Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I shot an elephant in my pajamas

It's probably not news to some of you that the Marx Brothers are the fucking funniest, but you might need reminding. I got Animal Crackers in the mail and it was one of those sneaky movies that creeps to the top of the queue over years and I'm like "crap, I don't feel like watching this". Boy was I wrong. The opening scene is a stupid musical number for that song hello I must be going and when it started I thought that the humor from 1930 was probably not going to be something I could relate to. But then once Groucho started in I was sold. Not to mention the genius of Harpo. Not to mention the fake Italianness of Chico. There's a really funny scene where he calls out a guy for masquerading as a gentile and the guy calls him out for pretending to be Italian. Zeppo whatevs.

I liked these movies as a kid and I was tripping on thinking about the fact that it was 44 years old when I was born which is the equivalent to a movie filmed in 1969 today. Woah trip out. No I was not stoned.

And that's all my news. I turned in a thing about the pusha t show to SNR and then had anxiety about it last night that I had blathered on about the Clipse for too long and not said enough about the show and then it was too late to add more. I also need to start my article for Edible.


beckler said...

a crazy thing about the movies is that you can see some improv when mistakes occur. the feel of the movies is loose and odd, which adds to the disjointed comedy. also, Margaret Dumont's reactions are strange (she's in this scene and was in 7 of their movies)and she seems to be struggling not to laugh pretty often, probably because groucho would be improving.

Anonymous said...

Did PT perform "Trouble on my Mind"?


Snufkin said...

Anybody else old enough to remember how Channel 40 would do a "Summer Film Festival" every summer showing movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood by theme. While I always enjoyed Billy Wilder week and Alfred Hitchcock week, my absolute favorite was Marx Brothers week, Animal Crackers is definitely my favorite. So much that I made a paper bag puppet of Groucho for one of my summer school arts and crafts assignment. Grouchy was the one who got all the attention, but Harpo was a pretty interesting guy himself. Favorite recent random fact I learned is that he was instrumental in getting the 1940s version of Pride and Prejudice made, including having Aldous Huxley write the screenplay.

beckler said...

I don't think he did but he did do a lot of one-verse snippets with his DJ making an exploding sound effect to delineate. The thing I wrote sounds too negative. Crap. I was grumpy from watching so many opening acts. I gotta stop getting tricked into going early to those shows. I should just sit at shady lady and keep checking the progress. But i'll get drunk either way. blah blah

A groucho paper bag puppet is awesome. Is it weird I think Harpo is cute?

Snufkin said...

The Arts & Crafts teacher thought I was a weird kid for making that puppet, but it made me very happy. Zeppo was supposedly the handsome Marx, but Harpo looked pretty good when he wasn't wearing his wig: img src=http://cdn1.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/harpo-marx-2.jpg

I still know all the lyrics to the Captain Jeffrey Spaulding song and frequently think of different characters in movies or TV as the "Margaret Dumont" character.

Anonymous said...

Marx Bros are so %$#@ good! Totally essential! The ad libbing is always one of the best parts of their movies.

Useless trivia fact of the day: they took their names and schtick from a popular early 1900s comic strip series by Gus Mager where monkeys had names based on their notable trait or professions - so Sherlocko was a monkey detective, Rhymo rhymed and Groucho was grouchy. Hence Groucho the grouch, Chico chasing chicks, Harpo playing the harp, and then I dunno about Zeppo- maybe he was a zeppelin pilot? Pretty much forgotten today, but Sherlocko eventually had a name change to Hawkshaw the Detective and ran in papers for decades.


Anonymous said...

Recently saw "A night at the Opera" and was in stitches. side-splitting shit, some of it.

It's crazy how young Groucho looks. I always thought of him as an old man, but in your clip he looks to be in his 20s.


Snufkin said...

Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races were the first two I saw on Channel 40 and got hooked. Imagine after that seeing Duck Soup and Animal Crackers and then really getting your mind blown.

I've never looked into it, but just because I loved the Marx Brothers and the Muppets around that age, I'd bet their humor had to have influenced Jim Henson, at least their love of puns (there ain't no Sanity Clause).

Anonymous said...

I totally remember and hopelessly miss those Channel 40 mini film festivals. My crazy Eastern Euro dad practically refused to let us watch Saturday morning cartoons, so he'd record stuff like Charlie Chaplin and have us watch those films instead. And, I was so completely into "Gold Rush" and "The Kid." There are so many amazingly sweet and subtle scenes in there. Later, I watched Buster Keaton and in college I did a short study of other early slapstick players, including some really great Yiddish actors like Molly Picon (it sucks you can't find her films easily - she ruled), but Chaplin is still the best.

I recently showed my kids some of "Gold Rush" and I was so glad they got the humor and liked the film.


Snufkin said...

I never saw the Keaton or Chaplin movies on Channel 40, but another thing that's so interesting watching them as an adult is identifying the scene locations around here (Sacramento River or up in Truckee) which were used for location shoots.

One last memory this brought up, my middle sister had the "Sure I'm a Marxist!" t-shirt http://www.northernsun.com/-Marxist-Brothers-T-Shirt-(1030).html

beckler said...

Groucho was 40 when this came out. But I agree, when I was a little kid I of course thought he was an old man.

beckler said...

Dumont is really a bizarre actress. She was often called "the fifth marx brother". Grouch spread the rumor that she didn't get any of the jokes but that wasn't true.