The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

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Special Features

  • Harpo Marx: The Today Show interview -- Witness Harpo's side-splitting genius as he mimes the entire interview
  • Groucho Marx: The Today Show interview -- Watch the ever-witty and always hilarious Groucho and anchors Hugh Downs and Pat Fontaine get into some madcap shenanigans
  • William Marx: The Today Show interview -- See the real brothers behind the legendary comics; this interview with Harpo's son also features the Marxes' rarely seen, personal home movies
  • 40-page collector's booklet
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Monkey Business
The first Marx Brothers film to be written directly for the screen (its authors included S. J. Perelman, Arthur Sheekman and Will B. Johnstone), Monkey Business is also the merry Marxes' first Hollywood production. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo are brilliantly cast as four stowaways on an ocean liner, bound for New York. As our heroes endeavor to elude dimwitted First Mate Gibson (Tom Kennedy), each of the brothers gets involved in an adventure of his own. Groucho finds himself in a menage a trois with gangster Alky Briggs (Harry Briggs) and Briggs' sexy wife Lucille (Thelma Todd); Harpo joins a "Punch and Judy" puppet show, driving the ship's crew into a frenzy of confusion; Chico hires himself out as bodyguard to retired bootlegger Joe Helton (Rockliffe Fellowes); and Zeppo romances Joe's pretty daughter Mary (Ruth Hall). Once they've arrived in New York, the Marx boys head to Helton's Long Island mansion, where, after the obligatory harp-and-piano musical interludes, the fearsome foursome team up to rescue Mary from her kidnappers. There are far too many wonderful moments in Monkey Business to detail here, but highlights include Groucho's initial confrontation with Alky Briggs ("With a little study, you'll go a long way, and I wish you'd start now!") and his romantic tete-a-tetes with Lucille ("Come with me, and we'll lodge with my fleas in the hills -- er, flee to my lodge in the hills"); Harpo and Chico's attempts to shave a sleeping barbershop customer ("You know what, partner? I think we give-a him one snoop too much"); and the classic setpiece, "borrowed" from the team's early Broadway hit I'll Say She Is, in which all Four Marx Brothers try to slip past the customs officials by posing as Maurice Chevalier! Though not the best of their Paramount features, Monkey Business is still among the funniest Marx Brothers comedies ever made -- and one of the funniest comedies, period. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Animal Crackers
Animal Crackers, like The Cocoanuts before is an all-but-literal translation to film of a smash-hit Marx Brothers Broadway musical. The aristocratic Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) holds a weekend party at her Long Island Estate. Her guest of honor is famed (but likely fraudulent) African explorer Geoffrey T. Spaulding (Groucho Marx). Also showing up are renegade musician Signor Emmanuel Ravelli (Chico Marx), the mute, girl-chasing "Professor" (Harpo Marx) and Spaulding's faithful secretary Horatio Jamison (Zeppo Marx). The film, revolving around a stolen painting, finds Groucho lecturing on his most recent safari ("One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know"), Harpo and Chico unabashedly cheating at bridge, Groucho dictating a wildly nonsequitur letter to the firm of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger and McCormick, and Groucho and Chico drawing up plans to build a house. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Horse Feathers
The Cocoanuts
While The Four Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo) were appearing nightly on Broadway in Animal Crackers in the spring of 1929, they spent their days shooting their first film, The Cocoanuts, at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Long Island. Based on their 1925 stage hit, The Cocoanuts is set in Miami, where hotel manager Mr. Hammer (Groucho Marx) struggles to keep his establishment from going under. Hammer's only paying guest is Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont), whose daughter Polly (Mary Eaton) is in love with aspiring architect Bob (Oscar Shaw). Mrs. Potter would prefer that Polly marry the respectable Harvey Yates (Cyril Ring); what she doesn't know is that Yates is a jewel thief, in cahoots with the slinky Penelope (Kay Francis). The script was written by George S. Kaufman, and the music by Irving Berlin. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Duck Soup
In this 1933 Marx Brothers film, the mythical country of Freedonia is broke and on the verge of revolution. Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Freedonia's principal benefactress, will lend the country 20 million dollars if the president withdraws and places the government in the hands of the "fearless, progressive" Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). At his inauguration, Firefly shows up late, insults everyone in sight, and sings a song about how he intends to abuse his power. Naturally, the crowd cheers wildly. Meanwhile, Ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) of neighboring Sylvania schemes to oust Firefly and take over Freedonia himself. To gather enough evidence to discredit Firefly, he sends his most trusted spies, Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx). Five minutes after they show up in Freedonia, both spies become important members of Firefly's cabinet, though Chicolini keeps his day job as a peanut vendor. Firefly eventually declares war on Sylvania, an absurd farrago with Firefly changing uniforms from scene to scene, Chicolini going to the other side because the food is better, and Pinky parading around the battlefield with a sandwich board reading "Join the army and see the navy." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Groucho Marx
    Groucho Marx - Stowaway
  • Harpo Marx
    Harpo Marx - Harpo
  • Chico Marx
    Chico Marx - Chico
  • Zeppo Marx
    Zeppo Marx - Zeppo
  • Thelma Todd
    Thelma Todd - Lucille

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