“Why I’d horse-whip you, if I’d a horse.” That brillaint one-liner came from the king of the one-liners and quick repartee, Groucho Marx.
This is a personal recollection of fond memories and belly busting laughs at the expense and movies of the Marx Bros, Gawd bless ’em!
My first recollection of watching the likeable, mischievous trio was on telly in my younger days and from the outset I was hooked. Three totally different characters in dress style and manner, yet bound by one desire, to get rich!
My favourite of the bros, was Groucho, with his ludicrous ‘painted on’ moustache, crazy hair, kooky specs, stooped walk and usually present fat cigar dangling from his mouth.
He always looked like a model for a bad gent’s outfitters. He was the one tho’ with the rapid take downs, the ‘bullett quick’ banter and rapid repartee. Having taken a leaf out of his book, I also sport my own false moustache, tho’ have recently grown my own, only to find I need to darken it (bummer).
Next, for me, was Chico (cos he liked the girls/chicks) I loved his ‘loveable idiot’ guise and his pseudo-italian accent and ‘pigeon english.’ He was the perfect foil for Groucho, as was Groucho for him!
Lastly, we have the inimitable Harpo. The ultimate ‘clown and innocent buffoon with mysterious transcendental trousers and clothes. whose pockets semed to defy the laws of physics as far as storing objects that were too bulky, too large etc. Harpo could always be relied on to have anything at hand that was required for the purposes of the script and like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat, et voila….he did so with consummate ease, much to the astonishment of Groucho.
As I discovered the bros, I devoured any scraps of info I could find on them, read books and articles and of course, the closest thing to fan worship, for me…watched their films with much joy and hilarity.
Strangely enough for me, altough I could appreciate their musical talents, Harpo on Harp, Chico on Piano or occassionally groucho on guitar and vocals….it was their comedy I loved best. They had a chemistry together, even tho’ studio bosses usually churned out formulaic scenarios in their films the bros usually managed to deliver fresh laughs each time.
I distinctly remember some great scenes from their films. The ‘At The Circus’ scene where Groucho is in a midget’s caravan and is trying to incriminate him by asking for a cigar and get his prints on it, Chico keeps spoiling it by pulling out his own cigars for Groucho to smoke!!! This results in absurditiy, with Groucho depositing the hardly smoked butts in an overhead lampshade.
There’s the ‘Swordfish’ password scene where Groucho is trying to gain entry to a speakeasy club and Choc gives him a password only to keep changing it, thus frustrating Groucho’s entry….or the tootsie-frootsie ice-cream scene where Chico once again diddles Groucho out of his money.
One of my all time favourites however, is the famous mirror / reflection scene in duck soup where Harpo doubles as Groucho’s reflection and copies him, but using trickery in the process (watch it, you’ll see what I mean).
The great thing about Marx Bros movies, is the hilarious and nefarious antics they get up to, from being stowaways on a boat, to impersonating aviators, to posing as horse doctors (vets) to running an asylum, to being an opera manager and more. They never fail to make me laugh and will go down in film history as being unique in their own brand of comedy.
Let’s all face it….in these grey days of global recession, doom and gloom and bad news all the time, we all need a good laugh. Why not get yourself a dvd copy of some of their films today and give yourself a treat, after all, they say that laughter is the best medicine!
See you again, Marty.