Today! Because I really am a horse doctor, but marry me, and I’ll never look at another horse –
A Day at the Races (1937)
Directed by Sam Wood
Starring Groucho Marx (x3), Harpo Marx (x3), Chico Marx (x3), Allan Jones, Maureen O’Sullivan (x2), Margaret Dumont (x2), Sig Ruman (x3), Esther Muir, Douglass Dumbrille, Dorothy Dandridge, Leonard Ceeley
The last really good Marx Brothers movie (and even that is up for some debate), A Day at the Races functions as a solid last gasp for the team, even though they couldn’t have known it when production began. Like on A Night at the Opera two years earlier, they had the benefit of road testing some of the material, to get the jokes down solid and the timing together to hold for laughs. They had the enthusiasm and support of MGM boss Irving Thalberg, who threw them the money and resources to make this work, and got the film launched before cameras in the fall of ’36.
For two years, they were quite the team
Today! Because I’ve got a waiting list of fifty people at that cemetery just dying to get in. But I like you and I’m gonna shove you in ahead of all of them –
The Cocoanuts (1929)
Directed by Robert Florey and Joseph Santley
Starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont, Oscar Shaw, Mary Eaton, Cyril Ring, Kay Francis
The second oldest movie on this list, The Cocoanuts comes off as the worst, physically, due to the limitations of 1929 filmmaking. The advent of sound two years before afforded the Marx Brothers the chance to jump into motion pictures – too much of their comedy is wordplay to have functioned well in silents (And yet, their early lost silent short Humor Risk continues to fascinate with possibilities – if you’re harboring a copy, speak up!). However, the microphones in ’29 weren’t the greatest, so the movie does have an overall rickety feel that can be a bit distracting. Sopping wet papers are visible throughout the film, to dampen the crinkling being picked up by their super sensitive equipment, but that doesn’t help the other violent static and unintentional footstepping picked up. Also, technically, there is no known complete version of the film – what exists is a somewhat cobbled together assemblage of footage that runs fully seven minutes shorter than the purported original release.
There is still plenty of classic Marx Brothering going on
Today! Because I was going to thrash them within an inch of their lives, but I didn’t have a tape measure –
Go West (1940)
Directed by Edward Buzzell
Starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, John Carroll, Robert Barrat, Diana Lewis, Walter Woolf King, June MacCloy
And then there are movies that, on the surface, are little more than trifles, and yet they have the ability to change your life forever. Movies so monumental in opening you up to new possibilities and avenues that the course of your interests is irrevocably altered from that point on. These come along very rarely – you can’t have your world shook to its foundation every week – but in early high school, on accident, I set the VCR to record something, and woke up the next day to find the first hour of Go West, and nothing has ever really been the same for me.
Sure, I was already way into comedies at this point. Mostly television, but also a lot of recent popular film that everyone would see in middle school. And then I discovered the Marx Brothers, and all of a sudden the scope of film comedy opened way, way up. There actually were funny movies before Airplane! and Mel Brooks! Go West was made in 1940, and it’s like the eighth best Marx Brothers movie! My mind was blown, and I became a die hard Marx fan basically that day. Continue reading
Since its inception the Death Pool has been one of the world’s most popular sporting events. Celebrity deaths are as much a staple of sporting life in history as the discus, the marathon, and the New Orleans Hornets. They have the ability to bring people together in sorrow, but also in thrilling elation when your team grabs the points for a recent corpse and contends for the DPE championship trophy, the Tin Mickey cup. There are have been controversies (Team Baguette owner Charles Guiteau assassinating President Garfield in 1881 comes to mind), but by and large the DPE has been riveting, enthralling, wholesome entertainment.
Some of the most memorable moments in Pool history are reminisced over and argued about from generation to generation, at Christmas dinner, over a pint at the pub, in the bleachers at team stadiums around the globe, and everywhere in between. Let’s look at some of those unforgettable moments and match ups now, shall we? Continue reading