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  • mistermuse 12:08 am on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Night at the Opera. Duck Soup, , , Margaret Dumont, , ,   


    As the curtain rises on Act IV, we pick up where we left off in Act III:

    We’ve come at long last to the denouement (aka the point in the presentation where it’s time to wrap up the plot before the popcorn runs out): Fiorello and Tomasso abduct and gag lead tenor Alasprairie during the onstage uproar and take him to a site out of sight, where he’s fit to be tied. Gottliebchen is in a bind: a replacement tenor is needed to quiet the affronted audience, as well as those seated in the rear. Ricardo Macaroni happens to be handy. Gottliebchen gives in. Ricardo and the lovely Rosa Grossa sing an aria. The audience is enthralled. Miraculously, everything has worked out in….

    THE END?

    But as we all know, it’s not the end until the fat lady sings — a requisite which is unaccountably missing in this opera. Fortunately for our fannies, the fat lady who doesn’t sing in this opera did sing to end this earlier opera, which will serve our purpose here:

    Now that’s what I call leaving on borrowed time.


    • mlrover 8:58 am on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I love that they aimed the fruit over her head. My favorite was always when Harpo played.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 10:56 am on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Harpo’s playing always provided just the right balance of “catch-our-breath” between what would otherwise have been non-stop zaniness — not to mention that his playing was excellent in itself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tubularsock 1:50 pm on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Tubularsock loved that as well and found it interesting how she showed such confidence they’d miss. Wonder how many times they had to run through that without a mistake hit.

        Liked by 2 people

        • mistermuse 9:23 pm on February 16, 2020 Permalink

          They did hit their initial target (Trentino) several times without noticeable effect before turning their attention to her, so I suspect that the “fruit” was made of something relatively soft (I was going to say foam rubber, but I checked and found that foam rubber wasn’t invented until 1937 — 3 years after DUCK SOUP was filmed). In any case, it does look like they missed her on purpose.

          Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 6:17 pm on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      The Marx Brothers were unequaled! Still just as funny today. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:43 pm on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Absolutely! And A NIGHT AT THE OPERA lends itself perfectly to being satirized like a soap opera. I can’t think of another film which could as easily “inspire” the writing of these posts.

        Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 8:22 am on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Just leave out the sanity clause next time…

      Liked by 1 person

    • JosieHolford 8:45 pm on February 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Not for nothing they were known as comic genius.

      Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 10:26 pm on February 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      love the Marx bros…the first Beatles. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:58 am on February 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I guess you could make that comparison, though I’ve never thought of the Beatles’ films in that way before.


  • mistermuse 12:03 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Margaret Dumont, ,   


    SCENE: Wherever
    TIME: Whenever


    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

    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.


    • 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


    • 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 😉

      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.


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

      Harpo’s performance left me speechless🙊
      But Groucho gets my vote, being a marxist😎

      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).


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

      the original Beatles. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

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


    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 ‘the witch with the green face’ (one of our daughters always referred to her that way) but the other two were unknowns to me… Well, until I read the post! 🙂

      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 April 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Billy Gilbert, , , , Grady Sutton, Hattie McDaniel, , , , Margaret Dumont, , , , ,   


    For some time, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to do a post on one-of-a-kind character actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age, most of them long forgotten except to old film buffs like myself. There are familiar exceptions, of course — non-starring actors who appeared in classic films which continue to be shown today, such as Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ) and Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet (Ugarte/Joel Cairo and the fat man, respectively, in CASABLANCA and THE MALTESE FALCON). But today I want to focus on the rule, not the well-remembered exceptions.

    It was while researching April 5th birthdays for notables born on this date (and finding the likes of Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis and Gregory Peck) that I saw among them a long forgotten character actor whose name (Grady Sutton, born 4/5/1906) rang a bell….so I decided to do such a post today and include him among those I pay tribute to. To make it a bit (player) more interesting, I’ll list six names, followed by clips (not in the same order) of scenes in which they separately appear. Can you spot one of the six in each clip?

    1. Eric Blore
    2. Margaret Dumont
    3. James Finlayson
    4. Billy Gilbert
    5. Hattie McDaniel
    6. Grady Sutton







    How many could you identify? Hint: the names match the clips in reverse order; e.g.,
    1. Eric Blore is the British valet being “summoned” in “f.” For more on Blore, click here:
    Eric Blore: What a Character!

    2. Margaret Dumont (clip “e”) should pose no recognition problem for Marx Brothers fans. For those who aren’t Marxists, mark this: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0241669/bio

    3. James Finlayson (clip “d”) should pose no recognition problem for Laurel & Hardy fans. When you can’t imagine any other actor in his L & H roles, you know he was truly unique: http://www.wayoutwest.org/finlayson/

    4. Billy Gilbert is the man (Pettibone) in the middle in this clip (“c”) from HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940). Like Finlayson and Dumont, another one-of-a-kinder: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0317970/

    5. Hattie McDaniel (clip “b”) plays Aunt Tempy and sings “Sooner or Later” opposite James Baskett (as Uncle Remus) in this scene from Walt Disney’s SONG OF THE SOUTH (1946). Best known role: Mammy, in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939): http://www.biography.com/people/hattie-mcdaniel-38433

    6. Grady Sutton (clip “a”) plays new assistant (Chester) to W.C. Fields in this scene from YOU CAN’T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1939). He was also a Fields foil in MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE (1935) and THE BANK DICK (1940).

    Yes, my friends, there were great character actors in the land of make-believe in those days. If some were but “bit” players, they made their small parts singularly indispensable. We shall not see their like again.

    • Don Frankel 7:39 am on April 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You know I was thinking Hattie McDaniel is well known. I mean she has an Academy Award and she had her own TV show… and then I realized, no I’m just old enough to remember. But these are those great actors that would pop up in all those old movies and they were very believable in all their roles.

      There’s another actor in the Billy Gilbert clip and wasn’t he the Judge in Miracle on 34th Street?


      • mistermuse 9:43 am on April 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Don, you’re right about the Judge in Miracle on 34th Street being the same actor (Gene Lockhart) as the sheriff (the man with no hat) in the Billy Gilbert clip. Lockhart appeared in many films and was interesting in his own right, but Gilbert and the other guy in that clip (Clarence Kolb) steal the scene. Their fast-paced exchange, especially in the last 20 seconds or so of the clip, is hilarious.


    • arekhill1 9:22 am on April 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll just take my “F,” please.


      • mistermuse 10:00 am on April 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        In my classroom, you get an “A” just for showing up (or, if you prefer, an “a” for “arekhill1”). You also deserve an “A” for Attendance (as in perfect attendance).


    • Mél@nie 1:53 am on April 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      wonderful and emotional tribute to those non-starring actors of several classic films(“films-culte in French!) – we call them “personnages secondaires”(secondary roles)… they play small parts, but most of the times they’re great actors who have contributed to the success of the film…

      • * *

      I’ve seen all these movies, but I must have watched “Casablanca” 4-5 times, and I’ve never been tired of it!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:12 am on April 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        For those of us who either grew up with, or later came to appreciate, those old movies and the essential part the non-starring actors played in them, we know the part they have played in making our lives richer. Vive le Casablanca and all the rest! 🙂


    • linnetmoss 6:36 am on April 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I love Erik Blore, whom I know from the Astaire-Rogers films. Another brilliant comic actor along these lines is Erik Rhodes (“Your wife is safe with Tonetti! He prefer spaghetti!”)

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:21 am on April 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Coincidentally, I was going to include Erik Rhodes in my “cast of characters,” but decided to limit the number to six in order to keep the post to a reasonable (however arbitrary that may be) length. Rhodes was absolutely wonderful in that role, and I well remember the lines you quote!


    • RMW 11:33 pm on April 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “Character” actors make a very good living without all the hassles of being “stars.” If I had another life to live that is one of the careers I think would be very satisfying to me. Would not want to be a “star” for any amount of money.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:41 am on April 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I agree. A few of the stars in the old days (like Greta Garbo) sought to be virtual recluses outside the studios, but I’m sure even trying to avoid the spotlight was a hassle.

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 7:00 am on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , HAIL HAIL FREDONIA, , Margaret Dumont,   


    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:




    • 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.


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



    • 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



    • 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.


    • 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!


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