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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, , , ,   

    A NIGHT AT THE (SOAP) OPERA – Act III 

    When last we met, leaving our three stowaways on the good ship Lollipoop, Tomasso had cut the beards off of three Russian aviators, and he, Fiorello and Ricardo had assumed their identities….or so you were left to assume. But you don’t have to take my word for it….

    Having escaped from the speakers’ platform outside City Hall with plainclothes detective Henderson in pursuit, the stowaways and Driftwort take refuge in a nearby hotel, where they have a flat and retire. In the a.m., they have room service send up their breakfast.

    Just when you thought the opening night of the opera season would never arrive, it does….and so does Driftwort, only to learn that he has been fired by Missis Playpool for associating with riffraff (how riffraff got into the act, I’ll never know). Not to be denied, Driftwort (together with Tomasso and Fiorello) goes to Gottliebchen’s office, locks him in a closet, replaces Gottliebchen as Missis Playpool’s escort, and delivers the opening night address, which is the same as the day address, but not as easy to see:

    Is there no end to this madness? For the answer to that question, you will have to return for Act IV. Until then….

     
    • calmkate 5:34 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      thanks for finally revealing why my father would Never let us watch the Marx Bros … but I enjoyed a good giggle. They are obviously cousins to Abbott and Costello ūüėé

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:39 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You’re welcome, Kate. A & C’s heyday started when the Marx Brothers’ best years ended in the 1940s. A & C may have been the ‘successors’ to the Marxes, though in my opinion, their films didn’t reach the level of madcap originality and wit of the Marx Brothers. But all due credit to A & C for one of the classic routines of all time, WHO’S ON FIRST?

        Liked by 2 people

    • masercot 9:23 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve repeated Chico’s story of crossing the Atlantic to people just for the blank stares I get.

      “We getta close… a maybe a three feet… and what dya think, we run outta gas and we gotta go back…”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ashley 9:39 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Crazy, crazy, crazy! Only the Marx Brothers could get away with such idiocy! It’s good to laugh just for the hell of it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 3:00 am on March 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      ‘O for the lyrics and lyricists of yore.
      They don’t make too many like them anymore
      Since ol’ Yip and Porter and Brecht
      Said adieu
      The clever and worldly are far ‘tween and few.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:50 am on March 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You’re not a bad “lyricist” yourself — though setting your lyrics to music might stand no more than a “Ghost Of A Chance” (a 1933 hit composed by Victor Young, lyrics by Ned Washington)! ūüėČ

        Like

    • barkinginthedark 9:54 pm on March 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      i almost forgot what a terrific crooner Der Bingle was. thanks MM. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:29 pm on March 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I love the early Crosby’s voice. After about 1935, he gradually changed from being the emotional crooner of that 1933 clip to being, in my opinion, a less appealing and more commercially oriented (for lack of a better term) singer — still good, but not “terrific.” I own many recordings from both stages of his career, and the difference is obvious.

        Like

  • mistermuse 7:39 pm on February 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, Allan Jones, , Kitty Carlisle, ,   

    A NIGHT AT THE (SOAP) OPERA – Act II 

    SCENE: A ship sailing from Wherever to New Yurt
    TIME:   A day or two after Whenever
    CAST:   The usual suspects (same characters as Act I)

    As the curtain opens on Act II, we find Opus E. Driftwort, Missis Playpool, Hermano Gottliebchen, renowned tenor Rodolpho Alasprairie, and beautiful soprano Rosa Grossa, who has been selected as the leading lady, onboard the good ship Lollipoop (which was pirated from an earlier opera set in the deep South titled BRAT EYES, starring Surly Temper as the leading child). The ship is about to depart for New Yurt, where the famous New Yurt Opera House is believed to be located.

    Sadly, tenor Ricardo Macaroni (Allan Jonesboro), who is in love with Rosa (and her with he), is being left behind on the dock, leading to this heart-breaking parting of the ways:

    Shortly thereafter, Driftwort enters his cabin and proceeds with the tusk of opening his trunk, only to find it packed with hungry stowaways Fiorello and Tomasso Marxista and Macaroni.

    Later, following much more merrymaking, music, and muddled madness, the stowaways are caught and confined to quarters for a change. Fiorello subsequently tires of listening to Tomasso’s kazoo and tosses it out the porthole. Tomasso leaps after it into the ocean, from which a lifeline lifts him into the stateroom of three bearded Russian aviators taking a nap. Tomasso then takes to his scissors, leaving three Russian aviators beardless and three stowaways becoming bearded Russian aviators Chicoski, Harpotski and Baronoff.

    Bear with us — we’re off until Act III.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    • Yeah, Another Blogger 11:43 pm on February 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      This is complicated!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:24 am on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        If you’ve never seen the movie A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935), I don’t blame you for finding this hard to follow. I’ve seen it probably half a dozen times over the years, and it hardly makes sense to me — but then, it’s the Marx Brothers, so it’s not supposed to make sense. Chaos reigns in all their films, especially in their two best films, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and DUCK SOUP.

        BTW, for the benefit of those who aren’t old time movie buffs, the reference (in the first paragraph) to BRAT EYES starring Surly Temper, is wordplay on the 1934 film BRIGHT EYES starring Shirley Temple. If any of my readers made that connection, I salute you (but don’t call me Shirley).

        Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 8:10 am on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “Would you like your nails long or short?”

      “Better make it short, it’s getting pretty crowded in here”

      Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 12:32 pm on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      HAHAHA! I’m enjoying this new Night at the Opera! ūüėÄ

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 7:15 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Haha ‚Äď I love that scene in the crowded cabin. It never gets old.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:47 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        That scene and the “sanity clause” scene are my favorites in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA — two classic scenes in a classic film!

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:03 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, , , ,   

    A NIGHT AT THE (SOAP) OPERA 

    SCENE: Wherever
    TIME: Whenever

    CAST:

    Groucho Marxisto        OPUS E. DRIFTWORT
    Chico Marxisto             FIORELLO BLOWHARDO
    Harpo Marxisto           TOMASSO PASTO
    Margaret Dontmont    MISSIS PLAYPOOL
    Sig Rumanboardo       HERMANO GOTLIEBCHEN
    Kitty Carlisimo            ROSA GROSSA
    Allan Jonesboro          RICARDO MACARONI
    Walter Wolf Kink        RODOLPHO ALASPRAIRIE
    Roberto O’Connor¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†POLICE DETECTIVE BANDITO MUSOLINI HENDERSON

    ACT 1

    Missis Playpool , millionaire dowager and high-society wannabe, has been stood up for dinner at a fancy restaurant by Opus E. Driftwort, gold-digging entrepreneur. After being discovered dining with a gorgeous blond at the next table, Driftwort worms his way out of the situation and sits down with Missis Playpool for a second dinner, during which he professes his undying love for her. Repulsed, he then proposes a plan to get her into society by investing $200,000 (in round figures) in the New Yurt Opera Company.

    Hermano Gotliebchen, impresario of the opera, happily accepts Missis Playpool’s money with intent to hire celebrated Italian tenor Rodolpho Alasprairie, who beats his valet, Tomasso Pasto, for trying on one of Rodolpho’s costumes before the opera which Missis Playpool attends, after which she and Gotliebchen agree to sign the tenor to a contract. Got that?

    Enter Fiorello Blowhardo, who claims to represent the “greatest tenor in the world” (Ricardo Macaroni, a little-known singer in the chorus). Driftwort, thinking Blowhardo represents Alasprairie, tries to get Blowhardo to sign a contract in which Driftwort gets $990 of the $1,000-a-week contract for the “greatest tenor’s” services….but the contract has too many disagreeable clauses, which they agree to rip out until they’re down to the last clause, which happens to be the sanity clause. Of course, Blowhardo claims there ain’t no Sanity Claus, and that’s the end of Act One.

    There will now be a short intermission, during which you are free to check out the commercials, or go to the fridge for a beer, before we resume with Act Two.

     

     

     
    • tref 2:06 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      … patiently waiting in my seat for act two.

      Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 6:42 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “I’ll hold your seat ’til you get there. After you get there, you’re on your own”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:35 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know how that Rufus T. Firefly quote got into this soap opera, but it’s just ducky with me — in fact, it’s Ducky Soupy.

        Like

    • calmkate 7:10 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      ooh powerful play writer too …

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 3:44 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know about “powerful,” Kate, but I do have to play right, or my wife will spank me

        Like

    • magickmermaid 5:03 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      The party of the first part (i.e. me) thinks the party of the second part (i.e. you) should throw party for all parties of the third part ūüėČ

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:39 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Chico (Fiorello) didn’t like the first part — especially the first part of the party of the first part — and I have a feeling I may not like the the second or third part, so I’m thinking about skipping to the fourth part. If I don’t like that, I’ll take the fifth amendment and go home. Wait — I’m already home. Well, that certainly was a long way to go to be back where I started.

        Like

    • David Redpath 8:38 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Harpo’s performance left me speechlessūüôä
      But Groucho gets my vote, being a marxistūüėé

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:54 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds like you’re saying that Groucho took the “Red path” (sorry if I took the low road with that pun).

        Like

    • barkinginthedark 4:57 pm on February 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      the original Beatles. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, , , , , , Harpo Marx, , Paul Simon, , , silence is golden, silent films, , The Sound of Silence,   

    THE SOUND OF SILENTS 

    You sure you can’t move? –what Harpo Marx “said” to the tied-up hero (Richard Dix) before punching him in the 1925 film TOO MANY KISSES (fortunately, the film survived)

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    Italicized above are the only words ever “spoken” (but not heard) on film by the man whose birthday we note today, HARPO MARX. The audience didn’t hear those five words because the film was a “silent” — “talkies” didn’t come on the scene until 1927, two years before the first of thirteen Marx Brothers movies (1929-49). Harpo spoke in none of them.

    But why, oh why-o, should I try-o to “bio” Harpo, when here-o you can click on the official thing from his offspring:

    https://www.harposplace.com/

    Because Harpo associated with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and other wits in the famed Algonquin Round Table repartee, I expected to turn up a number of witty Harpo Marx quotes for this piece. No such luck — I found only one I enjoyed enough to post here (both the “she” referred to in the quote, and who it is addressed to, are unknown):

    “She’s a lovely person. She deserves a good husband. Marry her before she finds one.”

    One quote being three quotes short of a gallon, I shall return to giving you “the silent treatment” with a quota of four quotes of silence said by forethoughtful others:

    “Listen to the sound of silence.” –Paul Simon, American singer, songwriter, and actor

    “Silence is golden unless you have kids, then it’s just plain suspicious.” –anonymous

    “If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, what a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth!” –A. P. Herbert, English humorist, writer, and politician

    “I believe in the discipline of silence and can talk for hours about it.” –George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic

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    Since I didn’t give Harpo the last word, I’ll let him give¬†his audience the last laugh….and though he doesn’t speak, you’ll hear captivating sounds escape his lips 2:42 into this clip:

    Bravo, Harpo!

    EPILOGUE: Listen — 90+ years after the “silents” ended*, you can still hear….

    *with the exception of two Charlie Chaplin masterpieces in the 1930s, CITY LIGHTS and MODERN TIMES

     
    • calmkate 4:24 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      wow Harpo is actually playing that harp! Love his whistle ūüôā
      SnG’s song is a real favourite … thanks for the memories!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:25 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        You’re welcome, Kate. I too love Harpo’s whistling in the Marx Brothers Musical clip, and I can’t imagine anyone not loving Simon & Garfunkel’s THE SOUND OF SILENCE (except Trump, who is incapable of appreciating the sound of silence if you paid him).

        Liked by 2 people

        • calmkate 5:09 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink

          doubt he even knows what ‘silence’ means … not much between his ears except fluffy hair!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Don Ostertag 8:40 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink

          When i am in a funk I watch a Marx Brothers movie or listen to a favorite song like Sound of Silence.

          Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 7:47 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a HUGE Marx Brothers fan.

      Harpo adopted several children because he and his wife couldn’t have any of their own. His aim was, in his words, when he got home he’d have a child looking at him “from every window”…

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:35 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Likewise about the Marx Brothers. If they had made no other films than A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and DUCK SOUP, they would still be remembered forever (I hope).

        Liked by 2 people

        • masercot 8:32 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          My favorite, not to be contrary, is A Day at the Races. Why? The great jazz number in the middle of the movie as well as the Tootsie-Frootsie Ice Cream Scene…

          Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:01 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Although Races isn’t my fav Marx Bros. movie, I’m always up for a jazz number, though this one has a very brief “bug-eyed” shot or two that might be regarded as racist today:

        Liked by 1 person

        • masercot 10:15 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          I agree with that but I’ll put up with a little light racism to see a wonderful performance by a jazz artist who died far too young…

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 7:40 pm on November 24, 2019 Permalink

          I assume you’re referring to vocalist Ivie Anderson, whose gig in this film was one of her rare appearances apart from the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Her performance here (as well as on the many recording she made with the Duke) was indeed wonderful.

          Like

    • Rivergirl 8:46 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      My father loved the Marx brothers and I grew up on all the films. Thanks for the memories!

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:41 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Rg. Now I know (at least part of) why you grew up to be who you are (that’s wholly a compliment, btw).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley 9:07 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Amazing to see and hear Harpo playing the harp. Captivating! So much talent!

      Liked by 2 people

    • D. Wallace Peach 9:19 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      ‚ÄúSilence is golden unless you have kids, then it‚Äôs just plain suspicious.‚ÄĚ So true! Lol. Fun quotes and clips and a beautiful song from Paul Simon. ūüėÄ

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:49 pm on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        “Fun quotes and clips and a beautiful song” — three for the price of one! Who says I don’t offer bargains? Thanks for the testimonial, Diana!

        Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 3:31 pm on November 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Another big Marx Brothers fan here! Classic laugh fest!

      Liked by 1 person

    • tref 9:43 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Harpo playing the song “Alone” in night at the opera the very height of cinema. I could never grow tired of watching it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:25 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        That is one of many great moments in the movie that I never tire of watching, such as the stateroom scene. The 1930s was truly the height of film making.

        Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 3:57 am on December 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Priceless MM. Priceless. continue…

      Like

    • mistermuse 9:49 am on December 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you. I’d give your comment a Like, but it doesn’t “take” when I click it.

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, E. B. White, George S. Kaufman, , , , , optimist, , , S. J. Perleman, , ,   

    PARDON MY QUOTES 

    It is easier to buy books than to read them, and easier to read them than to absorb them. –William Osler

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    Now that’s a quote I can¬†relate to — of the near-50 books I bought at that November used book sale I¬†wrote about recently,¬†in 3 weeks¬†I’ve managed to find time to read all of¬†2 1/2; that’s all of¬†two books¬†(plus half of one) traversed¬†in 21 days,¬†as the crow¬†flies. At that rate, I’ll have bought 50 more books before I’ve read¬†an iota of¬†my quota¬†from the last batch — and I’ve already bought ten more books since then. Nonetheless (actually¬†all the¬†more, both batches combined), rather than completely¬†skip¬†a post as I did December 5,¬†I’ll at least¬†try to save composing-time by¬†posting¬†(aka com-posting) the words of others.

    Fittingly, I’ll quote the six Masters of Wit¬†(from my¬†previous post) to whom Groucho Marx dedicated his book¬†GROUCHO AND ME. The last quote below¬†cites another timesaver some people¬†practice,¬†but¬†rarely admit….however, I’ll¬†open with Robert Benchley, who undoubtedly¬†said¬†the following¬†following A Night At The Opera with the Marx Brothers:

    Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.
    –ROBERT BENCHLEY

    I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions¬† — the curtain was up.
    — GEORGE S. KAUFMAN

    An optimist is a girl who mistakes a bulge for a curve.
    –RING LARDNER

    Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?
    –JAMES THURBER

    The fact is that all of us have only one personality, and we wring it out like a dishtowel. You are what you are.
    –S. J. PERLEMAN

    Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.
    –E. B. WHITE

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    • Carmen 5:33 am on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I always thought I was an optimist and, after reading that quote, I know for sure. ūüôā Great quotes for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:58 am on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Carmen, your comment threw me a curve until I went back to the quotes, and then it hit me. No problem, though — how appropriate that the “bulge” quote was made by Ring LARDner! ūüôā

      Like

    • Don Frankel 7:53 pm on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A book a week Muse that sounds about what I do. But this reminds me of a time I bought a book at Barnes and Noble and while I’m paying the woman at the counter she asks. “Would you like to join the Barnes and Noble club?” And, I explain that I buy books here and at other book stores and off of guys on the street corner and just about anywhere and I conclude that when it comes to books the term that applies to me is… and I guess you as well Muse, “promiscuous.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 11:19 pm on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Actually, a book a week is quite a bit more than I usually manage, Don, but I hope to pick up the pace over the winter when I don’t have grass to mow, leaves to rake, and other work around the house. Now if I could only resist buying more books for the next five years!

      Like

    • BroadBlogs 5:11 pm on December 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You may not have gotten through all the books, but you’ve got some great quotes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:13 pm on December 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I must modestly agree. I like them all so much, I can’t name a favorite.

      Like

    • RMW 6:25 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Over the years I accumulated a large library of mostly unread books. I sold many of the books some years ago but lately I’ve been driving carloads over to the local library… makes me feel really good to donate them… but kind of sad when I think of the money that could have been better spent. I still have a good size library of art books and those are in my will! Now I only buy Kindle books and the deal is I have to finish one before I buy another… that plan almost works most of the time!! Hope you get to read all of yours….

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:08 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know what kind of unread books they were that make you sad to “think of the money that could have been better spent,” but my guess is that the money could also have been worse spent, so if you think of it that way, perhaps you would feel differently. In any case, I thank you for the comment and share your hope for my reading goal. ūüôā

      Like

      • RMW 9:38 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        At least the books have ended up in a good place at the library or a book sale to raise money for the library… so in that sense it isn’t sad… and yes, better than a gambling or drug addiction for sure! Happy reading!

        Like

    • mistermuse 7:00 am on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, and Happy Holidays to you.

      Like

    • mariasjostrand 6:48 am on February 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”
      ‚ÄďE. B. WHITE
      Loved this one ūüôāūüėÄ

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:23 pm on February 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I agree….and thanks for commenting!

      Like

    • Mary P 12:46 am on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      WHITE
      Loved this one ūüôāūüėÄ I always thought I was an optimist and, after reading that quote, I know for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, , , , Broadway, , , , HORSE FEATHERS, , , MONKEY BUSINESS, , , ,   

    GROUCHO AND M(US)E 

    Although it is generally known, I think it’s about time to announce that I was born at a very early age. –Groucho Marx, Chapter I, GROUCHO AND ME

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    As long-time readers of my blog know, I’m a big fan of Groucho Marx/The Marx Brothers, so it should come as no surprise that one of the first books I read from my used book sale haul (see previous post) was Groucho’s autobiography, GROUCHO AND ME. And who, you ask,¬†is the ME in that title? (Hint: it’s not me).¬†¬†It’s none other (says the back cover) than “a comparatively unknown Marx named Julius, who, under the nom de plume of Groucho, enjoyed a sensational career on Broadway and in Hollywood with such comedy classics as Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup [and]¬†A Night at the Opera.”

    Julius Groucho Marx (1895-1977)¬†wasn’t just¬†a comedian¬†— he was a wit who appreciated wit in others and¬†“Gratefully Dedicated This Book To These Six Masters Without Whose Wise and Witty Words My Life Would Have Been Even Duller: Robert Benchley /¬†George S. Kaufman /¬†Ring Lardner /¬†S. J. Perelman /¬†James Thurber /¬†E. B. White.”

    I already owned several Marx Brothers books (written by others) and¬†had at least a whit of an¬†impression of Groucho’s¬†r√©sum√© before¬†sinking my teeth into¬†this book….but there’s nothing like an autobio for¬†getting it straight from the Horse’s mouth (Feathers and all). At least, that’s what I thought until I got to page 11, where Groucho wrote:

    “This opus started out as an autobiography, but before I was aware of it, I realized it would be nothing of the kind. It is almost impossible to write a truthful autobiography. Maybe Proust, Gide and a few others did it, but most autobiographies take good care to conceal the author from the public.”

    Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. This is a different kettle of soup.¬†You pay¬†coal hard cash¬†for an autobiography,¬†and what do¬†you get? A¬†bit of¬†Cash back, another day older and deeper in debt.

    Well, two can play that game. This opus¬†began as a book review of¬†GROUCHO AND ME, but¬†Groucho’s bait-and-switch gives me¬†no¬†choice but¬†to turn it¬†into¬†a¬†GROUCHO AND me¬†thing (sorry, readers,¬†no refunds) by invoking the Sanity Clause in my contract….

    As I¬†started to¬†say before¬†me was so rudely interrupted,¬†you will have to be satisfied¬†with some¬†suitable quotes from Groucho’s book, which left me in stitches:

    My Pop was a tailor, and sometimes he made as much as $18 a week. But he was no ordinary tailor. His record as the most inept tailor that Yorkville ever produced has never been approached. This could even include parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx. The notion that Pop was a tailor was an opinion held only by him. To his customers he was known as “Misfit Sam.”

    They say that every man has a book in him. This is about as accurate as most generalizations. Take, for example, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man you-know-what.” Most wealthy people I know like to sleep late, and will fire the help if they are disturbed before three in the afternoon. You don’t see Marilyn Monroe getting up at six in the morning. The truth is, I don’t see Marilyn getting up at any hour, more’s the pity.

    Recognition didn’t come overnight in the old days. We bounced around for many years before we made it. We played towns I would refuse to be buried in today, even if the funeral were free and they tossed in a tombstone.

    After we hit the big time on Broadway, naturally our lives changed. Each member of the family reacted differently. Chico stopped going to poolrooms and started to patronize the more prosperous race tracks. After he got through with them, they were even more prosperous. Zeppo bought a forty-foot cruiser and tore up Long Island Sound as though to the manner born. Harpo, a shy and silent fellow, was taken up by the Algonquin crowd, at that time probably the most famous and brilliant conversational group in America. The quips flew thick, fast and deadly, and God help you if you were a dullard!

    I am not sure how I got to be a comedian or a comic. As a lad, I don’t remember knocking anyone over with my wit. I’m a pretty wary fellow, and have neither the desire nor the equipment to know¬†what makes one man funny to another man. My guess is that there aren’t a hundred top-flight professional comedians, male and female, in the whole world. But because we are laughed at, I don’t think people really understand how essential we are to their sanity. If it weren’t for the brief respite we give the world with our foolishness, the world would see mass suicide in numbers that compare with the death rate of the lemmings.

    And so (¬†just between Groucho and us)¬†it seems that¬†there is a Sanity Clause after all. ūüôā

     

     

     

     

     
    • D. Wallace Peach 10:50 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It sounds like an autobio to me, just seen through Groucho’s lens, which is shaded with humor. I get the impression that you enjoyed the book ūüôā

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 11:34 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I did indeed enjoy the book. I think Groucho made his autobio-denial with tongue in cheek — as he does with most of the anecdotes in his book, which makes his autobio much different than most I’ve read. And what’s not to like about making (in many instances) serious points with insightful wit!

      Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 4:22 pm on December 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad to say I’ve read every author on Groucho’s list, Sr. Muse.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:39 pm on December 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I shall take up your defense against anyone who ever accuses you of being listless, Ricardo.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 10:44 am on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Some people say this never happened and others say it was why he got kicked off TVr. But a little research showed he said it on the radio and they just cut it out before it was aired.

      Sounds real to me. But either way he was a classic.

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 11:42 am on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      In those days, even Groucho couldn’t get away with that one — classic though it was. Thanks for digging up that clip, Don.

      Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 7:18 pm on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sure am glad film was invented by the time Groucho came around.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:57 pm on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You said it! And so did the movies, in converting from silent to sound just as Groucho and his brothers came to Hollywood from Broadway in the late 1920s.

      Like

    • linnetmoss 7:15 am on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I adore Groucho! And S. J. Perelman too. Surprised to find that Wodehouse was not on his list ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:09 am on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’m surprised that Dorothy Parker wasn’t on his list, as Groucho seemed partial to members of the Algonquin Round Table (with which Harpo “was taken up by,” according to one of Groucho’s quotes) — she, Benchley, Kaufman and Lardner being ‘charter members.’ But Wodehouse spent much of his life in New York and Hollywood (as did the Marx Brothers), so I can only guess that P. G.’s humor was a bit too droll for Groucho’s taste.

      Like

    • restlessjo 2:10 am on December 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      We have a boxed set of the Marx Brothers. Thanks for reminding me ūüôā They used always to be on at Christmas. Wishing you a joyful time!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 7:42 am on December 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, and have a great Christmas!

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, anti-war films, armed forces, , , , Irving Thalberg, , Memorial Day, MGM, , , , THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, , war films   

    WAR AND WONDER BOY 

    At the risk of making this¬†a too-lengthy piece¬†(lengthy¬†peace, I’ll leave to¬†miracle workers) I am going to¬†blend a very¬†disparate¬†“double feature” into a two-for-the-price-of-one post….for today¬†is not only¬†Memorial Day, when America honors those killed in military service,¬†but it’s¬†the birthday of a man who literally¬†changed the¬†long-term¬†‘picture’¬†of¬†the Marx Brothers¬†after their¬†riotous¬†anti-war¬†film, the¬†anarchic classic, DUCK SOUP (1933).

    But first, for those who¬†are interested¬†and¬†may be unfamiliar with the¬†100+ years¬†history of war movies, I highly recommend taking time to¬†check out¬†this link for context: http://www.filmsite.org/warfilms.html (DUCK SOUP is listed under “Black Comedies”)

    I don’t¬†necessarily agree with a blogger¬†who¬†wrote, “As we all know, every good war film is [an] anti-war film” — though I think any war picture which doesn’t contain at least an element of “war is madness” (as in BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, below) is, at best, simplistic patriotism (e.g. John Wayne’s¬†GREEN BERETS; I’d add¬†Cagney’s YANKEE DOODLE DANDY,¬†but it’s¬†a rousing¬†glorification of a¬†man’s¬†patriotism, not¬†a war film).

    Back to that birthday man (Irving Thalberg), the film producer known¬†as “The Boy Wonder” for becoming head of production at MGM at age 26 and¬†turning it into the most successful studio in Hollywood during his reign (1925 until his death in 1936). Quoting Wikipedia, “He had the ability to combine quality with commercial success, and [to bring] his artistic aspirations in line with the demands of audiences.” Within this framework,¬†we can appreciate¬†this passage from¬†ROGER EBERT’s great book,¬†THE GREAT MOVIES:

    The Marx Brothers created a body of work in which individual films are like slices from the whole, but Duck Soup is probably the best. It represents a turning point in their movie work; it was their last film for Paramount. When it was a box office disappointment, they moved over to MGM, where production chief Irving Thalberg ordered their plots to find room for conventional romantic couples.
    A Night at the Opera (1935), their first MGM film, contains some of their best work, yes, but [also] sappy interludes involving Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones. In Duck Soup, there are no sequences I can skip; the movie is funny from beginning to end.

    This may not be one of the funniest sequences in DUCK SOUP, but it certainly makes for a glorious celebration of war as madness:

      

    As even the longest war must eventually come to an end, so too must¬†this Memorial Day¬†piece (de r√©sistance). Even so, it ain’t¬†over till the DUCK SOUP¬†fat lady sings: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xnec7z_freedonia-at-war-part-3-from-duck-soup-1933_shortfilms

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    P.S. The state of Ohio imprints the words¬†ARMED FORCES¬†on driver’s licenses¬†whose bearer is/was a member. The last time I went in to renew my license, the BMV clerk took a look and¬†thanked me for my service, which¬†took me by surprise¬†because my service is ancient history¬†and I’d¬†never been, or expected to be,¬†thanked. I¬†was a 1960 draftee who served during the so-called Cold War, not a volunteer¬†in the Civil War (or whatever¬†hot war¬†my¬†hoary appearance makes me look like¬†I served¬†in). But¬†I realize that a bullet or bomb doesn’t¬†care¬†if you’re a draftee or volunteer when it¬†takes you out, so to those who died in the¬†service of this country and its professed ideals¬†(and who had no choice as to whether or not¬†the war they were in was worthy of their sacrifice), I thank you.¬†You are the¬†ones¬†fate chose to earn¬†this day.

     

     

     
    • Cynthia Jobin 12:20 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I watched The Bridge on the River Kwai on TV’s Turner Classic Movies this weekend. I am always perplexed by the idea of what Plato called The Guardians…the need for them, the tragedy of their engagement, the seeming futility of trying to do anything differently. But it’s good to acknowledge the willing, and the brave, as we do, on this holiday; and I hope we also do, when it’s not a holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:46 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        On the same day BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI was on TCM, John Wayne’s best war movie, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, was on. To me, the title of that WW II film says it all: for those who die in even the most ‘noble’ and necessary of wars, there is a sense that (of necessity?) THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. (I put a question mark after necessity because too often, bad judgment and stupid decisions of superiors lead to the unnecessary loss of many lives.)

        Liked by 2 people

    • scifihammy 2:03 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A very good post. So much sacrifice and loss over all these years. Any movie that reminds us of this is a good movie.
      And how nice for you to be thanked after all this time. ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:58 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you. It was a nice gesture, though it was obvious that the BMV clerks were instructed to say “Thank you for your service” to all service members (past & present) who appear before them, and I doubt that, without that directive, they would’ve even noticed. Nonetheless, it gave me pause.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 6:51 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Muse I swear that in the opening sequence of We’re Going to War, one of the Generals is Sadam Huessein. Take a good look there.

      I think From Here to Eternity is a great movie and listed as a war movie although the war only comes in at the end. But it is not so much a war is madness but the army is madness and the war makes the army sane.

      You served and you went where they sent you like everyone else. In most of our wars only a small percentage of those serving wind up in combat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:23 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Don, that sequence goes by pretty fast, but from just a glance, it does indeed look like Sadam.
        I think there’s something to your statement about madness and war making the army sane….maybe something along the lines of “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

        Like

    • ladysighs 6:59 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Your posts are never too lengthy. Maybe too long, but never too lengthy. lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:27 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Ladysighs, I’m not so sure that doesn’t come under the heading of A DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE — nonetheless, I accept all accolades, regardless of length. ūüôā

        Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 7:53 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Duck Soup is a genius movie. I once saw it on a big screen! Just the name Rufus T. Firefly cracks me up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:34 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        DUCK SOUP is indeed a genius movie. The fact that it was a box office disappointment probably shows that it was ahead of its time, though 1933 was the height of the Great Depression and many people couldn’t afford necessities, much less movies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • linnetmoss 9:35 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink

          These ones for the ages often fall flat in their own time. Moby Dick (the novel) comes to mind.

          Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 10:10 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hail Freedonia! And hail to you as well, Sr. Muse, on this Memorial Day, for being a veteran in more ways than one.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 10:52 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Muse I read the book and the book lays it out with more detail. The Company where Prewitt/Montgomery Cliff is revolves around boxing. Boxers make up all the Non-commissioned officers as that is their reward for boxing. Most of them are incompetent and the Company is dysfunctional. After Pearl Harbor the Company has to gear up for the war and the Boxers are demoted and the Company begins to function. It is one of the many ironic subtleties that make it a great book.

      Like

    • mistermuse 1:08 pm on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don. I’ve never read the book, and it’s been a while since I saw the movie. I think it’s on TCM now and then, so I’ll try to keep an eye open for it.

      Like

    • mistermuse 5:08 pm on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know anyone who would disagree, Michaeline (but too many other people don’t seem to give a damn).

      Like

    • D. Wallace Peach 10:54 am on May 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve never watched Duck Soup (clearly, I should). I’ve seen a number of war movies, and they always leave me terribly melancholy. I think about the real wars and the irreplaceable lives lost, all those hopes and possibilities gone forever for the service men and women and the people who love them. As a grief counselor, I worked with little kids who lost parents in Iraq. I hate the politicians to toss lives into war without a thought about the true cost. I think the best way to honor the dead is to try our darnedest to make sure that war is the very last resort. Thank you for your service ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 11:36 am on May 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Diana. In a certain sense, it’s misleading to call Duck Soup a war movie because it’s the ultimate ANTI-war movie. No other film (that I’m aware of) subjects the glory of war to such manic ridicule….so I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. And THANK YOU for your work as a grief counselor.

      Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 7:31 am on June 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      wow love that Marx bros number, excellent ūüôā

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 7:00 am on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, , , , , HAIL HAIL FREDONIA, , ,   

    STRAIGHT WOMAN, WITH CHASER 

    Today marks (or should I say, Marx) the 133rd birthday of my favorite comedic character actress of all time — a woman so well preserved that she doesn’t look a day over 1933, when she appeared as Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, or 1935, as Mrs. Claypool….not to mention 1929 (Mrs. Potter), 1930 (Mrs. Rittenhouse), 1937 (Emily Upjohn), 1939 (Suzanne Dukesberry), or 1941 (Martha Phelps).

    Yes, thanks to that most wondrous of preservatives called celluloid, those larger-than-life ladies, played by and¬†fka (forever known as) the¬†wonderful Margaret Dumont,¬†live on in blessed memory in two of the funniest films ever made: DUCK SOUP (1933) and A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)….as well as in such¬†other Marx Brothers mayhem¬†as THE COCOANUTS (1929), ANIMAL CRACKERS (1930), A DAY AT THE RACES (1937), AT THE CIRCUS (1939), and THE BIG STORE (1941).

    “Who was Margaret Dumont?”¬†asks Roy Blount Jr. in his book HAIL, HAIL EUPHORIA! Presenting THE MARX BROTHERS IN DUCK SOUP,¬†THE GREATEST¬†WAR MOVIE EVER MADE. “From the book Hello, I Must Be Going by Charlotte Chandler, I got the impression that she grew up in Atlanta in the home of her godfather, Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus stories. Even though a descendant of Harris assured me that this wasn’t true, I want to believe it because I like to imagine B’rer Rabbit and Margaret Dumont doing a scene together.”

    “But no. Margaret Dumont was born Daisy Baker in Brooklyn, New York, in 1882. Her father was an Irish seaman, her mother a French vocalist.¬†Daisy became a showgirl. In 1915 she married an heir to a sugar fortune. In 1918 he died. She was presumably not left as well off as Mrs. Teasdale [Groucho’s¬† straight woman in DUCK SOUP]¬†because she went right back to work.”

    Which brings us to¬†the reel Margaret Dumont, the indispensable straight woman/comedic foil to¬†Groucho’s lecherous leerings who (quoting Wikipedia) “played wealthy high-society, posh-voiced widows whom Groucho alternately insulted and romanced for their money.” Never has an actress been more perfectly typecast….as evidenced by these scenes:

    HAIL, HAIL EUPHORIA is, of course, a play on HAIL, HAIL FREDONIA, Fredonia’s satirical national anthem in DUCK SOUP, with¬†Groucho as Rufus T. Firefly and Margaret as Mrs. Teasdale:

    HAIL, HAIL MARGARET DUMONT! RIP.

     

     

     
    • arekhill1 8:32 am on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The Marx Brothers, along with Monty Python, helped me overcome an enjoyable but time-consuming habit of getting stoned every day in my youth. When I realized I had memorized the punchlines in all of them, I quit.

      Like

    • mistermuse 9:04 am on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      HAIL, HAIL THE MARX BROTHERS AND MONTY PYTHON!

      Like

    • Joseph Nebus 12:56 am on October 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It really isn’t until you see the Marx Brothers movies with someone else trying to play the Margaret Dumont character that you realize how excellent she was in the part.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:43 am on October 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      HAIL, HAIL JOSEPH NEBUS!

      Like

    • Don Frankel 5:15 pm on October 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Amazing how these type of films are done all the time and most of them forgotten but these live.

      Like

    • mistermuse 5:59 pm on October 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The great comedy stars (Chaplin, Fields, Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, Marx Brothers) stand the test of time, but so do the great character actors like Margaret Dumont, the great writers, and the great directors like Leo McCarey, who directed DUCK SOUP. Put them together and they make MAGIC!

      Like

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