFI when compiling its 50 Screen Legends lists didn’t take too much account of box office performance as the Brothers are of course included whilst Hope and Crosby, and my gals Doris and Deanna, whose movies earned fortunes are ignored. Legend even has it that Deanna’s flicks were another run of those that “saved the studio from bankruptcy”.

    4 There is though nothing new in a run of hits for a star being wholly or partially negated by flops. For example another of my idols Glenn Ford [the Spanish/Scottish/Canadian actor via multiple reincarnations – I wonder who he is today?] made 14 movies under his MGM contract from 1955 – 1962 and whilst 11 of them were profitable the other 3 were a financial disaster for MGM. The relative figures are in 2017 adjusted grosses as per the Bureau of Labor Stats: profit on 11 movies $110 million, loss on the other 3 flicks $77 million resulting in an overall profit of just $33 million in today’s money for the entire 14. I still dote on Glenn though.


    1. Hi Bob, there is a video on the Marx Bros I did about 9 months ago and your comment is on the next page. 🙂 I can’t post a link but if you go to the home page of my video channel just under the main banner there is what looks like a magnifying glass, if you click on that and type in Marx, it should show you the link and video cover. I’m a big fan too.

      1. HI STEVE

        Thanks for the info. You’ve covered so much ground over the past 9 months that it’s little wonder I forgot about the Marx one but it will be good to give it another viewing#

        Have a good weekend.

    1 Good of you to fast track the Marx update. If I have read your profit and loss page accurately only 2 of the 6 movies listed actually made a profit and a small one at that so that overall the 6 movies had approx. a $1.45 million loss which would equate to $25 million approx. in today’s dollars. It does show you how tight budgets had to be in those days and how small could be individual profit and loss margins so that the studios must have depended on ACCUMULATIVE profits to thrive as businesses. It is for example maddening to think that a Day at the Races with an almost $300 million worldwide adjusted gross could end up with 27% financial loss

    2 Today one big grosser can make fortunes for life. For example look at the stats for Bud’s Last Tango and Godpop in 1972/73-

    Budget $1.25 million/inflation adjusted $7 million
    WW Rentals $38.8/inflation adjusted $200 million

    Budget $6.0 million/inflation adjusted $34 million
    WW Rentals $157.8 million/inflation adjusted $880 million

    Overall Budget $7.25 million/inflation adjusted $41 million
    WW Rentals $196.6 million/inflation adjusted $1.08 billion

    Rental/Budget sources IMDB. Inflation calculations done by Consumer Price index of Bureau of Labour Statistics

    3 I have used these two movies as an example because I had the relevant budget/rentals figures but think of the much greater profits that those Star Wars/Superhero franchises despite big budgets must have generated over the years! No wonder George Lucas is supposed to have crowed “We have outgrossed Old Hollywood.” No surprise they could afford to throw $20 million a time at Kidman and Gimme More.

    4 However though you know me sufficiently by now to be aware that I eagerly await any further profit/loss figures that you can give your readers I still think that for the purposes of comparing one star’s box office performance with another total movie grosses are the definitive figures as net profits can depend on many variables such as budget overshoots which are normally not the fault of the stars whereas grosses represent tickets sold by an actor. Do you agree?

    1. Hey Bob
      1. I figured with all of the comments Steve’s video sparked that I should update that page.
      2. Closing on 80% when it comes to updated pages….I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.
      3. You are reading the table correctly….the Marx Brothers did not have much success bringing studios back much revenue. That is probably while they did not make too many movies.
      4. A Day At The Races budget was huge……a 2 million plus budget in the 1930s… that did not happen too often. Which is why the movie did not make any money. But you notice learned their lesson, as their budgets quickly dropped after that movie was released.
      5. Those two Marlon successful movies really benefited him as they made executives willing to pay him his salary demands.
      6. I agree…. ticket sells are the better way to judge a star’s power than profitability. I don’t the Marx Brothers fans would have thought any less of them if they knew their movies were not too profitable. As they did put fannies in the seats,
      Good comment…..thank you.

  3. JOHN

    Bruce has in fact just told me that he has to update both his domestic and worldwide grosses for the Marx Bros on this page and hopes to do that shortly. The updates can up to almost double an earlier gross of his for a 1930s film. For example Bruce’s existing adjusted gross gives Day at the Races (1937) $158.3 million which I have seen become around $298 million in a previous similar update for that year.

    1. Hey Bob….this table is now updated. Their $100 million hits went from 2 to 7….with A Day At The Races being a $200 million hit. Now working on a table that shows all the MGM and RKO ledgers I have.

  4. Cogerson

    Just a question. Am I reading the list of worldwide grosses correctly in that most of their MGM films showed significant losses. For example, a 27% loss for A Day at the Races?

    I have heard they were let go by Paramount because of poor box office performances, but had thought they made a box office comeback at MGM.

    1. Hey John…currently working on a table that will answer your question…going to put all of my ledger numbers in that table. Duck Soup which is now considered their best movie struggled at the box office, which was bad timing because their Paramount contract was ending. Their first two movies with Irving Thalberg at MGM had great returns and great reviews…..Thalberg had big plans for them but his passing obviously ruined that plan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.