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This was a short documentary of the Marx Brothers and their activities surrounding filming of A Day at the Races. Among the interviewed: Carl Reiner, Dom DeLuise, former SNL writer Anne Beatts, comedy writer Larry Gelbart, TCM host Robert Osborne, Marx Brothers writer Irving Brecher, and, in archival footage, Races co-star Maureen O'Sullivan. They all talk about the impact Groucho, Chico, and Harpo had on comedy and the world in general. One of the most interesting contrasts here is the pronunciation of Chico: many pronounce it Chee-ko since the actor often played Italian-accented characters but his brothers and many of his contemporaries say it as Chick-o since he also had a reputation of chasing "chicks" ("girls" for those not familiar with the slang term). Also explored here are the "Tootsie-Fruitsie" scene, Margaret Dumont, Chico's piano, Harpo's harp, Groucho's insults, director Sam Wood, producer Irving Thalberg and the impact of his death in the middle of production, and MGM head Louis B. Mayer and Groucho's dislike of him. All interesting subjects to explore and watch before or after watching A Day at the Races. This particular short was on the movie's DVD along with the trailer and other extras.
This documentary has an appropriate beginning, showing a number of
people reciting one adjective apiece to describe the Marx Brothers. I
don't have to repeat them here; you know what people are going to say -
mostly things like "zany." I liked what Carl Reiner said: "our court
jesters." Yup, for years - especially in the 1930s with films like "A
Day At The Races," the Marx Brothers were America's court jesters.
In this half hour collection of comments and scenes from the MB films, we learn about these famous comedians and some of the reasons their movies were so likable. We learn how and why their stage careers helped them immensely in their films and how some of their best-known movies have similar characteristics. We learn what a key man Irving Thalberg was to their career and how much he was missed after his tragic death at the age of 37. Jack Warner replaced him and Groucho and the boys did not get along with him. When Thalberg died, in effect, so did excellent Marx Brothers films. They loved Thalberg but hated Mayer and director. (You'll have to see this to find out who!)
There are all kinds of stories in here about the boys, except for Zeppo who wasn't on film long with the other three. It was nice to see Margaret Dumont receive a tribute for her contributions and it was almost shocking to hear about Chico's exploits with the women. This guy got about every woman in Hollywood, it was said in here, which made Groucho - who also loved the women - very jealous. Speaking of women, we see Maureen O'Sullivan today talking about Groucho. It's always interesting to see what classic-era movie stars look like today and I give people like O'Sullivan credit for doing the interviews knowing she's an old lady now, not the glamor girl of the past. Her comments on rebuffing Groucho's advances were fun to hear.
If you're a Marx Brothers fan, this is a "must" bonus feature to watch. It can be viewed on "A Day At The Races"
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