The Marx Brothers

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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tojoed
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#26 Post by tojoed » Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:39 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Jones was okay -- but I missed Zeppo. ;~}
And, as Groucho said, if you're going to make a film at the opera, at least have someone in it who can sing.

atcolomb
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#27 Post by atcolomb » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:35 pm

TCM-HD did broadcast "Animal Crackers" and "Duck Soup" recently and they did use a cleaned up print...much better then the ones used in the box set released a few years ago. The early Marx Bros movies released on dvd had very poor prints of the film so i think the new releases will have better looking copy of the films.

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Kaseykockroach
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#28 Post by Kaseykockroach » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:58 am

From what I've read, Horse Feathers has about thirty minutes or so cut out thanks to the Hayes Office, and an uncut print has yet to be found.
I'm contemplating whether or not I should still grab the DVD. I mean, does the film still work? Pardon my ignorance. ^^;

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Roger Ryan
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#29 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:36 am

Kaseykockroach wrote:From what I've read, Horse Feathers has about thirty minutes or so cut out thanks to the Hayes Office, and an uncut print has yet to be found.
I'm contemplating whether or not I should still grab the DVD. I mean, does the film still work? Pardon my ignorance. ^^;
There's no way 30 minutes were cut from the film. 30 seconds may be closer to the truth. There's a hilarious scene taking place in Thelma Todd's home that has footage missing; this scene can make for frustrating viewing, but everything else in the film plays very well. The only change I'm aware of is that the brothers were not allowed to burn down the college at the film's end as originally scripted. The substitute ending is not nearly as strong of an idea, but still amusing in its own way.

On the strength of its comic timing (Norman McLeod was the perfect director for the Marx Brothers in my opinion) and performances, HORSE FEATHERS remains my favorite Marx film.

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tojoed
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#30 Post by tojoed » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:44 am

You're right, there's about 30 seconds missing and a line that was considered obscene by the Hays office.
I would choose any of the Paramount films as my favourite (except maybe "Cocoanuts"), but "Animal Crackers" if you put a gun to my head.
Even late in life, Groucho sometimes signed correspondence "Jeffrey T. Spalding"

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#31 Post by Jonathan S » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:54 am

While I don't know the exact timing of the cuts, Glenn Mitchell's entry for Horse Feathers in his Marx Brothers Encyclopedia suggests more like several minutes missing: "its present version... has undergone considerable multilation - not to mention outright censorship - since initial release". He mentions "a lost Harpo gag, in which he makes dogcatching easy by planting fake lamp-posts" (different sizes for various breeds), also the deletion of much of Harpo's material with Thelma Todd, which he describes in detail.
Glenn Mitchell wrote: It is believed that some of the cuts were made deliberately, possibly for television or for a theatrical reissue conforming to the restrictive Hays Code; there is in addition reason to suspect partial loss of the original negative, for much of the abridged section is obviously duped from a battered old print.... clipping out sections of dialogue.... An at least reasonably complete print was still circulating in the UK during the 1950s on the Classic cinema chain. It was at such a screening that British writer David Parlett took extensive notes, providing a vivid account of what has since been lost.
Although Mitchell wrote this in 1996, I don't think a longer print has surfaced since then.

By the way, anyone who likes the Marx Brothers Paramounts might well enjoy the concurrent (mostly pre-Code) RKO two-reelers of Clark & McCullough. Bobby Clark - with painted-on spectacles instead of moustache - is very close to Groucho's persona and their best ones have (for me) a similar type of inspired lunacy. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any official releases (though some are on YouTube and available on DVD-R from minor US outlets). I still rely on my 1980s recordings of 6.40am broadcasts on BBC One!

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#32 Post by Roger Ryan » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:04 am

Jonathan S wrote:...He mentions "a lost Harpo gag, in which he makes dogcatching easy by planting fake lamp-posts" (different sizes for various breeds)...
Shouldn't this be "fake fire hydrants"? That seems like the proper choice for the gag; lamp-posts seem like they would be too unweildly, even for Harpo!

Thanks for sharing this info. I believe the censored line and Harpo's antics with Todd all come during the scene where the brothers converge on her campus residence; that's the one scene really damaged by the cutting. While other material may be missing, I think the film plays quite well in its current form and, in response to "Kaseykockroach", it still works despite those cuts. As to the timing of the cuts, at 68 min. HORSE FEATHERS is comparable to the running times of MONKEY BUSINESS (77 min.) and DUCK SOUP (68 min.) so while I can imagine up to 10 minutes may be missing, 30 minutes sounds like an exaggeration.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#33 Post by Jonathan S » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:16 am

Roger Ryan wrote:
Jonathan S wrote:...He mentions "a lost Harpo gag, in which he makes dogcatching easy by planting fake lamp-posts" (different sizes for various breeds)...
Shouldn't this be "fake fire hydrants"? That seems like the proper choice for the gag; lamp-posts seem like they would be too unweildly, even for Harpo!
I suspect you're right, though I'm quoting verbatim. In the UK fire hydrants are underground, so perhaps Mitchell has inadvertently anglicised the gag! Unless Horse Feathers actually showed the dogs urinating (a la Mon oncle), I'm actually quite surprised the scene would be censored even after the Code. I recall fire hydrant gags in Pluto cartoons (including a great one where the hydrant squirts him!) Different rules for live-action perhaps...

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#34 Post by swo17 » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:58 am

From the New York Times summer preview that also reveals some Criterion August releases:
On June 7 the Marx Brothers’ campaign to destroy any semblance of sanity of order reaches Blu-ray, as their early comedies — “The Cocoanuts,” “Animal Crackers,” “Duck Soup,” “Monkey Business” and “Horse Feathers” — are released.
That's the same date the DVD reissues were announced though and I haven't seen anything about them coming out on Blu-ray anywhere else, so I wonder if that's a typo. Has the New York Times ever been right before?

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#35 Post by Jeff » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:18 pm

swo17 wrote:That's the same date the DVD reissues were announced though and I haven't seen anything about them coming out on Blu-ray anywhere else, so I wonder if that's a typo. Has the New York Times ever been right before?
The Old Gray Lady ain't what she used to be. It's almost certainly another NYT error.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#36 Post by Dirk » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:27 pm

Jeff wrote:The Old Gray Lady ain't what she used to be. It's almost certainly another NYT error.
That's what happens when you lay off a number of copy editors and outsource their jobs.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#37 Post by manicsounds » Sun May 01, 2011 8:11 am

It better be right, I'd love to see those early Marx Brothers in HD.

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reaky
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#38 Post by reaky » Mon May 02, 2011 6:50 am

Can't honestly see the point, unless they've found pristine new prints and a HORSE FEATHERS that hasn't had the shears taken to it. The scene in Thelma Todd's apartment gives me a headache, so choppy is it.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#39 Post by ShellOilJunior » Mon May 02, 2011 8:24 am

DVD re-issues are superfluous. These had better be in HD.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#40 Post by tojoed » Mon May 02, 2011 8:25 am

ShellOilJunior wrote:DVD re-issues are superfluous. These had better be in HD.
..or what?

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#41 Post by ShellOilJunior » Mon May 02, 2011 9:38 am

tojoed wrote:
ShellOilJunior wrote:DVD re-issues are superfluous. These had better be in HD.
..or what?
Or this means war!

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#42 Post by ShellOilJunior » Mon May 02, 2011 10:16 am


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reaky
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#43 Post by reaky » Mon May 02, 2011 10:27 am

Now, the Universal horrors, I can see the point of and would be sorely tempted by. The restorations put out in recent years on their various Legacy editions (DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN) would look spiffy in HD.

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zedz
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#44 Post by zedz » Mon May 02, 2011 3:48 pm

reaky wrote:Now, the Universal horrors, I can see the point of and would be sorely tempted by. The restorations put out in recent years on their various Legacy editions (DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN) would look spiffy in HD.
I'm sure you'll have the chance to buy these five or six times on BluRay over the next ten years.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#45 Post by Props55 » Mon May 02, 2011 6:12 pm

Oh I'm certain we'll get plenty of opportunities. To be fair though, if they all look as good as the Netflix streaming HD of WEREWOLF OF LONDON and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN from last July and October then I'll be glad to pony up at least once.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#46 Post by manicsounds » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:21 pm

DVDTalk reviews the rerelease of Cocoanuts which he isn't sure, but says most likely is the same transfer and disc as the 2004 release.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#47 Post by atcolomb » Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:37 pm

I did record "Animal Crackers" when it was shown on TCM-HD and it was a cleaner print than the 2004 dvd release which i have...the same thing when i saw "Duck Soup" on TCM..they had a better print than the dvd release...so i hope the new releases are made from a better source. I hope to see more reviews when they come out.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#48 Post by Gregory » Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:37 pm

zedz wrote:
reaky wrote:Now, the Universal horrors, I can see the point of and would be sorely tempted by. The restorations put out in recent years on their various Legacy editions (DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN) would look spiffy in HD.
I'm sure you'll have the chance to buy these five or six times on BluRay over the next ten years.
Are you sure you're sure? What are they waiting for? Blu-ray has been around for five years now and we haven't even seen the first releases of a lot of older films like these that are held by the big studios and were huge money-spinners on earlier formats.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: The Marx Brothers

#49 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:54 pm

What I hear repeatedly, even occasionally from self-proclaimed cinephiles, is that older films (say, anything prior to 1970) could not possibly have been "shot in HD" so the Blu-ray format will not offer any significant improvement over the existing DVDs. The sales numbers also prove that classic films (especially ones produced prior to 1960) do not sell nearly as well on Blu-ray as more recent films. Add to this the fact that the Marx Brothers' Paramount films are in such rough shape, and would require extensive restoration work, seems to be a nail in the coffin for the Marxes in HD. I'm hope I'm wrong.

EDIT: Okay, I just realized that the Blu-ray discussion had shifted to Universal Horror films and was not really about the Marx Brothers after all. My guess is that Universal's classic horror series would be a more likely candidate for Blu-ray upgrade than the Marx Brothers films, but by no means should we consider that a certainty.

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Re: The Marx Brothers

#50 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:03 pm

Gregory wrote:
zedz wrote:
reaky wrote:Now, the Universal horrors, I can see the point of and would be sorely tempted by. The restorations put out in recent years on their various Legacy editions (DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN) would look spiffy in HD.
I'm sure you'll have the chance to buy these five or six times on BluRay over the next ten years.
Are you sure you're sure? What are they waiting for? Blu-ray has been around for five years now and we haven't even seen the first releases of a lot of older films like these that are held by the big studios and were huge money-spinners on earlier formats.
I'm pretty sure I'm sure I'm sure. Unless the entire format goes south (which is entirely possible), I bet we'll see several milkings of those particular titles before we see any of Universal's rarer / more interesting black and white holdings make Blu.

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