In 1960 Groucho Marx won wild plaudits from critics and viewers by entering classic comedy and appearing as the Lord High Executioner Koko in a special one hour version of Gilbert & Sullivan's THE MIKADO. It showed that potentially there was life in the old comic genius yet. Maybe - he never repeated the experiment with other Savoy Operas (he had become an expert on them all). Maybe he could have sought some other properties to try his talents on.
Instead, in four years, the inevitable slide began. First would come this dreadful piece of plastic dramaturgy that Groucho co-wrote with Norma Krasna (in 1948), and then his final movie part under (arguably) the last major film director (Otto Preminger) that he worked with (SKIDOO)(1969). Though he was welcomed for his insult humor, and as a grand old man of classic comedy, TIME FOR ELIZABETH and SKIDOO demonstrated he was also a tired old fart who should have just quit the scene.
Oddly being tired and an old fart are part of the plot of this play, Groucho's second play with Krasna after the dismal THE KING AND THE CHORUS GIRL. In TIME FOR ELIZABETH Groucho Marx is Ed Davis, a small time suburban businessman, who is considering how put upon he feels in his late 50s by his family, friends, and neighbors. While talking to an elderly friend (i.e. one in his 70s) he gets a piece of advice in which the friend says he and his wife had been reading some poetry, and at the conclusion of the last line looked at each other and both exclaimed "Time for Elizabeth". What this means (in the play) is that if you really feel like your life or toil and strain can't go further, take a tip and retire early to give attention to family (especially your spouse).
The joke of the plot is that Groucho does take this advice, only to find that everyone who has led him to distraction while he was working is equally leading him to distraction (if not more so) when he is not working - at home 90% of the time, and can't outrun them. His hope for "Time for Elizabeth" fades as one dumb crisis after another from a friend or family member or neighbor entangles him in problems he has no interest in. In the end he accepts the inevitable that you can't find perfect joy in unplanned retirement. But it is tedious getting there.
It also suffered by liberal use of a laugh track - a first for Groucho (unless his quiz show had one). I recall seeing this in April 1964, built up in the press. It was one dreary television hour.
I keep thinking it appeared on THE CHRYSLER THEATER due to the influence of Groucho's pal (and host/spokesman/occasional comedian on the shows) Bob Hope. If so, he did not have to do us such favors.
The last memorable Groucho moment on television did come about this time too - his final waltz with Margaret Dumont that was televised the week she died in 1965. That was memorable (the waltz was "MY NAME IS CAPTAIN SPAULDING"). It was memorable - but mercifully brief.
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