Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Marx Brothers

The Marx Brothers will be on the Turner Classic Movies cable channel tonight--late tonight!
(Courtesy of
They are running HorseFeathers at 2:30 A.M. (EDT) and then Animal Crackers at 3:45 A.M. (EDT).
I thought you might like to read what Roland Flamini had to say about them in his book, Thalberg (Crown Publishers, Inc.; 1994; pages 230 - 231):
(Courtesy of
The Marx Brothers were a departure from Thalberg's usual area of interest, but one of his last actions as head of production before his heart attack had been to persuade L. B. Mayer to let him put the comedy team under contract to M-G-M. in so doing, he gave the brothers' collective career a new lease on life and may well have rescued them from obscurity. Today the Marx Brothers are enshrined as immortals of film comedy, but at the time they were well on the way to becoming half-forgotten relics of the silent era. Duck Soap, their fifth film for Paramount, had been well reviewed but, like its two predecessors, was a disappoinment at the box office, and the word was they were all but washed up in Hollywood. They were middle-aged, and many of their routines seemed that way as well. With money still scarce, Paramount had sown no interest in investing in another Marx Brothers movie.
The Marx Brothers may not have known the modern term networking, but they were expert practitioners of it. Groucho was a founder-member of the Hollywood Literary and Asthma Club, which consisted almost entirely of leading writers, especially humorous writers, among them Gene Fowler and Robert Benchley. Its members met for lunch every Thursday to grouse about there various employers and destroy reputations. Harpo, always mute in their act but the most articulate of the three in real life, was a favorite of the New York literary crowd, with his own place at the Algonquin Round Table. But Harpo also had powerful friends in top movie circles, including Sam Goldwyn, and on the basis of that friendship, Goldwyn had stepped in with a halfhearted offer to produce the Marx Brothers' next picture. Chico, who had cultivated studio executives for years, played bridge regularly with Thalberg and now appealed to him for help.
(Courtesy of
Thalberg screened Duck Soup, watched other Marx Brothers movies, and then pressed a very reluctant Mayer to sign up the comedy trio. "If Irving wants you, go with him," Goldwyn told Harpo, possibly a little relieved to be off the hook himself. "He knows more in one finger than I know in my whole body."
. . .
Pop Quiz Time!
Can you name all 5 (yes, that's five!) of the Marx Brothers?!?!
Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo
and Gummo.
No . . . that's not something you chew on when you're nervous. That really was his name!
And you thought Frank Zappa had fun naming HIS kids!


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