Movie Review: Horse Feathers (1932)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1932 comedy movie starring the Marx Brothers.

Synopsis: Struggling Huxley University hires a new president and his first order of business is to beat rival Darwin in the annual football game. As part of this, he intends to hire talented ringers to play on his team. However, he mistakenly hires a couple of bumblers instead. In addition, he, his son and others are distracted by the local college widow.

Who's In It?


I came across this movie on New Year's Eve and, realizing it was one of the few Marx Brothers comedies I had not seen, I took the time to watch it. At first, I wasn't sure if it was going to be as enjoyable as the other movies I've watched. But, as it turns out, it was actually a pleasantly funny movie.

Groucho Marx as a college president seemed a little far fetched at first and, when the movie first started, it did seem a little too ridiculous of an idea. However, as the movie progressed and Huxley University's problems were revealed, it did, at least in a way, make some sense. And, since they were struggling so much, the idea of putting the college's resources toward a football game rather than education almost made some sense too.

Even though Groucho typically receives top billing in films like this, I thought Chico and Harpo were the two that really made this film watchable. Their role as the accidental paid stringers was pretty funny, especially as they were asked to do a variety of other things for the university. And Harpo, as always, was hilarious with his sight gags. 

My oldest daughter was watching this with me and I did have to explain the concept of a "college widow" to her (in terms that were suitable for her age). But, overall, I thought Todd's performance was noteworthy in this film. She was seductive but also played an important role in some of the jokes and,after seeing her in this film, it was easy to understand the potential that was lost by her untimely death.

Probably my only real complaint about this movie was the football game itself. Yes, I get this is a comedy and, because of that, shouldn't be taken too seriously. But, some of the ways they scored points in the game were almost a little too cartoon-like. However, despite this, I did, admittedly, find myself laughing a bit so I guess it wasn't that big of a deal.

Horse Feathers

The four Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo – are at the top of their game in the uproarious parody of college life, Horse Feathers. As president of Huxley College,...

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Final Opinion

This is a surprisingly funny movie and became one of my favorite Marx Brothers films. I do recommend taking the time to watch it if you are in the mood for a good classic comedy.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 01/02/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/30/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
The library system does not have Horse Feathers among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. So I expect not to be seeing the film any time soon.

Would there be any comedians today -- Adam Sandler? -- who could take on Marx Brothers roles, and, if so, would any of them be able to handle Horse Feathers?

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