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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on November 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Algonquin Round Table, , , , , 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 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Algonquin Round Table, , , 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 4:55 pm on August 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Algonquin Round Table, , , ,   

    A LARK IN THE PARK-ER 

    Today, I’m in the mood to quote that great wit,¬†Dorothy Parker. Actually, I was in the mood to do so¬†yesterday (her birthday), but my computer wasn’t. No¬†big deal¬†—¬†¬†better great than never, I always¬†never¬†say.

    I’ve quoted Dorothy Parker (Aug. 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) on several occasions, including in a¬†Speak¬†Without Interruption¬†post of 6/7/12 titled DAYS OF THE ROUND TABLE, which, like yours truly,¬†has somehow¬†managed to¬†survive to this day. I also recall writing a related SWI article on the ALGONQUIN HOTEL/ROUND TABLE (the group which included Dorothy Parker), but I don’t¬†know if¬†it’s¬†survived. I haven’t the heart to search and find it missing.

    Anyway, for those interested, a Google search will reveal much more on the Algonquin, so without further ado, I give you Dorothy Parker:

    Asked to describe her Bucks County farm in two words: “Want it?”

    “That woman speaks eighteen languages and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.”

    “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”

    “You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.”

    “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

    “How can they tell?” – on hearing that Calvin (“Silent Cal”) Coolidge had died.

    Epitaphs she suggested at various times for her tombstone:

    EXCUSE MY DUST

    THIS IS ON ME

    WHEREVER SHE WENT, INCLUDING HERE, IT WAS AGAINST HER BETTER JUDGMENT

    One of the three made it. Care to guess which?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    • lawrencethorogood 5:02 pm on August 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I love your work. It would mean the world if you checked out my cartoons and to give your opinion? Thank you so much

      Like

      • mistermuse 7:33 pm on August 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Lawrence, thanks for the kind words. I’ll be glad to check out your site and comment there tomorrow, though there appears to be at least 50 years difference in our ages, so I may not be an appropriate “critic” for your cartoons.

        “See you” then.

        Like

    • arekhill1 5:12 pm on August 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t attempt to guess anything which can easily be Googled anymore, Sr. Muse, lest my vast store of native knowledge be questioned. My personal favorite quote from the late, great DP is “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.”

      Like

    • mistermuse 7:38 pm on August 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I also love that DP quote, Ricardo. As for the epitaph guess, I’ll save all my millions, if not billions, of readers the trouble of looking it up – the answer is EXCUSE MY DUST.

      Like

    • allthoughtswork 8:17 pm on August 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Google just told me I guessed right. I’m so awesome.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 5:04 am on August 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I knew I could google it but that would have ruined all the fun. I guessed door number 3 and I was wrong. Are there any parting gifts?

      “Beauty is only skin deep but ugly cuts to the bone.”

      Like

      • mistermuse 6:21 am on August 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Don, I gave you that Harry Carey Jr. book in anticipation of your guessing wrong here. I’m so clairvoyant!

        Like

    • Joseph Nebus 11:46 pm on January 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I keep feeling like I ought to read Dorothy Parker but somehow I’ve not found my way into any of her works.

      Like

    • mistermuse 7:48 am on January 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      For me, she was the undisputed queen of the quick-witted put-down. Example:

      As one who did not appreciate playing the celebrity, she once replied (when asked “Are you Dorothy Parker?”), “Yes, do you mind?”

      Like

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