The Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx
The Groucho Letters – Letters to and from Groucho Marx is a collection of, well, letters sent by Groucho Marx. If you like Groucho Marx’ acerbic sense of humor, you’ll love this. One small example is Groucho’s famous letter to the Warner Brothers about the Marx Brothers’ using the name ‘Casablanca’ in their film, A Night in Casablanca. Letters to his brothers, friends famous and not-so-famous are all filled with his trademark humor. (more…)
Groucho and Me is a very entertaining autobiography of Groucho Marx, written by Julius Marx (Groucho’s real name). Witty and entertaining, with piles of anecdotes, it’s well worth reading if you’re a fan of Groucho Marx – but not if you’re looking for accuracy or detail of life behind the scenes for the Marx Brothers. For example, Groucho’s version of the story behind why Harpo never spoke on screen is hilariously funny; but totally inaccurate.
If you’re looking for detail or accuracy, you’ll have to look elsewhere; but if you’re looking for an entertaining read directly from the fingers of Groucho himself, look no further. A recommended read. For a taste, feel free to check out funny quotes from Groucho and Me. (more…)
Editorial Reviews of You Bet Your Life – The Best Episodes, courtesy of Amazon.com
The secret word for Groucho Marx fans is ‘DVD.’ This three-disc set collects a priceless archive of 18 complete and uncut episodes filmed between 1950 and 1960. The surprise success of the radio incarnation of You Bet Your Life assured for Groucho that there would be life after the Marx Brothers, whose film career came to a sad end with 1950’s Love Happy. The television series would be an even bigger hit, and make Groucho a household name. You Bet Your Life was ostensibly a quiz show, but it was more just a forum for Groucho to crack wise with the contestants. These were mostly ordinary people with oddball jobs or interests, or extraordinary talents, like the man who blows up a tire’s inner-tube on an episode included on disc 2. Knowing now that the program was carefully planned does not diminish the fun. There are many precious spontaneous moments, such as the trombone-playing female contestant who practically swoons over Groucho’s announcer/straight man George Fenneman. (more…)
Editorial Review of Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers, by Simon Louvish (courtesy of Amazon.com )
A serious book hiding behind a goofy title, Monkey Business captures a tremendous amount of detail in its pages, enough to satisfy the most hard-core Marx Brothers aficionado. Author Simon Louvish has a talent for showcasing contrasts, and it’s these contrasts–along with a few surprises–that make the brothers such fascinating characters. (more…)
Review of Animal Crackers, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont
Released in 1930, Animal Crackers is the Marx Brothers‘ second film. It’s full of the manic energy for which Groucho Marx, Chico, and Harpo are known. In addition, Zeppo also excels in this film, acting as the secretary for Groucho, aka. Captain Spaulding, famous African explorer. One of the film’s songs, Hooray for Captain Spaulding, became Groucho’s trademark.
In a nutshell, the Marx Brothers become involved in a high society party, where a theft occurs. Leaving them embroiled in finding the crook and clearing their names. Highlights of the film include: (more…)
DVD review of A Night at the Opera (1935) starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx)
Director: Sam Wood
Black & White, HiFi Sound, NTSC
One of the all-time funniest Marx Brothers movies – which makes it one of the funniest movies of all time.
Synopsis: Groucho Marx is Otis P. Driftwood, too busy trying to fleece Mrs. Claypool (played by the fifth Marx brother, Margaret Dumont) to spend time running an Opera Company. Harpo is Tomasso, the abused valet to the pompous tenor, while Chico is Fiorello, self-appointed agent for the unknown, talented young singer Ricardo Baroni (Allan Jones), who is in love with Rosa Castaldi (Kitty Carlisle) – the obligatory singing love interest. When Groucho loses his job, the plot thickens – but with the brothers Marx, who needs a thick plot? Some of the classic comic routines “A Night at the Opera” gives you include: (more…)
A Day at the Races (1937) starring the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo), Margaret Dumont, Allen Jenkins
Synopsis for A Day at the Races
Doctor Hugo Hackenbush, Tony, and Stuffy try to save Judy’s sanitarium by winning a big race with Gil’s horse. A very funny film, with several hilarious moments. Some say it’s the last great Marx Brothers film.
Cast of Characters in A Day at the Races
- Judy (Maureen O’Sullivan, The Thin Man, Hannah and her Sisters). The young lady running a sanitarium, that’s losing money.
- Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille, The Ten Commandments, Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, The Road to Utopia). The shady man who wants to buy the sanitarium and use it for his horse race track.
- Stuffy (Harpo Marx). Fired by Morgan for refusing to throw a race, he throws in with Tony and the rest.
- Tony (Chico Marx), Judy’s loyal employee who’s determined to help her by hook and crook. He talks to Mrs. Upjohn and convinces her to not leave the sanitarium since the “famous” Dr. Hackenbush will be taking over the sanitarium.
- Dr. Hackenbush (Groucho Marx). A veterinarian, not the Dr. Hackenbush — but who’s willing to pretend and go along for the money – and chase after the rich Mrs. Upjohn.
- Mrs. Upjohn (Margaret Dumont). The wealthy widow whose patronage keeps the sanitarium afloat. She falls in love — somehow — with Dr. Hackenbush.
- Gil (Allan Jones, A Night at the Opera, One Night in the Tropics). Judy’s love interest, who invests his life savings in buying a racehorse, on the hope of winning a race and rescuing Judy financially. Morgan, of course, doesn’t want that …
- Flo (Esther Muir, Sunset Murder Case). The pretty young lady, hired by Morgan, to get caught in a “compromising position” with Dr. Hackenbush so that Mrs. Upjohn will leave. Allowing Morgan to buy the sanitarium for a song.
- Dr. Steinberg (Sig Ruman, Stalag 17, To Be or Not to Be, Way … Way Out). The stuffy doctor who doesn’t believe that Dr. Hackenbush is on the level … and is determined to prove that he’s not!
Editorial Review of A Day at the Races (courtesy of Amazon.com)
A Day at the Races is the Marx Brothers at their commercial and popular peak, working with a top Hollywood director (Sam Wood of The Pride of the Yankees), supported with a healthy screen budget paying for such extras as a blue-tinted ballet sequence, love songs from crooner Allan Jones, and decorative sets. But the brothers are also at the top of their game in terms of their own comic material and timing. The story finds Groucho, Chico, and Harpo helping out at a sanatorium, where their longtime foil in the movies, Margaret Dumont, is the leading patient. The film has some of the trio’s funniest and most memorable bits and a dazzling horserace at the climax. (more…)
The Marx Brothers Collection (A Night at The Opera/A Day at The Races/A Night in Casablanca/Room Service/At the Circus/Go West/The Big Store)
A five DVD set, containing seven of the Marx Brothers’ movies (A Night at The Opera, A Day at The Races, A Night in Casablanca, Room Service, At the Circus, Go West, The Big Store). Check out the individual reviews of the various movies. If you plan to buy more than one of any of those, save yourself money and buy the collection instead. Two of their best movies are included (A Night at The Opera, A Day at The Races), two good although underestimated films (A Night in Casablanca, At the Circus), with the rest being mediocre, although with good moments.
There are lots of extras included, such as Leonard Maltin’s commentary on A Night at The Opera, various shorts, trailers, etc. In short, it’s strongly recommended for any Marx Brothers fan. (more…)