108 Alan Partridge
1 1O Kylie, Holly, Britney
1 12 Beyond Good and Evil
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THE MARX BROTHERS COLLECTION (U) 312min Illnaxorszr. [)Vl) ((ilill.
‘Well, that covers a lot of ground . . . Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself. You’d better beat it. I hear they’re going to tear you down and put up an office building where you’re standing. You can leave in a taxi. If you can’t get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that’s too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. You know, you haven’t stopped talking since I came here? You must’ve been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.’
Rufus T Firefly (Groucho Marx) in Duck Soup.
1 13 Historias Minimus
1 1 5 Chocolatiers
Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo and Gummo were five brothers, the children of educated, once nomadic Jews who had settled for the east coast of America. Before they were at an age to develop stage nerves these boys were working on an opening stage act for the ‘Almond and Raison’ crowd in what pre-WW1 anti-Semitic US bigots used to call the ‘Jewdevilles’. Gummo and Zeppo eventually fell out of the act, unable to keep up with the mindless anarchy of Chico, Harpo and Groucho. The boys became men and their stage routines were expanded into full length movies, and American comedy for a brief moment became more influential than Jesus, more influential even than Rufus T Firefly, the appointed president of Freedonia, even.
If the truth be told the Marx Brothers comic‘ profile at the time that these films were released (1930—33) was actually pretty minor. Minority audiences (mostly lower middle-class pseudo intellectuals) loved them, but it was to take many
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1 18 European Top 20
See Christmas special on p16
128 Janet Ellis, John Fardell
GROUCHO HAD A HANDLE ON SOME OF THE MOST PUNTASTIC COMIC LINES EVER WRITTEN
years for the enormous extent of the Marx Brothers effect on comedy writing and performance to really take hold.
This rare chance to see their first four films in one set offers up an opportunity to convulse yourself silly with laughter or, as Rufus T might put it: ‘Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons and necking in the park.’
Animal Crackers (0000 ) was the brothers’ second film. They already had their schtick down pat thanks to years on the boards and a previous (fairly inept) feature called Cocoanuts (1929). The set up is simple (and it remained true for all their films): Chico was a wise guy Italian small time thief, Harpo was the harp playing slapstick mute and Groucho was an immoral rake with a handle on some of the finest, funniest, most puntastic lines of comic dialogue ever written. Here Groucho is Captain Spaulding the explorer who, along with Harpo and Chico, infiltrates a society party and becomes involved in shifting a stolen painting.
Monkey Business (0000 ) sees the brothers as a ship’s stowaways in a powerful satire of America at the height of the depression. It was their first screen original (ie not adapted from the theatre) and it was the first of many collaborations with the great comic writer SJ Perlman.
From 1932 Horse Feathers (0000 ) was a superb biting silly pre-Frat house comedy of academia in all its absurdity, yet it is Duck Soup (OOOOOMhat will undoubtedly stand the test of time: a film about war, patriotism, religion and bitter contractual disagreements with the producing studio Paramount, it is an irreverent masterpiece and worth the price of this box set alone. Extras on all four films are, however, woefully minimal. (Paul Dale)
‘\ " THE LIST 107