"Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo:
A History of the Marx Brothers
and a Satire on the Rest of the World"
by Joe Adamson
by John Gabree
best thing about this exhaustively researched and jauntily written
critical biography is the anecdotes: Groucho once "attended a
spritualists' meeting and answered a call for questions to the Great
Spirit by standing up and asking, 'What's the capital of North Dakota?'"
a college professor, brings an academic's seriousness of purpose and
breadth of knowledge to bear on the Marx Brothers' lives and work.
He also brings -- and this sets off this volume from most Hollywood
hagiography -- an irreverent and entertaining prose style. He is serious
but never stuffy.
he touches on every stage of their career, Adamson wisely concentrates
on the '30s, when the Marx Brothers were at their creative peak. He
examines almost scene by scene such movie classics as "The Coconuts,"
"Animal Crackers," "A Night at the Opera" and
"A Day at the Races," demonstrating how and why the comedy
team was funny.
also records their decline, more in the style of a documentary than
a Hollywood expose. The book is packed with photographs and movie
stills and dozens of excerpts of the madcap dialog that made them
famous. And more anecdotes: Groucho "was probably not aware of
everything he was saying when a 'You Bet Your Life' contestant stated
that she had 13 children and could explain it only by proclaiming,
'I love my husband!' 'I like my cigar too,' said Groucho, 'but I take
it out once in a while.'"
Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo by Joe Adamson