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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:11 pm 
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If anyone is curious about the Marx brothers standing the test of time, this LA Times article

Quote:
The Marx Brothers were once embraced by college students. What would today’s more politically correct generation make of their films? And what would Groucho and company think of so-called safe spaces? Whether it be high society, a college campus or the fields of war, the Marx Brothers proved time and again that nothing was safe from them.

Mark Caro, a Chicago-based entertainment journalist recently featured “Duck Soup” in his monthly film screening series, “Is It Still Funny?” Playing with such as “Animal House,” “Blazing Saddles” and “There’s Something About Mary,” it scored the highest audience rating at its sold out screening.


So there is hope.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:16 am 
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Maybe that reflects the fact that the implicit assumptions in the quoted paragraph about what college students wish their safe spaces to keep them safe from are wildly, absurdly off base- I would say it's fairly clear the connection students made to the Marxes in the 60s, a delight in an anarchistic rejection of and victory over a society which, in the sixties, seemed bent on killing young people and blaming them for not wanting to die, would apply almost equally to college kids today.

The idea that political engagement amongst young people equals oversensitivity and an inability to distinguish between satire and cruelty, between punching up and punching down, is clearly not borne out here- the Marxes were Jewish immigrants, and their movies reflect that, enough that it is genuinely jarring to hear what sounds like a fairly unpleasant joke (like Groucho's 'and that's how the darkies were born!') and unsuprising to find out that, contextually, the thrust of it is quite the opposite. If the Marxes don't connect, I suspect it may be more a matter of theatrical distribution, or changes in the way people interact with older movies- I see no reason why the spirit of them wouldn't delight a generation raised on anarchism and wordplay, on the Simpsons and Mystery Science Theater and Spongebob and memes.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:39 am 
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Good call schmatrix!

On the "'and that's how the darkies were born!" gag, it's a confusing one for me. The gag is referencing a popular song of the time, which this article from MTV (!) points out is one among the various musical pop culture references in Duck Soup, all of which I did not pick up on. The song itself was recorded by Paul Robeson (double !) which just showcases that regardless as how racist these things sound to modern ears, it is perhaps not as easy to assume how these gags and jokes like these were picked up in the 1930s.

This wouldn't be a bad topic to cover in an essay Arrow! (hint hint!) :D


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:01 am 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
Maybe they were groaning because it's an intentionally groanworthy pun
I wish you were right, but I've seen many a Marx Brothers' screenings through the years, this was the first I've heard a negative response to their jokes. Even the bad puns. And the groans were clearly sounds of uncomfortable displeasure. One came from a woman, probably in her early 40s, sitting in my aisle. And the jokes aimed at Dumont made her squirm.

Back in the day their films would play at Colleges and Universities around the country. I wonder if that is still happening.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:38 am 
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On rewatching the films in this new set, I actually found Margaret Dumont's contribution to the highjinks especially appealing. ;-)


Last edited by Michael Kerpan on Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:48 pm 
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One of the things I really enjoyed in the commentaries is that everyone involved gave full credit to Dumont for her comedic contributions, and pointed out that Groucho himself did, too- the tradition of treating the actress as though she were as much a stuffed shirt as her characters is an infuriating one, and one on that I hope is finally dying. Dumont and Thelma Todd both wind up really enhancing the movies they're in, which is more than one can say for any of the juvenile romantic leads they get landed with- and while I can imagine being uncomfortable with the sexual harassment that goes on with more or less all the women in the movies, to me, at least, it never seems to play as uncomfortable, as reflecting a genuine hatred for women or anything ugly really, just the venality of Groucho and sort of leg humping puppy-quality of Harpo.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:18 pm 
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More often than not it's an attack on what Dumont's characters represent (i.e. class,
high society, wealth, authority etc.) that forms the basis of Groucho's repartee with her.
You notice how he swings wildly from wooing compliment to vicious insult and back again
in rapid succession so that in the end she is left in complete bewilderment...though always
keeping a straight face or a fixed smile (which is what makes it work so marvelously).


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 3:42 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:42 pm
Costa wrote:
I've watched only Duck Soup from Marx Brothers and I didn't like it at all!


"I've got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it."


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:35 am 
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Delayed to May 29, but full contents (new additions in bold):

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all five features, each scanned and restored in 4K from original film elements by Universal
•Original 1.0 mono audio
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
•Commentary on The Cocoanuts by film scholar Anthony Slide
•Commentary on Animal Crackers by film historian Jeffrey Vance
•Commentary on Monkey Business by Marx Brothers historian Robert S Bader and Bill Marx, son of Harpo Marx
•Commentary on Horse Feathers by film critic FX Feeney
•Commentary on Duck Soup by Bader and film critic Leonard Maltin
•The Marx Brothers: Hollywood’s Kings of Chaos, a feature-length documentary containing interviews with Leonard Maltin, Dick Cavett and others
•Three excerpts from NBC’s The Today Show featuring interviews with Harpo Marx, Groucho Marx and Bill Marx
•Sibling Revelry, an introduction to the Marx Brothers by critic David Cairns
•DUCKFEATHERMONKEYNUTCRACKER, a new video essay about the films by David Cairns
•60-page book containing writing by Robert S. Bader, author of Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage, plus new writing on each of the films by Pamela Hutchinson, Christina Newland, Kevin Jackson, Michael Brooke and Vic Pratt


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:52 pm 
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I wonder how the supplements will be divided up on the discs.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:20 pm 
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Considering Duck Soup is only 70 minutes long, probably just all on that one disc?


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 2:46 pm 
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Again delayed, now to June 26th.


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 11:43 am 
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Maybe we'll get two more delays. One for each brother.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:27 pm 
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Now in stock at the Arrow store

Beaver's put up reviews of Horse Feathers & Duck Soup, but there's no comparison to the Universal discs so they're not incredibly helpful for those considering double-dipping or anything like that,


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:26 pm 
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Giving the first four of these films the time of day for the first time, and I actually preferred Cocoanuts to Animal Crackers which the book suggests was a significantly easier production. The book also mentions that Animal Crackers was an "overlong" stage production and I can see why. While the first film is slowed by a few too many musical numbers, the second film is actually slowed more by a real plodding first 20 minutes or so. Groucho's puns and lines are actually sort of insufferable in several parts of the film, and it's not really until the Chico/Harpo plot gets going that the film gets better. The second half of the film is better than the first by a significant margin.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:10 pm 
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Drucker wrote:
Giving the first four of these films the time of day for the first time, and I actually preferred Cocoanuts to Animal Crackers which the book suggests was a significantly easier production. The book also mentions that Animal Crackers was an "overlong" stage production and I can see why. While the first film is slowed by a few too many musical numbers, the second film is actually slowed more by a real plodding first 20 minutes or so. Groucho's puns and lines are actually sort of insufferable in several parts of the film, and it's not really until the Chico/Harpo plot gets going that the film gets better. The second half of the film is better than the first by a significant margin.
I thought Animal Crackers was less rough around the edges than Cocoanuts, but I didn’t find myself laughing out loud as often. Groucho’s bits aren’t always the best, even though they’re well known, while Harpo has some of the better ones. The card game with Chico and Groucho is definitely the best scene.

I find all these films uneven, even if they're better (funnier) than the MGM & RKO ones. Horse Feathers is my favorite. It doesn't contain the very funniest scenes of the Brothers, but it does feature the most regularly humorous bits in a film that’s the most narratively coherent and tight up to that point. And there's some smartly staged scenes so that visuals contribute as well as the verbal gags. Despite its reputation, I thought Duck Soup was hit-and-miss just like the rest, and overall not their funniest, though it gets high marks for inventiveness.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:57 pm 
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Our household's favorite is Monkey Business. Even though Duck Soup has some great scenes, I find it often almost as dull as much of Animal Crackers. Horse Feathers and Cocoanuts tie for second. All the same, what I really want are restored WC Fields classics.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:18 am 
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I admire anyone who can keep these films apart! I feel like all of the Marx Brothers movies mix into a big soup in my memory where any ladle gets you some good bits, some duds, and some dopey white-bread moon-faced lovers you couldn't possibly care less about


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:40 pm 
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DH -- That's why I prefer Zeppo as the "young lover" -- he manages to make this sort of character at least a bit demented.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:16 pm 
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I think the absence of the juvenile romantics is why Duck Soup stands out for me- the movie doesn't waste a lot of time on things nobody cares about. Horse Feathers is the one that comes to mind as using Zeppo that way, and it's at least more successful there than the ones that just import some boring dude.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:19 pm 
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It's like what Groucho said after Zeppo left (paraphrasing) "you should pay us more since the movies will be four times funnier."


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:54 pm 
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I like Zeppo -- and miss him in the later films. Apparently, onstage, he could fill in for any of his 3 brothers -- successfully.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:41 am 
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Question from a Marx newbie : we tried to watch Duck Soup with my GF and while I found it funny (though much less so than I expected), she didnt at all. Is some of the other movies a bit different, humor style wise, or are they all using this kind of humor ?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:49 am 
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They're all kind of like that, but they grow on you.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:51 am 
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The only thing I can say is if you ever get the chance to watch one theatrically, with an audience, take it- the timing works much better that way, and that experience moved me from lukewarm to huge fan (enough so that re-viewing them at home worked much better for me.)


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