Archive for Zeppo Marx

The Wedding Marx

Posted in FILM, Sport with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2014 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2014-09-05-17h20m55s209

For our anniversary, Fiona and I ate out and then decided to astonish the world by watching a movie. Yes, a year already. It seems to be lasting. Of course, we’d been together for twenty years before we got hitched. It’s a good system: a lot more marriages would last until death us do part if the couples waited until they were nearly dead before making it legal.

We considered various movies to watch for this special occasion — things that got us both interested in movies in the first place, like KING KONG and Ray Harryhausen, classic science fiction like FORBIDDEN PLANET and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, classic horror like FRANKENSTEIN etc. But in the end we plumped for the Marx Bros, and the one I proposed was HORSE FEATHERS (1932), just because we’d never watched it together. It’s the Paramount one without Margaret Dumont, which was why Fiona always chose a different one.

But HORSE FEATHERS is very good, even if it doesn’t have the Grande Dame herself. It has Thelma Todd, and it had been so long since I’d seen it that this time I recognised a lot more people, like Robert Greig, the butler from SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS, partially eclipsed by his beard, and Vince Barnett standing at a bar with no lines (somebody thought another comedian might come in handy), and Theresa Harris (as a maid, of course) and Nat Pendleton.

vlcsnap-2014-09-05-17h39m47s22

If the faces hadn’t previously registered, the dialogue was mostly etched in memory. Groucho’s address to the college, his address to the class, the password routine, And Groucho’s perfect response to a threatened musical interlude from Chico, stepping up to the camera and telling us: “I’ve got to stay here, but there’s no reason you folks shouldn’t go out in the lobby until this thing blows over.” I actually like Chico’s recitals, it’s Harpo’s that make me tired.

Just watched a documentary on clowns produced by the estimable Lobster Films. It tells the story, at one point, of Harpo’s trip to the USSR. His baggage containing various pistols, daggers, prop bombs and sticks of dynamite (all part of the act) he was detained and interrogated by the Soviet police, a scenario for a play if ever I heard one (to be entitled So You Won’t Talk, Huh?)

vlcsnap-2014-09-05-17h26m38s67

HORSE FEATHERS has a big slapstick football game climax. I hate sport. I am to sport what Richard Dawkins is to religion. And while I admire Keaton’s COLLEGE and Lloyd’s THE FRESHMAN, I don’t like the way the bookworm turns and beats the jocks at their own game. It isn’t realistic, and it’s a betrayal of their identity. So, although it isn’t so very funny, I quite like the way the Marxes just destroy the whole concept of a rues-based competitive sport, racing to the touch-line by chariot and producing a whole series of balls to raise their score.

Marx Bros films usually fizzle out, being predicated upon nothing and defying narrative structure, but this one has a good, if arbitrary ending, with all three brothers (Zeppo may be there, but he’s wisely framed out) marrying Thelma and then aggressively clambering aboard her as the Wedding March blasts out, applying to the rules of matrimony the same freeform approach taken to football.

vlcsnap-2014-09-05-17h27m27s28

 The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection

Lost in Cyberspace

Posted in FILM, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2008 by dcairns

When you run a blog on WordPress, one of the handy features they give you (when they’re not totally changing the format and functions without warning, while leaving the “Help” section unmodified), is a guide to the search terms people use each day to find the blog.

Why are you all so strange? Some of the search requests are so specific to Shadowplay that I have to assume somebody’s not bothered to bookmark me and just uses a different weird search every time they want to find the site. But the ones I like best are the deeply peculiar requests that are in no way going to find satisfaction here, but which coincide in some peculiar way with some turn of phrase I’ve used or some subject I’ve mentioned in passing, like Walpamur Petrifying Liquid.

Here are a few:

The Great War Zeppelin (quite a popular one, this. All I did was mention Zeppo Marx.)

Giant squid (probably THE most popular search. Why, people?)

Songs with the word shovel (just BEAUTIFUL. I wanna party with this guy.)

Jessica Rabbit nude (very popular, beaten only by Angelina Jolie.)

Shelley Duvall fake (I’m slightly mystified.)

Williams Syndrome pictures (People, you need to learn about Google image search.)

Pittsburgh films Demonlover (Not sure I’ve ever mentioned the Olivier Assayas movie DEMONLOVER, which I like a lot, but I have mentioned the city of Pittsburgh in connection to George Romero, I think.)

Arthur Clarke pederast (I became the web’s top source on this pressing issue when the Great Man died. Sorry, Art.)

Videos feet smelling (No comment.)

Cut her hair really short.

Rot wang.

Balloo emote (I love this one like a brother.)

Shorter people quotes (?)

Surreal train (OK, you got me, I’m hooked. Now please EXPLAIN.)

Mathew Broderick on March 15th, 2008 (Intriguing, but I’m damned if I’m going to Google this in turn to try and find out what he was up to. Give the man his privacy!)

Mans final breath.

Sexual mental hospital stories.

Lactulose (Which leads folks unerringly to MY MOST POPULAR POST EVER.)

The worst toilet in Scotland (Somebody wants to find it?)

Stolen ambles (OK, now I’m officially FREAKED OUT.)

Wigs sex (Well, sure, we’ve all done this, right?)

I’m gonna open up your gate Phaedra song.

Smeel feet movies (If anything, MORE disturbing than “Videos feet smelling” since it conjures the image of a horribly stupid person with a somewhat disgusting and comical fetish. Stay on the internet! Avoid reality!)

There is a post to be written about what John Waters calls “shrimpers” in the cinema, a field taking in not only Tarantino but also probably Bunuel. But I’m not ready to write it!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 595 other followers