This is bittersweet footage of Groucho's first two children (Arthur and Miriam) and himself with his first wife Ruth, taken in 1933 outside their California home. The two children leave for school, kissing their mother goodbye and waving to her as they skip away. Then Groucho leaves the house, sans mustache, but smoking his cigar and tries to kiss his wife twice, once with the cigar and the second time without, but their lips do not touch (on purpose?). Ruth stays behind and Groucho skips along like he is going to school too. He and the children take off for their day leaving wife Ruth to tend the home. Then we cut to a picture of the 4 of them mugging for the camera.
You notice a few things -- there was a lot of empty space around Groucho's home. Lots of palm trees. This was filmed before CA was very developed, obviously; it must have seemed a paradise back then. I'll bet that street is a jungle of homes and cars today! There was no gate around Groucho's home, no security. Anyone could just walk up to the house from the sidewalk and knock on the door; the house was not fancy, not a mansion; they might not even have owned a car.
Also I thought Ruth his first wife was very pretty and natural looking. She smiled broadly and laughed at Groucho, which belies what the grown up Arthur said about his mother in the documentary Marx Brothers In A Nutshell. He said she had no sense of humor where their father was concerned. Judging by these home movies he was flat out wrong! But who knows what really goes on between two people in a marriage? Groucho would go on to have other wives and another daughter, Melinda, but this time capsule is a charming moment which shows a happy home life in 1933. Whether this was reality, who knows? but it could have been taken at a happier time for the marriage.
Preserved by the Smithsonian and available on the Treasures of the American Film Archives box set.
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