I was a kid who grew up with a black and white TV in the house. When we watched the Wizard of Oz, we never knew there was anything unusual about Dorothy entering the Land of Oz, other than the mess of midgets dancing and singing. It was black and white whether she was at Oz or back home in Kansas. So when color came to our TV it was such an amazing thing, I lost interest in anything not in vivid (or washed out) color.
Now, 40 years later I am watching TV one day and see an old Marx Brothers film. I was hooked on the crazy humor. It was only a matter of weeks until several DVDs arrived from Amazon.com.
To see the talent of the ever silent Harpo with his unique ability to confuse anyone he comes in contact with, and his amazing exchange of hats and deft pair of scissors that can remove any tie, garment or pocket in a heartbeat. But then place him next to a harp, and he is able to make the strings sing like a choir of angels.
And to watch Chico sit at a piano and play is so incredible, that I have come to realize the ones who most enjoy his performances are his hands, with the fingers that literally dance across the ivory, skipping and jumping like a child fresh out of school for the summer.
And to see the antics of Groucho with his continuous attempts to marry Margaret Dumont who played: Martha Phelps, Mrs. Dukesbury, Mrs. Upjohn, Mrs. Claypool, Mrs. Teasdale, Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Potter and others.
Groucho with his one-liners are memorialized by many people in the entertainment industry.
“I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas I’ll never know.”
Female: “Hold me closer …”
Groucho: “If I hold you any closer, I’ll be behind you!”
Here’s to our wives and girlfriends… may they never meet!
I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.
Die, my dear? Why that’s the last thing I’ll do!
And many many others. They’re nonstop in the movies.
You can’t help but notice that everyone in the films are having fun as well. Many times you will see an actor trying to hold back a smile. I have a bit of my mother’s curiosity, so as I watched these movies I became more in awe at these men, until I had to jump onto Wikipedia to find out more about them.
I knew there was a fourth brother, Zeppo that played in the earlier movies, but I find that there was also another brother, Gummo, who left acting before his brothers entered the films.
But I also see there was actually a sixth brother, the first born, Manfred, who died at 7 months, probably a victim of influenza. – what a great trivia question!
I have since ordered a book titled, Harpo Speaks, which is a biography of the Marx Brothers through the eyes of Harpo, the one who never spoke in the films, who supposedly only had a year and a half of schooling. Ironically, it is said he was the best at words. I am assured it is good reading and when finished, I will add its book report to the I’ve always hated book reports section.
It is a good thing to delve in the past humor of Hollywood when it was truly funny and worth watching, to clear your head of the convulsions and bias of the modern film world. My hats off to those zany men and their antics. Heaven must be a really funny place at times.
Keep kicking. D.