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  • mistermuse 12:06 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , DUCK SOUP, , , , , , Margaret Hamilton, Marjorie Main, , , Wicked Witch,   

    HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE: THE GRAMMAR GIRLS 

    Speaking of distinctive actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age, we turn from glamour girls (in my previous post) to a group of gals who made up in individuality what they lacked in allure. There were perhaps no actresses more unique and unforgettable in any category than the so-called character actors. Bring up such names as Margaret Hamilton, Marjorie Main, and Margaret Dumont (apart from their photos) to any classic film buff, and there’d be no problem matching which name belongs with which (or witch) face; same with their immediately recognizable voices. In a manner of speaking, they were vocal gold.

    BTW, I have something in common with That Hamilton Woman. Like my wife, she was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was once a teacher….but unlike my wife, she was unlike my wife (and vice versa….or is it verse vica).

    Character actresses may not be leading ladies, but there’s one who was always the Main attraction :

    My last post started with a birthday girl; this post ends with one….and what a one: Margaret Dumont (born Oct. 20, 1882), the gloriously inimitable foil of Groucho in nine of the Marx Brothers’ thirteen films, as typified by the following story.

    In a play in which she played Mrs. Rittenhouse (and which was later made into an early Marx Brothers film), the brothers abandoned the script during one performance and began improvising scene after scene….from here, I quote from the book THE MARX BROTHERS AT THE MOVIES:

    After some time she decided to take her chances and enter in the middle of it all. At that moment, Chico and Harpo simply walked off the stage, leaving the great dowager face-to-face with Groucho. So Groucho, with his characteristic speed of mind, gestured to a nearby divan. “Ah, Mrs. Rittenhouse,” he proclaimed. “Won’t you…er…lie down?” It had gotten a laugh on Broadway, so the brothers simply took it with them when they traveled to the Astoria studio [to make movies].

    There’s a scene in my favorite Marx Brothers movie, DUCK SOUP, in which Dumont’s character addresses Groucho’s character, Rufus T. Firefly, President of Fredonia, as “Your Excellency!”…to which he replies, “You’re not so bad yourself.”
    To which I can but add, You Bet Your Life!

     
    • calmkate 3:46 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      great history lesson, thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 8:12 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Kate. The title of the post is admittedly a bit of a stretch, but I couldn’t resist the play on words with HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE: THE GLAMOUR GIRLS (the previous post).

        Liked by 2 people

    • Carmen 9:10 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I recognized ‚Äėthe witch with the green face‚Äô (one of our daughters always referred to her that way) but the other two were unknowns to me… Well, until I read the post! ūüôā

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 11:13 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Carmen, did you have to remind me how much older I am than you because Marjorie Main and Margaret Dumont were known to me, and unknown to you!!! Nonetheless, I forgive you, so here’s a short clip to give you a better idea of why I dig Dumont (note the “You’re not so bad yourself” remark at the end of the clip which relates to the end of my post):

        Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 9:33 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      A Marx Brothers movie without Dumont is a sad thing indeed…

      I did a piece on Kathleen Freeman, speaking of character actresses. She’s definitely one of my favorites…

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 11:31 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, masercot. I didn’t realize, until I checked, that Kathleen Freeman played (uncredited) the part of diction coach Phoebe Dinsmore in one of my fav musicals, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. Here’s a clip:

        Liked by 2 people

    • Elizabeth 5:52 pm on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Watching Groucho is one of my favorite childhood memories. I just loved when that duck came down. Great clips.

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 6:16 pm on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m glad you made the connection between the last four words of my post and the name of Groucho’s TV show. I watched it often back in the day.

        Liked by 2 people

    • mlrover 7:59 am on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      What a wonderful post! I loved all of these ladies and especially the vocal coach clip. Jean Hagen should have gotten an Oscar for the Lamont role.

      Liked by 3 people

    • mistermuse 8:30 am on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Absolutely! What a “character!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 11:53 am on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I love the old b&w films. Especially the Marx Bros. Margaret Dumont was priceless!

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 5:55 pm on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        The Marx Bros. without Margaret Dumont is like a comedian without a Trump card — except that Dumont is aces and Trump is a jack(ass).

        Liked by 2 people

    • Silver Screenings 11:30 pm on November 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful tributes to all these women. I’m so pleased to see these women made the list, especially Marjorie Main. She is one of my all-time faves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:11 am on November 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Marjorie appeared in over 80 films, including some of my favorites, such as MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE HARVEY GIRLS, and FRIENDLY PERSUASION. Truly a wonderful character actress.

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Broadway, DUCK SOUP, , , 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: , anti-war films, armed forces, DUCK SOUP, , , 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

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    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: , , DUCK SOUP, , , 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

  • mistermuse 9:21 pm on October 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Charles Laughton, DUCK SOUP, films, Gary Cooper, , , , ,   

    ONE MORE TIME 

    A year ago today, I noted the birthday of one of my favorite directors, a man whose best films you can’t forget¬†(unless, of course,¬†you’ve never¬†seen them) —¬†even if you don’t remember who directed them. At the time, I’d just resurrected¬†this blog¬†after a bad experience blogging for another site, so the “theater” for that October 3rd¬†screening was all but empty. I am therefore going to do a remake, beginning with the question, Who was that man who¬†directed¬†those movies, including¬†the Marx Brothers’ DUCK SOUP? Here’s another clue: his first name is Thomas.

    OK, I doubt that last¬†clue was helpful, as he didn’t go by Thomas. His full name was Thomas Leo McCarey, and here is a clip from DUCK SOUP (1933):

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here are some other goodies McCarey directed and/or wrote:

    THE COWBOY AND THE LADY (1938) – Romantic comedy starring Gary Cooper
    THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937) – Academy Award winner for Best Director
    MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) – “One of the most exquisitely sad motion pictures¬†ever made” -Robert Moses
    RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935) – One of McCarey’s best comedies. Charles Laughton did it (starred as the butler)
    BELLE OF THE NINETIES (1934) – A Mae West classic, despite heavy cutting by censors
    SIX OF A KIND (1934) – Cast includes W. C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen and Charles Ruggles. Need I say more?

     
  • mistermuse 6:42 am on January 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , DUCK SOUP, , George Orwel, , , , , Lewis Carol, noms de plume, , Rufus T. Firefly, , , ,   

    OLD BUSINESS 

    Rufus T. Firefly: And now, members of the Cabinet — we’ll take up old business.
    Mistermuse: I wish to discuss my previous post, GNOME DE PLUME.
    Firefly: Sit down. That’s new business. No old business? Very well — then we’ll take up new business.
    Mistermuse: Now, about GNOME DE PLUME.
    Firefly: Too late. That’s old business already. Sit down.

    ********************************************************************************

    Old business or not, I owe it to my royal leaders — I mean my loyal readers — to give them the correct answers to the quiz in my last post, and I’m no longer going to leave them (my loyal¬†readers)¬†hanging, which is too good for ’em¬† anyway (my royal leaders, that is) . Besides, I have no new business to write about, so it’s either this or nothing (and no, you don’t¬†get to¬†choose). So sit back, have a nice bowl of hot Duck Soup, and enjoy seeing how many of the following noms de plume you didn’t get right, you ignorant Sylvanians!

    ARTEMUS WARD / Charles Farrar Browne
    GEORGE SAND / Aurore Dupin
    GEORGE ELIOT / Mary Anne Evans
    LEWIS CARROLL / Charles Dodgson
    SYLVIA PLATH / Victoria Lucas

    GEORGE ORWELL / Eric Blair
    ISAK DINESEN / Karen Blixen
    ANATOLE FRANCE / Jacques Anatole Thibault
    SIDNEY SHELDON / Sidney Schechtel
    O. HENRY / William Sydney Porter

    ANNE RICE / Howard Allen Frances O’Brien
    AYN RAND / Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum
    C. S. FORESTER / Cecil Smith
    VOLTAIRE / Francois Marie Arouet
    DANIEL DEFOE / Daniel Foe

    Hail, hail Fredonia!

     
  • mistermuse 10:25 am on October 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: BELLE OF THE NINETIES, , DUCK SOUP, , LOVE AFFAIR, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW, RUGGLES OF RED GAP, SIX OF A KIND, THE AWFUL TRUTH   

    DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS NAME? 

    LEO McCAREY.

    If¬†you’re not¬†a classic movie buff, you probably¬†didn’t recognize that name (and¬†therefore may not¬†be interested in reading further). I bring up¬†the name of Leo McCarey¬†because today is his birthday (born Oct. 3, 1898), and he deserves to be remembered, at the very least,¬†for the great movies¬†he directed (and, in some cases, also¬†wrote and/or produced)¬†during Hollywood’s “Golden Age”¬†— including¬†these:

    DUCK SOUP (1933) – not only one of the Marx Brothers best, but one of the best, comedies of all time.

    SIX OF A KIND (1934) – with a cast including W, C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen and Charlie Ruggles, how could this not be great?

    BELLE OF THE NINETIES (1934) – a Mae West classic.

    RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935) – one of McCarey’s lesser known films, but one of his very best. Charles Laughton did it (starred as a butler).

    MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) –¬†speaking of lesser known McCarey films, this one probably takes the cake. A departure from his previous run of comedies but just as well done, and a personal favorite of mine.

    THE AWFUL TRUTH  (1937) Рscrewball comedy starring Cary Grant; McCarey won Academy Award for Best Director. Enough said.

    LOVE AFFAIR (1939) – Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer (quoting film critic Leonard Maltin) “are a marvelous match” in a “superior comedy-drama.” Remade twice (including once by McCarey) but, as is usually the case with remakes, not up to the original.

    After the 1930s, McCarey continued to make movies into the 1960s, but in my opinion, never again with the magic of the above films. But what a glorious run he had while it lasted.

     
    • K.J. Ulsh 4:46 am on October 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Nice to see you up and running. By the way, Oct 3rd is my birthday. How odd is it that, your first post on a birthday salute. Keep it up Muse.

      Like

      • mistermuse 2:32 pm on October 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Happy Birthday a day late, K.J. – and welcome to my first post which would’ve been on SWI, if not for having been not only blindsided, but effectively back-stabbed. At least, that was the end result, even if I just “happened” to be the primary victim, which seems to be the case. In my opinion, Bob Grant was the first one blindsided (by HostGator), but instead of instead of insisting on time to remove posts in an orderly, thought-out and fairer way, he capitulated, panicked and deleted in a way that was the complete opposite. Why all of a sudden the big rush, when obviously site capacity had been approaching for days, if not weeks? Sad.

        Like

        • K.J. Ulsh 3:27 pm on October 4, 2013 Permalink

          Murray Banks wrote a piece called “Stop The World- I Want To Get Off”. It got me through some difficult times as a youth when I had dilemmas I could not comprehend nor control. I have not read it in 20 odd years, maybe I should dig it up in my attic. I only mention it because I just thought of it as I read your reply….for some reason. Maybe it was rushing to conclusions as we did, but a very sketchy scenario no doubt in that world, hence, we got off the ride…for now.

          Like

        • mistermuse 4:57 pm on October 4, 2013 Permalink

          Back in the 1960s, there was a Broadway show and movie musical of that same name (I happen to own the original cast LP) starring Anthony Newley. You may heard the hit song from the show, “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” Probably no connection with the Murray Banks piece, except the show/movie may be where he got his title from. I’ll try to check it out before the world stops.

          Like

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