Groucho Marx cited "Dr. Hackenbush" as his favorite character from his films, so much so that he would occasionally sign letters to friends using that name.
Groucho Marx's character was initially to have been named Dr. Quackenbush, which he and everyone else thought was too silly a name to offend anyone. However, MGM's legal department discovered at least a dozen legitimate U.S. doctors named Quackenbush, so for legal reasons and to Groucho's dismay, the name was changed to Hackenbush.
Irving Thalberg protested the scene in which Harpo Marx frantically mimes to Chico Marx that Hackenbush (Groucho Marx) is in danger. It changed Harpo, said Thalberg, from a character who DIDN'T talk into a character who couldn't talk. Either way, the gag was used again in A Night in Casablanca and Love Happy.
Richard Farnsworth's first film.
Al Boasberg, the man most responsible for shaping the early comic persona of Jack Benny, was initially given top billing among the film's writers. In what was to become one of the first major disputes over film writing credit, Boasberg (primarily a gag man) sought sole credit for the comedic scenes, leaving credit for the screenplay itself to Robert Pirosh and George Seaton. MGM bitterly fought this and punished Boasberg by listing him under the others. A furious Boasberg had his name removed from the film completely.
Glenn Mitchell's commentary on the Warner Home Video DVD states that the band backing Ivie Anderson's rendition of "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" was drawn from the Duke Ellington Orchestra, for whom Anderson was a vocalist at the time.
In 2000, this was ranked as the 59th funniest film of all time by the American Film Institute.
In the finale, Groucho Marx sings one line of a song called "I've Got a Message from the Man in the Moon." The entire song was filmed but not used in the final cut.
It is the 'other' film that ends with the line, 'Tomorrow is another day.'
MGM executive Irving Thalberg died within two weeks of the start of filming. He was instrumental in bringing The Marx Brothers back to greatness with A Night at the Opera and was the brothers' main supporter at MGM. Groucho Marx claimed that he lost interest in films after Thalberg's death.
The "Grand Steeplechase" sequence at the end had to be shot twice. Both times a crew member persuaded Chico Marx to gamble on it and not only to bet on the outcome of a rigged non-race, but to bet on a horse other than the one scripted to win. Chico, all his life an avid gambler, could offer as excuse only, "The odds were 20 to one."
The then unknown British actress Greer Garson was offered the female role, but she declined, explaining she didn't settled for less than a leading role.
There was originally a song that echoed "Hurray for Captain Spaulding" entitled "Dr. Hackenbush" (written by "Spaulding" songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby). However, it was decided that something needed to be cut and Groucho Marx volunteered this song. He came to regret this this decision and in later years often sang the song at gatherings.
This is the only film of The Marx Brothers to receive an Oscar nomination in a competitive category, being nominated for Dave Gould's dance direction. Groucho Marx would go on to win an honorary Oscar in 1974.
The Marx Brothers classic 1937 comedy, A Day at the Races , was filmed at the Santa Anita Race Track (285 W. Huntington Drive) in Arcadia, CA.