Showing posts with label Marx Brothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marx Brothers. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017


   Wherein Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx) is an African explorer who returns from the wild, attends a gala, and tries with his brothers to retrieve a stolen painting from the palatial Mrs Rittenhouse. 

Sample rant: "Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know."

Animal Crackers (1930) was not the Marx Brothers' best movie (that would be either Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera), but it usually appears first alphabetically and so you owe it to yourself to at least watch it. Certainly you would not want to go through life without having heard "Hello, I Must Be Going" and "Hooray for Captain Spaulding." Groucho proves himself an amiable roustabout as well as quite the dancer. Harpo plays the harp, Chico knocks out a number on piano, and Zeppo plays the straight man. Based on the stage play by George S. Kaufman. 
   If you need another reason:

Capt. Spaulding: One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know. Then we tried to remove the tusks. The tusks. That's not so easy to say. Tusks. You try it some time.
Roscoe Chandler: Oh, simple: "tusks."
Capt. Spaulding: [shakes Chandler's hand] My name is Spaulding. I've always wanted to meet you, Mr. Chandler. As I say, we tried to remove the tusks. But they were embedded so firmly we couldn't budge them. Of course, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa, but that is entirely ir-elephant to what I was talking about.

   Directed by Victor Heerman.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


    The gang and I were watching A Night in Casablanca last night, the Marx Brothers film from 1946, the movie about which there was a fascinating but not altogether true story that Warner Bros, who had made the film Casablanca, attempted to force the Marx Brothers from calling their film what they called it because the studio claimed ownership of the key word. The not really true story went that Groucho Marx then fired off a letter to Warner Bros saying that his comedy team had been using the word "Brothers" longer than Warner had and that they should (a) stop using it, or at least (b) begin spelling it correctly. 
    The movie itself, though, while perhaps not the best effort ever put together by Groucho, Chico and Harpo, still had its share of laughs and the experience of watching these three geniuses got me to ruminating about how here in this country we have a long and noble tradition of hating Nazis, as well as other fascists. If I'm not mistaken, we were active participants in something called World War II from around about 1941 until 1945 and the stated purpose of that global conflict was to kick the shit out of fascism. Just because we lost that particular crusade (yes, I know we defeated the Axis Powers, but that doesn't mean we beat fascism), for years hence the people of the United States have had a strong tendency to oppose fascism because it was an elitist economic system that celebrated what its enthusiasts, such as Benito Mussolini, referred to as the "basic inequality" of human beings; because its various political manifestos encouraged the belief that the so-called Aryan race was superior to all others and that men were superior to women; because it embraced a world view that said the means were justified by the ends; and because of the willingness of its adherents to accept any kind of political behavior so long as they were able to remain psychologically and intellectually anesthetized from the racist barbarism that was its stock and trade. Yes, we were against the fascist philosophy, if it may be called such, and we were quite proud of that fact. And we were reasonably united as a country in our opposition to that disposition. In the movie Frances, recently celebrated here in Philropost, we saw all kinds of subliminal period signs proclaiming that Loose Lips Sink Ships and that we should turn off our headlights on the west coast. We rationed food and gasoline, copper and gold, and it seems that everyone knew somebody who was directly involved in the war effort to kill fascism.
    Whereas today the philosophy as practiced by Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Horthy, Antonescu, Filov, Pavelic and their ilk is considered, at least by some, to be just fine, as hunky dory, okey doke, and a viable alternative to democracy. 
    Since the end of World War II, fascist leaders and their not particularly affable followers have enjoyed their share of fortune. There was Juan Peron in Argentina, Luis Garcia Meza Tejada in Bolivia, Mario Sandoval Alcaron in Guatemala, Hsu Na-Chi in Taiwan, Nick Griffin in the United Kingdom, and the ideological cousins of Wesley Swift here in the United States. 
    Huey Long may or may not have said it, but when fascism comes to America (as it may have already done) it will come in the name of anti-fascism. 
    Since the last days of the second world war, the United States and some of its allies have been as much on the side of the founders of the Third Reich as any Romanian dictator ever was. Before he became Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles helped recruit Nazi generals into the western alliance as a presumed hedge against communism. Project Paperclip brought dozens of Nazi scientists to the United States to form what was then the fledgling enterprise known as NASA. And our Cold War philosophies have found the United States on the side of all manner of neo-fascist regimes from Iran to Nicaragua. 
    And now we are faced with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
    Whoa, hey. Didn't see that one coming, did you?
     From Alma 3: 6 "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men." Until 1978, black people could not join the Mormon Church. They were perceived to be the wicked descendants of Cain, whereas the whites of America were thought to be the inevitable sons and daughters of Seth. Yikes.
    I am not suggesting that because he is Mormon that Mitt Romney is a racist. I have no idea what his racial views are. I doubt if he even knows who Nelson Mandela is. However, his "I like firing people" stance and his recent selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate indicates that Willard is not particularly in love with poor people and it certainly screams out that he would be right at home with the elitist global view of real politik
    Yet there seems to be little outrage, at least from the arbiters of civilization in the media. It was not all that long ago that the Road Map to Ruin, or whatever the Ryan budget plan was called, was being dissected as that thing that would end Medicare and Social Security, and now, just a year later, the media seems all a-quiver with the widow's peak and the gym workouts that are more than a little reminiscent of the real popularity of Ronald Reagan. (My own blessed grandmother voted for Ronnie because, as she put it, he was so handsome.) People who did not know David Stockman and Milton Friedman from Maynard Keynes and Betty Friedan got themselves all hard and wet over the Gipper and his intellectual cravens, just as people are trying to do with Willard and Benito--I mean Ryan, just as they did with the attractive Barack Obama in 2008. Come one, you don't think Sarah Palin was on the GOP ticket for any other reason than her appearance, do you? Somebody had to get women thinking about something other than the joys of miscegenation. 
    I'd like to see some real ugly motherfucker run for President, someone from a major political party that actually has a chance. I'd like to see someone with the girth of Chris Christie and the face of Dan Boren run for President. Whatever happened to the good old days of fat and hideous-faced politicians like McArthur, Taft, Cleveland, McKinley (after whom a mountain was named, and for no other reason), or even Teddy Roosevelt? Come on, people! Fascists are supposed to be physically unsightly, like Oswald Mosley. That's why your rank and file skinhead is bald, tattooed and unshaven. If the people at the bottom know how to scare others with their physical hideousness, you'd think the leaders could do the same. 
    But then again, that might make them harder to love because with people like my dear old grandma not being able to focus on their superficial aspects, we might actually examine their hatefulness and run the bastards out of town. 

Friday, December 16, 2011


    Here are some very funny things that Groucho Marx said, or is believed to have said, or is reported to have said, or should have said, or would have said if only he'd been there. By the way, this is the most ridiculous blog I ever wrote.

Although it is generally known, I think it's about time to announce that I was born at a very early age.

No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.

Here's to our wives and girlfriends... may they never meet! 

From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.

They say [Woody] Allen got something from the Marx Brothers. He got nothing. Maybe twenty years ago, he might have been inspired. Today he's an original. The best, the funniest.

I got $25 from Reader's Digest last week for something I never said. I get credit all the time for things I never said. You know that line in You Bet Your Life? The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say: "I smoke a cigar, but I take it out of my mouth occasionally"? I never said that.

I did a bond tour during the Second World War... We were raising money, and we played Boston and Philadelphia and most of the big cities. And we got to Minneapolis. There wasn't any big theater to play there, so we did our show in a railroad station. Then I told the audience that I knew a girl in Minneapolis. She was also known in St.Paul, she used to come over to visit me. She was known as "The Tail Of Two Cities." I didn't sell any more bonds, but eh... they didn't allow me to appear anymore.

My experience is that people are most likely to listen to reason when in bed.

I don't have a photograph. I'd give you my footprints, but they're upstairs in my socks.

I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.

To write an autobiography of Groucho Marx would be as asinine as to read an autobiography of Groucho Marx.

Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don't anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you're always trying for a topper you aren't really listening. It ruins communication.

Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do!
I wish you'd keep my hands to yourself.

Marriage is the chief cause of divorce.

Ice Water? Get some onions - that'll make your eyes water!

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

A man's only as old as the woman he feels.

If you want to see a comic strip, you should see me in the shower.

Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.

Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.

As soon as I get through with you, you'll have a clear case for divorce and so will my wife.

Blood's not thicker than money.

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Don't point that beard at me, it might go off.

Don't look now, but there's one too many in this room and I think it's you.

Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot

How do you feel about women's rights ? I like either side of them.

I could dance with you till the cows come home, on second thought I'll dance with the cows till you come home.

I made a killing on Wall Street a few years ago...I shot my broker.

I married your mother because I wanted children, imagine my disappointment when you came along.

I wish to be cremated. One tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent, as written in our contract.

I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.

If I held you any closer I would be on the other side of you.

I've known and respected your husband for many years, and what's good enough for him is good enough for me.

Last night I shot an elephant in my Pajamas and how he got in my pajamas I'll never know.

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.

Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.

Marriage is a wonderful institution...but who wants to live in an institution?

Now there's a man with an open mind - you can feel the breeze from here!

Oh are you from Wales ?? Do you know a fella named Jonah ?? He used to live in whales for a while.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies.

Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse.

Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows, marriage does.

Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.

Remember men, you are fighting for this lady's honor; which is probably more than she ever did.

Say! You haven't stopped talking since we got here! You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle!

She got her good looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon.

She's afraid that if she leaves, she'll become the life of the party.

There's only one way to find out if a man is honest...ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook.

There's one thing I always wanted to do before I quit...retire!

Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.

Time wounds all heels.

The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.

We took pictures of the native girls, but they weren't developed. . . But we're going back next year.

Who are you going to believe, me or your lyin' eyes?

Whoever called it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?

Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse.

Why was I with her? She reminds me of you. In fact, she reminds me more of you than you do!

When discovered by his wife, kissing the maid, Groucho said "I was just whispering in her mouth".

Will you marry me? Do you have any money? Answer the second question first.

We in the industry know that behind every successful screenwriter stands a woman. And behind her stands his wife.

You know I could rent you out as a decoy for duck hunters?

You've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I'll bet he was glad to get rid of it.

Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.

Before I speak, I have something important to say.”

I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are.

I was going to thrash them within an inch of their lives, but I didn't have a tape measure.

I'll see you at the opera tonight. I'll hold your seat till you get there. After that, you're on your own.

You're a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you're out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are.

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.

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Monday, November 21, 2011


    The third thing going is often the most important and that is also why it should often be skipped. For example, let's look at playing piano. Most contemporary musicians do not play "thirds" or the third note or chord in a musical scale. When reading or playing a scale, the third note will be the first clue as to whether that scale is major or minor. Good pop musicians rarely play thirds because they are necessary for even half-way sophisticated tastes and also because they give away the game. 
    All the same, it occurs to me this bright and sultry autumn morning that some very nice things have been known--against all likelihood--to come in threes. Certain fits of logic, we could call them, follow this familiar pattern. Let's look, shall we?

    What are the signs that your teenager is using prescription drugs?
1. You have a teenager.
2. Prescription drugs are in your home.
3. Those prescription drugs never quite last until time for the next scheduled refill.
What is the power of politeness?
1. Be polite.
2. Be powerful.
3. Be both polite and powerful at the same time.
What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?
1. It used to be split personality.
2. Then it became Multiple Personality Disorder.
3. Now it has evolved into Dissociative Identity Disorder.
What are the bones in the human ear?
1. Incus
2. Malleus
3. Stapes
What were the names of the three Billy Goats Gruff?
1. The first Billy Goat Gruff
2. The second Billy Goat Gruff
3. The third Billy Goat Gruff

How many pieces are in that suit? How many sheets to the wind would I need to be to wear it? And how many times a lady is she?
Answer: Three. 
How many kittens have lost their mittens? What is the smallest number necessarily to constitute a crowd? What number do we tend to associate with the very nice landing of an airplane?
Answer: Three.
How many bags full did the Baa Baa Black Sheep possess? How many balls hang on a pawnbroker's sign? How many life lines do they give you on the TV show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
Answer: Three.
How many times must a lamb shake its tail in order to indicate a brief period of time? Back in the olden days, how many Gorgon sisters would you expect to see perched outside your front door on Halloween evening? How many people were in the group known as Peter, Paul and Mary?
Answer: Three.
How many names does Phil Mershon's current personal hero have to her credit and what are they?
Answer: Three. They are Jane Marie Lynch.