Saturday, 1 March 2014

Horse Feathers.

(Photograph of Harpo property of Paramount pictures/two old second Hand books property of me.)Look at these two books I was able to find in a second hand bookstore, heavily cellotaped(who does that to books?) but lovely all the same. Pulling back the curtain to get an insight into the minds and times of yer idols can be a bit risky. You might learn things you will never unlearn but a closed mind is like an unhinged door leaning against a wall,not much use. Gonna jump in and learn what I can.
                             EVERYBODY SAYS I LOVE YOU,JUST WHAT THEY SAY IT
                                                    FOR I NEVER KNEW,
                                                    WHO SAYS I LOVE YOU.
So sang Groucho, strumming a guitar, gliding along in a canoe with a beautiful woman, on a glorious summer day way back in 1932. Groucho never looked more louche and as he finishes the song he throws the guitar in the river. Shortly thereafter the young woman joins it, splashing around and futilely calling out to the same person who just tossed her in to rescue her. It was Thelma Todd and she did deserve a soaking. Do'nt we all. All the brothers get to interpret this song in their own fashion, a comic refrain throughout the movie. Zeppo sang it as a standard crooner, displaying a fine set of pipes, er, that is to say a fine singing voice. Chico does it as a cheeky nonsense ryhme. Harpo whistles it to a horse. This has to be the only movie I have ever watched which revolves around a football game which I have really enjoyed. Football being an activity that strikes me as one of the singularly most dull events it is possible for even a partially evolved being to indulge in. Yet I thought it was great craic. Two schools, Darwin and Huxley(what great names for institutes of learning.) are competing at football, with ruthless crooks on the sideline, and in the game, determined to fix the outcome. Throw the Marx Brothers into this mix and you have Anarchy on the Pitch.
               It is in this movie that dear old Harpo plays a dog catcher, an image that has off late inflammed my imagination. You may, if you are reading this, have seen my doodles of him in the dog catcher outfit elsewhere on this blog. I do doodle from time to time. I do dirty doodles from time to time also. Harpo also plays an Iceman in this movie. That is a man who delivers ice for a living and not an underworld assassin who ices people for money.
                Zeppo plays Groucho's son in this movie and it works despite the face they are really brothers round about the same age. I cannot understand why no one at the movie studios or even in the Marx Brothers extended show biz fraternity saw Zeppo's potential as a leading man. He was a great comic with a fine singing voice and was also a very handsome man. I think he had a very striking profile. I would have cast him in William Shakespeare's Julius Cesar with a profile like that. I could imagine an archeologist digging up a gold coin from that era and finding that noble visage on one side. With Harpo gurning on the other.
                 The climatic end game aside I was very pleased with the ensemble piece that takes place in The College Widow's apartment as nearly all the principal leads get a chance to allow anarchy and merry chaos to ensue. Thelma Todd quite easily holds her own amidst all this madness despite being the target for most of it. The whole sequence feels like a live performance, a live stage farce and suggests just how great their vaudeville act must have been.
                  I stuck Horse Feathers on after midnight and chuckled into the early hours. Groucho sings a great song to the assembled faculty and student body WHATEVER IT IS I'M AGAINST IT! A song which John Lydon should record with his band Public Image. Well, if Lydon would ever indulge in a cover version why not a Marx Brothers song.
                   Vive L'Anachie!