Discussion:
OT: Marx Bros. on DVD for April
(too old to reply)
Jeff NY
2004-02-05 17:25:49 UTC
Permalink
While not the earlier Paramount films, it's still worthwhile noting that
Warners is preparing "The Marx Brothers Collection" for an April release.

Titles included: NIGHT AT THE OPERA, DAY AT THE RACES, GO WEST, AT THE CIRCUS,
THE BIG STORE and (surprisingly) ROOM SERVICE and A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.
(What, no LOVE HAPPY?)

Wonder what's holding up the Universal/Paramount Marx films. (And Fields, and
West, etc., etc.)

Jeff
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-05 18:36:05 UTC
Permalink
There's a collection I wouldn't want. Some people think "Opera" was their
best - but they muct be people willing to watch interminable bad musical
numbers and stunt men hanging from stage ropes. It might be improved on
DVD - so much easier to skip everythign and get to the excellent Marx Bros
short subject hidden in it.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films, it's still worthwhile noting that
Warners is preparing "The Marx Brothers Collection" for an April release.
Titles included: NIGHT AT THE OPERA, DAY AT THE RACES, GO WEST, AT THE CIRCUS,
THE BIG STORE and (surprisingly) ROOM SERVICE and A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.
(What, no LOVE HAPPY?)
Wonder what's holding up the Universal/Paramount Marx films. (And Fields, and
West, etc., etc.)
Jeff
R H Draney
2004-02-05 18:55:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff NY
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films, it's still worthwhile noting that
Warners is preparing "The Marx Brothers Collection" for an April release.
Titles included: NIGHT AT THE OPERA, DAY AT THE RACES, GO WEST, AT THE
CIRCUS,
Post by Jeff NY
THE BIG STORE and (surprisingly) ROOM SERVICE and A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.
(What, no LOVE HAPPY?)
Wonder what's holding up the Universal/Paramount Marx films. (And Fields,
and
Post by Jeff NY
West, etc., etc.)
There's a collection I wouldn't want. Some people think "Opera" was their
best - but they muct be people willing to watch interminable bad musical
numbers and stunt men hanging from stage ropes. It might be improved on
DVD - so much easier to skip everythign and get to the excellent Marx Bros
short subject hidden in it.
It's a start, and as such a good sign for the future...personally, I intend to
accumulate all 13 Marx features as soon as they become available, even THE STORY
OF MANKIND, painful as it is to watch...in this, as in a number of other areas,
I'm a completist....

And honestly, I've always *liked* A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA...I'm right there with
Groucho as he watches Lisette Verea walk away and recalls that he must get his
watch fixed...grrrROWF!...r
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-05 22:57:34 UTC
Permalink
Of the later Marxes I like "Casablanca" the best - especially Harpo's scene
leaning against the building.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by R H Draney
Post by Jeff NY
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films, it's still worthwhile noting that
Warners is preparing "The Marx Brothers Collection" for an April release.
Titles included: NIGHT AT THE OPERA, DAY AT THE RACES, GO WEST, AT THE
CIRCUS,
Post by Jeff NY
THE BIG STORE and (surprisingly) ROOM SERVICE and A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.
(What, no LOVE HAPPY?)
Wonder what's holding up the Universal/Paramount Marx films. (And Fields,
and
Post by Jeff NY
West, etc., etc.)
There's a collection I wouldn't want. Some people think "Opera" was their
best - but they muct be people willing to watch interminable bad musical
numbers and stunt men hanging from stage ropes. It might be improved on
DVD - so much easier to skip everythign and get to the excellent Marx Bros
short subject hidden in it.
It's a start, and as such a good sign for the future...personally, I intend to
accumulate all 13 Marx features as soon as they become available, even THE STORY
OF MANKIND, painful as it is to watch...in this, as in a number of other areas,
I'm a completist....
And honestly, I've always *liked* A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA...I'm right there with
Groucho as he watches Lisette Verea walk away and recalls that he must get his
watch fixed...grrrROWF!...r
Laughing Gravy
2004-02-06 15:57:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
There's a collection I wouldn't want. Some people think "Opera" was their
best - but they muct be people willing to watch interminable bad musical
numbers and stunt men hanging from stage ropes. It might be improved on
DVD - so much easier to skip everythign and get to the excellent Marx Bros
short subject hidden in it.
CASABLANCA was the first Marx film I saw, and it seemed hilarious.
It's much less so, of course, on repeat viewings.

A NIGHT AT THE OPERA is one of the great comedies ever made, and I
even like the music. This is one of my "most wanted" films on DVD, and
I'm sure looking forward to it.
Brent Walker
2004-02-05 22:29:59 UTC
Permalink
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.

I personally don't rank OPERA quite as high as the three best
Paramount Marxes, and it probably could've been cut down and been even
better, but it's still a classic, and what makes the finale so great
is that the Marx Brothers' aren't just creating comic anarchy at an
opera house, they're creating comic anarachy amongst a seriously
staged performance of one of the most famous operas ever written (and
I say that as not a huge opera fan myself).

Brent Walker
Post by Tony Spadaro
There's a collection I wouldn't want. Some people think "Opera" was their
best - but they muct be people willing to watch interminable bad musical
numbers and stunt men hanging from stage ropes. It might be improved on
DVD - so much easier to skip everythign and get to the excellent Marx Bros
short subject hidden in it.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films, it's still worthwhile noting that
Warners is preparing "The Marx Brothers Collection" for an April release.
Titles included: NIGHT AT THE OPERA, DAY AT THE RACES, GO WEST, AT THE
CIRCUS,
Post by Jeff NY
THE BIG STORE and (surprisingly) ROOM SERVICE and A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.
(What, no LOVE HAPPY?)
Wonder what's holding up the Universal/Paramount Marx films. (And Fields,
and
Post by Jeff NY
West, etc., etc.)
Jeff
Frederica
2004-02-05 22:19:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
Look, everyone is allowed one screwup, and Il Trovatore is Verdi's. That is
one silly opera, peopled by some of the dumbest characters ever to sing
their lungs out.

Frederica
Eric Stott
2004-02-05 23:06:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Frederica
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
Look, everyone is allowed one screwup, and Il Trovatore is Verdi's. That is
one silly opera, peopled by some of the dumbest characters ever to sing
their lungs out.
Frederica
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.

Stott
Frederica
2004-02-05 23:04:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Frederica
Look, everyone is allowed one screwup, and Il Trovatore is Verdi's.
That is
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Frederica
one silly opera, peopled by some of the dumbest characters ever to sing
their lungs out.
Frederica
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
Oh...*that.*

Frederica
Capel Cleggs
2004-02-06 22:45:28 UTC
Permalink
I think TROVATORE has a perfectly fine libretto -- in terms of
structure, characterization, and the "musicality" of its verse. The
plot seems absurd to us today, but it's based on a quite successful
stage play of the time, as are most of Verdi's operas (RIGOLETTO is a
fairly faithful adaptation of a Victor Hugo play). In other words,
this kind of plot isn't an "opera plot"; it's just that this kind of
story survives in the operas, while the original plays are no longer
performed.

I'll also put in a good word for the songs in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA,
which I think are pretty good (the singing lovers may be hard to take
but "Alone" is quite a nice ballad by the "Singin in the Rain" team,
Freed and Brown). The songs in DAY AT THE RACES are often good too
("All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" was a big hit), but the musical
numbers go on too long. And with OPERA I think the love plot is quite
well handled -- that is, the lovers' scenes are quick, crisply written
and shot so as not to slow down the film (and with some surprisingly
long uninterrupted takes). Of course after the anarchic Marxes of the
Paramount years it can be disappointing to see them acting so nice and
trying to bring young lovers together, but on its own terms, it's
excellent, and George Kaufman knew exactly how to write for Groucho.

RACES is not in the same class because the routines, except for the
"Tootsie frootsie" scene, are kind of generic, and that's a problem
with all the subsequent MGM Marxes: the chase scenes, "wacky" scenes
etc. could have been written for any comedy team. But there's
something enjoyable in all the films, and I'm definitely going to get
the set.
Greta de Groat
2004-02-05 23:39:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Frederica
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
Look, everyone is allowed one screwup, and Il Trovatore is Verdi's. That is
one silly opera, peopled by some of the dumbest characters ever to sing
their lungs out.
Frederica
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
Yeah, sublime if the singers can handle it. Or if the stage director isn't doing
his best to make it all look even sillier. There have been many times when i've
wished for a Marx brother to swing down and carry off a singer (or better yet, the
production designer--those of you who've seen the current Met production know who
i mean)

greta
Frederica
2004-02-05 23:26:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Greta de Groat
Post by Eric Stott
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
Yeah, sublime if the singers can handle it. Or if the stage director isn't doing
his best to make it all look even sillier. There have been many times when i've
wished for a Marx brother to swing down and carry off a singer (or better yet, the
production designer--those of you who've seen the current Met production know who
i mean)
greta
I saw one 2-3 years ago that had a whole load of singing batters in the
bullpen...would that be familiar?

Frederica
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-06 03:35:33 UTC
Permalink
Getta you peanuts right here?
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Greta de Groat
Post by Greta de Groat
Post by Eric Stott
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
Yeah, sublime if the singers can handle it. Or if the stage director
isn't doing
Post by Greta de Groat
his best to make it all look even sillier. There have been many times
when i've
Post by Greta de Groat
wished for a Marx brother to swing down and carry off a singer (or
better
Post by Greta de Groat
yet, the
Post by Greta de Groat
production designer--those of you who've seen the current Met production
know who
Post by Greta de Groat
i mean)
greta
I saw one 2-3 years ago that had a whole load of singing batters in the
bullpen...would that be familiar?
Frederica
Stephen Cooke
2004-02-10 04:07:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
Getta you peanuts right here?
This sure is top corn/So we go and get some popcorn...

swac
When I listen to Pagliacci, I get itchy and scratchy.
William Ferry
2004-02-10 21:29:47 UTC
Permalink
I hate to go back
But I cain't get my dough back
Ain't no use complainin'
'Cause outside it's a-rainin'
(cue car horn honks)
--
Yours for bigger and better silents,
Bill Ferry
Post by Stephen Cooke
Post by Tony Spadaro
Getta you peanuts right here?
This sure is top corn/So we go and get some popcorn...
swac
When I listen to Pagliacci, I get itchy and scratchy.
JMozart17561791
2004-02-06 01:20:52 UTC
Permalink
I agree.You haven't lived until you've heard a young Leontyne Price sing a
ravishing "D'amor sull ali rosee".Or Richard Tucker as Manrico.Gee,we don't
have many singers like them anymore.

James
Post by Eric Stott
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
Fair Pickings
2004-02-06 01:22:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by JMozart17561791
I agree.You haven't lived until you've heard a young Leontyne Price sing a
ravishing "D'amor sull ali rosee".
Better still--Rosa Ponselle (one of her early Columbias).

Art Pierce
Eric Stott
2004-02-06 02:00:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fair Pickings
Post by JMozart17561791
I agree.You haven't lived until you've heard a young Leontyne Price sing a
ravishing "D'amor sull ali rosee".
Better still--Rosa Ponselle (one of her early Columbias).
Art Pierce
Or Celestina Boninsegna- also on early Columbia. An exquisite performance.

Stott
Donna Hill
2004-02-08 14:00:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Fair Pickings
Post by JMozart17561791
I agree.You haven't lived until you've heard a young Leontyne Price sing a
ravishing "D'amor sull ali rosee".
Better still--Rosa Ponselle (one of her early Columbias).
Art Pierce
Or Celestina Boninsegna- also on early Columbia. An exquisite performance.
Stott
Oops! I guess I should have read down a little further! The duet
Ponselle sings with Stracciari (another early columbia, while the
tempo is fast to make it onto the side) it's still pretty awesome
singing. It never fails to get my blood boiling. And that woman had
a trill that would make Joan Sutherland shamefaced.

Donna
Donna Hill
2004-02-08 13:58:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by JMozart17561791
I agree.You haven't lived until you've heard a young Leontyne Price sing a
ravishing "D'amor sull ali rosee".Or Richard Tucker as Manrico.Gee,we don't
have many singers like them anymore.
James
Post by Eric Stott
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
No we don't, but for me, I'll go you one better, take a listen to Rosa
Ponselle sing Verdi, D'amor is wonderful, but then listen to her sing
Forza (another somewhat silly, or at least murky plot, but Verdi's
music is unsurpassed), Gigli, Caruso, Rethberg, Pinza, Martinelli,
Melchior (who could sing the hell out of Verdi , or anything else for
that matter) and dozens of others during the silent era, that to me
was the great period of recorded opera (until the 1950s and early
60s). Let's face it, today for every Renee Flemming, there are a
dozen other singers today who burn out far too quickly. A real pity
and I wish it were not true. I want my opera singers to have nice
long and fruitful careers. Getting off my operatic soapbox and
popping in a romophone CD.

Donna Hill
JMozart17561791
2004-02-09 09:52:34 UTC
Permalink
Hi Donna,

Yes,I agree.I actually have a preference for the historic opera singers,so I
usually tend to focus on singers anywhere from about 1900 to the 1960's.I
mentioned the Price/Tucker Trovatore recording because it was the first
recording of the opera I ever heard,so I have a real soft spot for it,and I
truly think Price is one of the most beautiful Leonora's on record(Although,I
just ordered the Zinka Milanov recording with Bjoerling)

But my tastes are pretty ecclectic.Renata Tebaldi has been an idol of mine for
as long as I can remember.Bidu Sayao is an exquisitely beautiful singer.Franco
Corelli and Leonard Warren are major favorites as well as Bjoerling,di
Steffano,Bergonzi,and I really like Callas as well.

But going back to even earlier singers.Love Gigli,John McCormack,Caruso,Maria
Jeritza,Worship Rosa Ponselle and Amelita Galli-Curci and Pasquale Amato is one
of the greatest baritones,IMO.

But really,I love more singers than I could ever possibly list here.This is
just a drop in the bucket.

James(Who's dissapointed because he still hasn't heard Lina Cavaliari)
Subject: Re: Marx Bros. on DVD for April
Date: 2/8/2004 8:58 AM Eastern Standard Time
Post by JMozart17561791
I agree.You haven't lived until you've heard a young Leontyne Price sing a
ravishing "D'amor sull ali rosee".Or Richard Tucker as Manrico.Gee,we don't
have many singers like them anymore.
James
Post by Eric Stott
Characters and plot be damned- it's got sublime music.
Stott
No we don't, but for me, I'll go you one better, take a listen to Rosa
Ponselle sing Verdi, D'amor is wonderful, but then listen to her sing
Forza (another somewhat silly, or at least murky plot, but Verdi's
music is unsurpassed), Gigli, Caruso, Rethberg, Pinza, Martinelli,
Melchior (who could sing the hell out of Verdi , or anything else for
that matter) and dozens of others during the silent era, that to me
was the great period of recorded opera (until the 1950s and early
60s). Let's face it, today for every Renee Flemming, there are a
dozen other singers today who burn out far too quickly. A real pity
and I wish it were not true. I want my opera singers to have nice
long and fruitful careers. Getting off my operatic soapbox and
popping in a romophone CD.
Donna Hill
JMozart17561791
2004-02-09 09:56:41 UTC
Permalink
Ooops,That should be *Cavalieri* This is what happens when you post at 5:00
a.m.

James
Post by JMozart17561791
James(Who's dissapointed because he still hasn't heard Lina Cavaliari)
Greta de Groat
2004-02-09 17:26:40 UTC
Permalink
I've got the old Record of Singing v.1 box set, which is a fantastic resorce,
and does have a recording of Cavalieri. And to my surprise she actually sounds
pretty good. A lot of her italian contemporaries have pretty strident voices
but at least in the selection chosen she was ok. Love to see one of her films,
though, she's incredibly gorgeous. Another beauty who should have made films
is Maria Kuznetsova, and she has a fine voice as well.

Nobody's mentioned the divine Mattia Battestini. Shows what proper technique
can do--and what's missing in a lot of singing we hear, especially among
baritones. There is soundfile available at
http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Baritones/Battistini__Mattia/battistini__mattia.html

Though for sheer exciting sound quality Amato is my guy too (but he did burn
out fast--nice recording of him at the same site:
http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Baritones/Amato__Pasquale/amato__pasquale.html).
I listen to the Ponselle-Stracciari duet over and over, there's no more
exciting singing than than that.

Oh, Kuznetsova has a wwebpage and soundfile too:
http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Sopranos/Kuznetsova__Maria/kuznetsova__maria.html

How's this for off topic? Oh well, at least they are all silent era--an
incredible age of singing.

greta
Post by JMozart17561791
Ooops,That should be *Cavalieri* This is what happens when you post at 5:00
a.m.
James
Post by JMozart17561791
James(Who's dissapointed because he still hasn't heard Lina Cavaliari)
JMozart17561791
2004-02-09 23:44:23 UTC
Permalink
I always thought Maria Jeritza was a ravishing blonde,ethereal beauty,who
should have made silent pictures.Good voice too.And I think Amato would have
perhaps made a handsome leading man in films.Wish Caruso would have had a more
successful career in films.I really enjoyed him in My Cousin.

Does anyone know if Amelita Galli-Curci's film The Madonna Of The Slums(1919)
exists?I'm assuming it's lost,but I haven't seen anything definite about it.

James
Subject: Re: Marx Bros. on DVD for April
Date: 2/9/2004 12:26 PM Eastern Standard Time
I've got the old Record of Singing v.1 box set, which is a fantastic resorce,
and does have a recording of Cavalieri. And to my surprise she actually sounds
pretty good. A lot of her italian contemporaries have pretty strident voices
but at least in the selection chosen she was ok. Love to see one of her films,
though, she's incredibly gorgeous. Another beauty who should have made films
is Maria Kuznetsova, and she has a fine voice as well.
Nobody's mentioned the divine Mattia Battestini. Shows what proper technique
can do--and what's missing in a lot of singing we hear, especially among
baritones. There is soundfile available at
http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Baritones/Battistini__Mattia/battistini__m
attia.html
Though for sheer exciting sound quality Amato is my guy too (but he did burn
http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Baritones/Amato__Pasquale/amato__pasquale.
html).
I listen to the Ponselle-Stracciari duet over and over, there's no more
exciting singing than than that.
http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Sopranos/Kuznetsova__Maria/kuznetsova__mar
ia.html
How's this for off topic? Oh well, at least they are all silent era--an
incredible age of singing.
greta
Post by JMozart17561791
Ooops,That should be *Cavalieri* This is what happens when you post at 5:00
a.m.
James
Post by JMozart17561791
James(Who's dissapointed because he still hasn't heard Lina Cavaliari)
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-05 23:09:21 UTC
Permalink
All operas are silly -- like the convention that merely putting a piece
of gauze over your face will disguise you from your husband of several
years. Rigoletto is by far the silliest plot but one of the most fun of all
operas, curses, murder, deception, lechery - this is really Grand Opera (BTW
it will be on radio this Saturday for all you Met broadcast listeners).
I think that's why the silliest of generas get "opera" appended to the
name -- Horse Opera, Soap Opera, Space Opera.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Frederica
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
Look, everyone is allowed one screwup, and Il Trovatore is Verdi's. That is
one silly opera, peopled by some of the dumbest characters ever to sing
their lungs out.
Frederica
WaverBoy
2004-02-06 08:00:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Frederica
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
Look, everyone is allowed one screwup, and Il Trovatore is Verdi's. That is
one silly opera, peopled by some of the dumbest characters ever to sing
their lungs out.
Frederica
Perhaps that's why they chose it as the opera for the Marxes to destroy...

And let me add my vote for "Cosi Cosa" as a good, even memorable song.
Always liked it.
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-05 23:01:02 UTC
Permalink
First off, I'm an opera fan -- the first several DVDs I bought were operas.
I don't find anything to like in the actual opera numbers in the film.
Secondly there is other music - although nothing to compare with the
awfulness in "A Day at the Races" or the Tenement Symphony from .... I
forget.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
I personally don't rank OPERA quite as high as the three best
Paramount Marxes, and it probably could've been cut down and been even
better, but it's still a classic, and what makes the finale so great
is that the Marx Brothers' aren't just creating comic anarchy at an
opera house, they're creating comic anarachy amongst a seriously
staged performance of one of the most famous operas ever written (and
I say that as not a huge opera fan myself).
Brent Walker
Post by Tony Spadaro
There's a collection I wouldn't want. Some people think "Opera" was their
best - but they muct be people willing to watch interminable bad musical
numbers and stunt men hanging from stage ropes. It might be improved on
DVD - so much easier to skip everythign and get to the excellent Marx Bros
short subject hidden in it.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films, it's still worthwhile noting that
Warners is preparing "The Marx Brothers Collection" for an April release.
Titles included: NIGHT AT THE OPERA, DAY AT THE RACES, GO WEST, AT THE
CIRCUS,
Post by Jeff NY
THE BIG STORE and (surprisingly) ROOM SERVICE and A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.
(What, no LOVE HAPPY?)
Wonder what's holding up the Universal/Paramount Marx films. (And Fields,
and
Post by Jeff NY
West, etc., etc.)
Jeff
Brent Walker
2004-02-06 20:50:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
First off, I'm an opera fan -- the first several DVDs I bought were operas.
I don't find anything to like in the actual opera numbers in the film.
Secondly there is other music - although nothing to compare with the
awfulness in "A Day at the Races" or the Tenement Symphony from .... I
forget.
...THE BIG STORE. "Tenement Symphony" is so beyond saving that even
Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't salvage it.

Brent Walker
Eric Stott
2004-02-06 21:25:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brent Walker
Post by Tony Spadaro
First off, I'm an opera fan -- the first several DVDs I bought were operas.
I don't find anything to like in the actual opera numbers in the film.
Secondly there is other music - although nothing to compare with the
awfulness in "A Day at the Races" or the Tenement Symphony from .... I
forget.
...THE BIG STORE. "Tenement Symphony" is so beyond saving that even
Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't salvage it.
Brent Walker
There's about 15 seconds of Harpo and Chicco in it that are lovely- the rest? NERTZ!

Stott
R H Draney
2004-02-06 22:12:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Brent Walker
...THE BIG STORE. "Tenement Symphony" is so beyond saving that even
Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't salvage it.
There's about 15 seconds of Harpo and Chicco in it that are lovely- the rest? NERTZ!
Uh, and Virginia O'Brien...nobody ever looked more fetching standing absolutely
stock still....r
Feuillade
2004-02-07 02:10:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by R H Draney
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Brent Walker
...THE BIG STORE. "Tenement
Symphony" is so beyond saving
that even Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't
salvage it.
There's about 15 seconds of Harpo
and Chicco in it that are lovely- the
rest? NERTZ!
Uh, and Virginia O'Brien...nobody
ever looked more fetching standing
absolutely stock still....r
Virginia O'Brien livens up just about any film she's in. I think one of the
great tragedies of film is that she turned down Louis B. Mayer's offer to play
Annie Oakley in "Annie get Your Gun."

I'm a big fan of O'Brien's and wish more of her stuff would come out on DVD. I
think a TCM documentary about her would be nice as well. :)


Tom Moran

"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
RFCSAC627N
2004-02-07 02:49:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
Virginia O'Brien livens up just about any film she's in. I think one of the
great tragedies of film is that she turned down Louis B. Mayer's offer to play
Annie Oakley in "Annie get Your Gun."
Why would she have turned him down? She had played mostly supporting roles
at MGM. You'd think she'd jump at the chance. She was a wonderful talent, but
her film career just about evaporated after she was dropped by MGM.
My wife used to work with her son-in-law, and I sent along a career article
that she hadn't seen. She was kind enough to send me back an autographed
picture.

Richard Carnahan
Feuillade
2004-02-07 03:29:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by RFCSAC627N
Post by Feuillade
Virginia O'Brien livens up just about
any film she's in. I think one of the
great tragedies of film is that she
turned down Louis B. Mayer's offer
to play Annie Oakley in "Annie get
Your Gun."
Why would she have turned him down?
Good question.
Post by RFCSAC627N
She had played mostly supporting roles
at MGM.
She had played *exclusively* supporting roles at MGM. I don't think she ever
played the lead. She was typecast as a second-banana to the female lead.
Post by RFCSAC627N
You'd think she'd jump at the chance.
You would think that, but it didn't happen.

From what I've heard, my guess is that she didn't feel that she could carry a
picture by herself. I wish she would have given us a chance to find out,
because she's terrific in just about everything she did. She eve makes that
strange slopped-together film "The Great Morgan" watchable.
Post by RFCSAC627N
She was a wonderful talent, but
her film career just about evaporated
after she was dropped by MGM.
She really didn't have a film career after MGM, and I'm not sure that she
wanted one. She did two guest appearances in films after 1950, and
concentrated on live performing and television.


Tom Moran

"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
saxton R.F.M.
2004-02-07 21:57:19 UTC
Permalink
Virginia O'Brien. When I was iiving in L.A. in the 80s I used to go to
the Masquers Club to play Bingo every week and Virginia O'Brien was
there every time as a checker (the one who would verify the winners
card) and I found her very nice, She had put on a little weight from
her movie days.. Also playing were Eddie Foy Jr, Judy Canova and one of
the surviving Ritz Brothers.

Robert Saxton

MY NEW BOOK IS OUT! "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" ABOUT MY MOVIE CAREER!
www.rsaxtonbook.com
OR CALL 1-888-280-7715
Neil Midkiff
2004-02-05 23:02:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brent Walker
"Il Trovatore" is being performed next week at the Cerritos Performing
Arts Center here in south L.A. County, so SOMEBODY out there still
likes Giuseppe Verdi. Or is the "interminable bad" music you're
talking about "Cosi Cosa"? All I know is, good or bad, I can't get
that song out of my head for months every time I see NIGHT AT THE
OPERA.
I personally don't rank OPERA quite as high as the three best
Paramount Marxes, and it probably could've been cut down and been even
better, but it's still a classic, and what makes the finale so great
is that the Marx Brothers' aren't just creating comic anarchy at an
opera house, they're creating comic anarachy amongst a seriously
staged performance of one of the most famous operas ever written (and
I say that as not a huge opera fan myself).
For a long time the only parts of _Il trovatore_ I knew were the ones done
in _A Night at the Opera_. I accepted Pauline Kael's judgment that "the
Marx Brothers do to _Il trovatore_ what should have been done to _Il
trovatore_ long ago."

Then I got a chance to perform in it as a member of the chorus at Opera
San Jose (California) last year. Despite its rather extravagant plot and
its archaic libretto, Verdi's music is so compelling and so good at
illuminating the characters that the opera still works wonderfully well on
stage. Our production was quite successful with new operagoers as well as
the veteran audiences.

I showed the Marx Brothers version of it at a cast party for the opera
company -- several had never seen it! -- and we agreed that this is one of
the cases where great material is parodied greatly: where the better one
knows the original, the more humor one finds in the parody, but the parody
doesn't ruin the pleasure one has in the "straight" version.

I will certainly be one of the eager customers for the DVD of _A Night at
the Opera_.

I'll even take the risk of having "Cosi Cosa" playing on my mental jukebox
more often than it does now. Like Brent, I find that both it and "Alone"
are tenacious tunes.

-Neil Midkiff
Harlett O'Dowd
2004-02-05 23:44:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Neil Midkiff
Then I got a chance to perform in it as a member of the chorus at Opera
San Jose (California) last year. Despite its rather extravagant plot and
its archaic libretto, Verdi's music is so compelling and so good at
illuminating the characters that the opera still works wonderfully well on
stage. Our production was quite successful with new operagoers as well as
the veteran audiences.
I was in the chorus of RIGOLETTO, BALLO and TROVATORE - all in an 18 month
period and came to realize that many operas in general and mid-period Verdi
in particular is door-slamming farce with an unhappy ending. If you can
accept that these characters are SO lumbered with tunnel-vision they lose
all powers of rational thought (in exchange for ravishingly beautiful music
to sing) - then the plot of something like TROVATORE becomes palatable - or
at least easier to play truthfully.

And I love Azucena's "Nyah Nyah I win!" moment at the end.
Greta de Groat
2004-02-06 00:13:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Harlett O'Dowd
Post by Neil Midkiff
Then I got a chance to perform in it as a member of the chorus at Opera
San Jose (California) last year. Despite its rather extravagant plot and
its archaic libretto, Verdi's music is so compelling and so good at
illuminating the characters that the opera still works wonderfully well on
stage. Our production was quite successful with new operagoers as well as
the veteran audiences.
I was in the chorus of RIGOLETTO, BALLO and TROVATORE - all in an 18 month
period and came to realize that many operas in general and mid-period Verdi
in particular is door-slamming farce with an unhappy ending. If you can
accept that these characters are SO lumbered with tunnel-vision they lose
all powers of rational thought (in exchange for ravishingly beautiful music
to sing) - then the plot of something like TROVATORE becomes palatable - or
at least easier to play truthfully.
And I love Azucena's "Nyah Nyah I win!" moment at the end.
This one (and Vespri Siciliani and a few others) always makes me think of
someone backstage shouting: "30 seconds to curtain, everyone hurry up and die!"

greta
saxton R.F.M.
2004-02-06 17:41:30 UTC
Permalink
How much do you think Nargaret Dumont added to a Marx film?

MY NEW BOOK IS OUT! "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" ABOUT MY MOVIE CAREER!
www.rsaxtonbook.com
OR CALL 1-888-280-7715
W. Lydecker
2004-02-06 18:25:06 UTC
Permalink
It's always nice to see some of the silver screen crowd here. "Let's
go slumming..."
Eric Stott
2004-02-06 20:26:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by W. Lydecker
It's always nice to see some of the silver screen crowd here. "Let's
go slumming..."
"Let's go sit on the sewer"
Lokke Heiss
2004-02-06 21:41:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brent Walker
I personally don't rank OPERA quite as high as the three best
Paramount Marxes, and it probably could've been cut down and been even
better, but it's still a classic, and what makes the finale so great
is that the Marx Brothers' aren't just creating comic anarchy at an
opera house, they're creating comic anarachy amongst a seriously
staged performance of one of the most famous operas ever written (and
I say that as not a huge opera fan myself).
Almost all artists have a rise and fall of some kind in their career,
and
a lot of us Marxists consider Night to be the zenith of the team's
career. That is, a lot of us prefer DUCK SOUP or HORSE FEATHERS, but
looking backwards at their career, one sees that OPERA is their high
point in terms of contemporary popularity.

It's interesting to see that the elements that make OPERA work (more
of a plot,
anarchy is focused on easy prey of stuffy opera, characters more
sympathetic) these same elements were the beginning of their decline
in the later films, ie their success in being more traditional in this
one film would lead to their decline.

What the Marx Brothers missed most in these later films was pace,
which slows to a deadly crawl with Day at the Races. What a shame
they couldn't/wouldn't be able to work with Leo McCarey--might have
had another decade of brilliant films.
Brian Westley
2004-02-07 05:24:37 UTC
Permalink
***@yahoo.com (Lokke Heiss) writes:
...
Post by Lokke Heiss
What the Marx Brothers missed most in these later films was pace,
which slows to a deadly crawl with Day at the Races. What a shame
they couldn't/wouldn't be able to work with Leo McCarey--might have
had another decade of brilliant films.
Or used the Kalmar & Ruby script for "Go West"

---
Merlyn LeRoy
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-07 07:48:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lokke Heiss
Almost all artists have a rise and fall of some kind in their career,
and a lot of us Marxists....(le snip of interesting comments)
Well said Lokke.

Although ANATO is a fine film, I have always viewed it in a somewhat
bitter-sweet way, as it's the begining of the end for the Brothers Marx.

The boy wunderkind Thalberg, Mephistopheles to the Faustian Three.


JV
Feuillade
2004-02-07 18:25:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Although ANATO is a fine film, I have
always viewed it in a somewhat
bitter-sweet way, as it's the begining
of the end for the Brothers Marx.
The boy wunderkind Thalberg,
Mephistopheles to the Faustian Three.
I've discussed this before, but suffice it to say that this is utter crap.

The Marx Brothers always acknowledged that Irving Thalberg singlehandedly saved
their careers.

What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get progressively
worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact that Thalberg died in
1937.


Tom Moran

"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-07 18:33:18 UTC
Permalink
+Besides that MGM always screwed up good comedy with a lot of bad musical
numbers. Look at the Abbott and Costello movies for MGM -- if you can stand
them.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Although ANATO is a fine film, I have
always viewed it in a somewhat
bitter-sweet way, as it's the begining
of the end for the Brothers Marx.
The boy wunderkind Thalberg,
Mephistopheles to the Faustian Three.
I've discussed this before, but suffice it to say that this is utter crap.
The Marx Brothers always acknowledged that Irving Thalberg singlehandedly saved
their careers.
What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get
progressively
Post by Feuillade
worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact that Thalberg died in
1937.
Tom Moran
"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-07 20:34:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
+Besides that MGM always screwed up good comedy with a lot of bad
musical numbers. Look at the Abbott and Costello movies for MGM -- if
you can stand them.
Yes, and let's not forget the Keaton talkies. But I really don't care if
changing a successful comedy formula comes from MGM, or Thalberg, or both.


JV
James Neibaur
2004-02-07 21:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
Besides that MGM always screwed up good comedy with a lot of bad musical
numbers. Look at the Abbott and Costello movies for MGM -- if you can stand
them.
The A&C from Universal had the same problem. But that sort of thing sold
then. It has dated now.

JN
James Neibaur
2004-02-07 19:52:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get progressively
worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact that Thalberg died in
1937.
That can be proven by comparing Opera and Races to At The Circus, Go West,
and The Big Store.

JN
Feuillade
2004-02-07 20:26:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Neibaur
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers
to slide and their films to get
progressively worse in the late 30s
was not Thalberg, but the fact that
Thalberg died in 1937.
That can be proven by comparing
Opera and Races to At The Circus,
Go West, and The Big Store.
Absolutely. Thalberg was their champion, and after he died no one at the
studio really gave a damn about their films, which is why they went downhill so
quickly.

I also think that "A Day at the Races" would be a much better film if Thalberg
had been around to see it through to completion.

There are certainly things to criticize Thalberg for, but the way he dealt with
the Marx Brothers isn't one of them. Yes, their post-"Duck Soup" films aren't
as anarchic as their Paramount films -- but they wouldn't have been under any
circumstances, because of the enforcement of the Production Code.

Thalberg found a way to make the Marx Brothers viable under the new rules, and
he produced two of the best films they ever made. He saved their careers, as
the Marx Brothers were always quick to acknowledge.

Anyone who thinks differently just isn't dealing with reality.


Tom Moran

"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
Brent Walker
2004-02-08 00:50:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Neibaur
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get progressively
worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact that Thalberg died in
1937.
That can be proven by comparing Opera and Races to At The Circus, Go West,
and The Big Store.
JN
Except that I think RACES is slightly overrated (or at least overlong)
while GO WEST is a bit underrated (it has two of my favorite MGM Marx
Bros sequences--the train station and the stage coach scenes).

Brent Walker
James Neibaur
2004-02-08 04:23:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brent Walker
Except that I think RACES is slightly overrated (or at least overlong)
while GO WEST is a bit underrated (it has two of my favorite MGM Marx
Bros sequences--the train station and the stage coach scenes).
I guess we differ on these. I actually prefer Races among all the MGM Marx
films, and think Go West is the weakest of the bunch.

and the world goes round and round....

JN
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-07 20:31:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Although ANATO is a fine film, I have
always viewed it in a somewhat
bitter-sweet way, as it's the begining
of the end for the Brothers Marx.
The boy wunderkind Thalberg,
Mephistopheles to the Faustian Three.
I've discussed this before, but suffice it to say that this is utter crap.
The Marx Brothers always acknowledged that Irving Thalberg
singlehandedly saved their careers.
Yes, Thalberg signed the Brothers to a nice contract and saved
the Brother's careers -period. And, if the Marx's were claiming that
Thalberg rescued them artistically, then I beg to differ.

It's the Thalberg elements (sappy love songs, sappy musical numbers,
sappy young love interests) which put the Brothers into the MGM lolipop
world, softened their bite, and ruined their artistic canvas as a whole.
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has plenty of this fluff, but Cocoanuts was
written for Broadway, and the later, original screenplay Paramounts are
more successful than Cocoanuts -just as they're more successful than Opera
& Races.
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get
progressively worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact
that Thalberg died in 1937.
The fact that Thalberg died in '37 proves nothing. By the time IT died, he
had already done his job and carved the terminally ill, cotton candy mold
that the Brothers would be "promoted" to throughout their MGM years. The
Marx's films were already becoming worse when Thalberg was alive -Opera
isn't as good as Duck Soup, Races isn't as good as Opera.

JV
James Neibaur
2004-02-07 21:27:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
It's the Thalberg elements (sappy love songs, sappy musical numbers,
sappy young love interests) which put the Brothers into the MGM lolipop
world, softened their bite, and ruined their artistic canvas as a whole.
But those are the things that helped make the films successful at the time.
Opera and Races came out just fine. Recently there has been some
revisionist thinking indicating that they have always been overrated and are
no better than any post-Duck Soup films. I disagree.

After Thalberg died, the comedy itself was more labored, and the musical
numbers progressively worse. Granted Allen Jones is an ersatz Zeppo at
best, but the subsequent Kenny Baker and Tony Martin were ersatz Allen
Jones. The fact that The Big Store, their last MGM film, ends with a
slapstick sequence done almost entirely by stunt men is a notable
culmination.

Had Thalberg lived, it is likely Circus, West, and Store would at least be
as good as Opera and Races.

JN
George Shelps
2004-02-08 04:45:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Neibaur
After Thalberg died, the comedy itself
was more labored, and the musical
numbers progressively worse. Granted
Allen Jones is an ersatz Zeppo at best,
but the subsequent Kenny Baker and
Tony Martin were ersatz Allen Jones.
I think Allan was a bit more than an
ersatz Zeppo. He was a trained opera
singer who could have had a career
with the Met.

But as much as Allan liked his part in
OPERA, he disliked it in RACES, in
which he was a Nelson Eddy-clone.
complete with pipe. (I knew Allan
and this was his viewpoint.)

Perhaps Thalberg's death was responsible, but RACES fails
to integrate the love story with
the comedy and to provide the
lovers with anything more than a
cardboard romance.










__________________________________


"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
__William Faulkner
saxton R.F.M.
2004-02-07 22:03:46 UTC
Permalink
I have always heard thgat most critics consider DUCK SOUP their greatest
but it had a great director. I think MONKEY BUSINESS would have been
much better if good ole Margaret had been in it to harass Groucho.
Robert

MY NEW BOOK IS OUT! "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" ABOUT MY MOVIE CAREER!
www.rsaxtonbook.com
OR CALL 1-888-280-7715
lynn
2004-02-08 02:34:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by saxton R.F.M.
I have always heard thgat most critics consider DUCK SOUP their greatest
but it had a great director. I think MONKEY BUSINESS would have been
much better if good ole Margaret had been in it to harass Groucho.
and i think that thelma todd added a bit more to the marxes than dumont.
certainly, it made groucho look more appealing.

plus, she was playing a gangster's girl a role which, unfortunately, she
seemed to have been in real life, depending on what sources you believe.

i liked the thalberg marx films, but cringed mightily when they threw
groucho down the stairs. that would have never happened to firefly, or
spaulding.

jamison
Feuillade
2004-02-08 05:06:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Although ANATO is a fine film, I have
always viewed it in a somewhat
bitter-sweet way, as it's the begining
of the end for the Brothers Marx.
The boy wunderkind Thalberg,
Mephistopheles to the Faustian
Three.
I've discussed this before, but suffice
it to say that this is utter crap.
The Marx Brothers always
acknowledged that Irving Thalberg
singlehandedly saved their careers.
Yes, Thalberg signed the Brothers to
a nice contract and saved the Brother's
careers -period.
So unless you wish the Brothers' career to have come to a screeching halt in
1933, you have Irving Thalberg to thank.
Post by Joseph Vitale
And, if the Marx's were claiming that
Thalberg rescued them artistically,
then I beg to differ.
It's the Thalberg elements (sappy love
songs, sappy musical numbers,
sappy young love interests) which
put the Brothers into the MGM lolipop
world, softened their bite, and ruined
their artistic canvas as a whole.
You're missing the point.

The Marx Brothers movies you enjoy were all made before the Production Code
went into effect.

After 1934 those films could no longer be made.

The Marx Brothers would have to be reinvented if their careers were to
continue.

So it seems to me that you're criticizing Thalberg for not doing what he would
have been in no position to do in any event.

Does that seem fair to you? Would you criticize Napoleon for not using nuclear
weapons?
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has plenty
of this fluff, but Cocoanuts was written
for Broadway, and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck Soup" was their biggest bomb at the box
office.
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] just as they're more successful
than Opera & Races.
I sincerely doubt that "Monket Business" and "Horse Feathers" were more
successful at the box office than "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the
Races."
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to
slide and their films to get
progressively worse in the late 30s
was not Thalberg, but the fact
that Thalberg died in 1937.
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and carved
the terminally ill, cotton candy mold
that the Brothers would be "promoted"
to throughout their MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had made their most successful film and was in
the middle of making their second most successful film (which would have turned
out even better had he lived to complete it).

Once again, you are criticizing him for not doing what he would not have able
to do anyway.

By 1935 it was no longer possible to make the kinds of films that the Marx
Brothers had made at Paramount -- the same way that it was no longer possible
for Mae West to make the kind of films that *she'd* been making.

This simple fact seems to be beyond you.

The Marx Brothers had a simple choice: adapt to the new reality or stop making
films. Thalberg helped them adapt, and gave them new careers.

I see this as a good thing. If you don't, that's your opinion. But the
logical extension of your position means that you wish the Marx Brothers had
made no films at all after 1933.


Tom Moran

"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-08 05:27:08 UTC
Permalink
But most of us don't care that the pre-code films could no longer be made
in the post-code thirties -- we care about the quality of the movies - and
the MGMs simply were not good movies. If you have to make exuses for why
they are bad -- that does not make them good - it makes them bad, but with a
bunch of excuses. I
--
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home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
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A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
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Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Although ANATO is a fine film, I have
always viewed it in a somewhat
bitter-sweet way, as it's the begining
of the end for the Brothers Marx.
The boy wunderkind Thalberg,
Mephistopheles to the Faustian
Three.
I've discussed this before, but suffice
it to say that this is utter crap.
The Marx Brothers always
acknowledged that Irving Thalberg
singlehandedly saved their careers.
Yes, Thalberg signed the Brothers to
a nice contract and saved the Brother's
careers -period.
So unless you wish the Brothers' career to have come to a screeching halt in
1933, you have Irving Thalberg to thank.
Post by Joseph Vitale
And, if the Marx's were claiming that
Thalberg rescued them artistically,
then I beg to differ.
It's the Thalberg elements (sappy love
songs, sappy musical numbers,
sappy young love interests) which
put the Brothers into the MGM lolipop
world, softened their bite, and ruined
their artistic canvas as a whole.
You're missing the point.
The Marx Brothers movies you enjoy were all made before the Production Code
went into effect.
After 1934 those films could no longer be made.
The Marx Brothers would have to be reinvented if their careers were to
continue.
So it seems to me that you're criticizing Thalberg for not doing what he would
have been in no position to do in any event.
Does that seem fair to you? Would you criticize Napoleon for not using nuclear
weapons?
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has plenty
of this fluff, but Cocoanuts was written
for Broadway, and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck Soup" was their biggest bomb at the box
office.
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] just as they're more successful
than Opera & Races.
I sincerely doubt that "Monket Business" and "Horse Feathers" were more
successful at the box office than "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the
Races."
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to
slide and their films to get
progressively worse in the late 30s
was not Thalberg, but the fact
that Thalberg died in 1937.
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and carved
the terminally ill, cotton candy mold
that the Brothers would be "promoted"
to throughout their MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had made their most successful film and was in
the middle of making their second most successful film (which would have turned
out even better had he lived to complete it).
Once again, you are criticizing him for not doing what he would not have able
to do anyway.
By 1935 it was no longer possible to make the kinds of films that the Marx
Brothers had made at Paramount -- the same way that it was no longer possible
for Mae West to make the kind of films that *she'd* been making.
This simple fact seems to be beyond you.
The Marx Brothers had a simple choice: adapt to the new reality or stop making
films. Thalberg helped them adapt, and gave them new careers.
I see this as a good thing. If you don't, that's your opinion. But the
logical extension of your position means that you wish the Marx Brothers had
made no films at all after 1933.
Tom Moran
"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
Feuillade
2004-02-08 06:44:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
But most of us don't care that the
pre-code films could no longer be
made in the post-code thirties -- [...]
Then if that's the case you should stop complaining that the MGM Marx Brothers
movies were not as anarchic as the Paramount Marx Brothers movies. Because
there's no way they could have been.
Post by Tony Spadaro
[...] we care about the quality of the
movies - and the MGMs simply were
not good movies.
This is simply not true. Their first two films at MGM (the two that Thalberg
produced) are two of the best films they ever made.
Post by Tony Spadaro
If you have to make exuses for why
they are bad -- that does not make
them good - it makes them bad, but
with a bunch of excuses.
Two points need to be made here:

1) I am not making excuses.

2) They (and by "they" I mean their first two films at MGM) are not bad.


Tom Moran

"Happiness is the best preparation for misery.''
-- Frank Richards
Lloyd Fonvielle
2004-02-08 08:27:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
Post by Tony Spadaro
But most of us don't care that the
pre-code films could no longer be
made in the post-code thirties -- [...]
Then if that's the case you should stop complaining that the MGM Marx Brothers
movies were not as anarchic as the Paramount Marx Brothers movies. Because
there's no way they could have been.
This is an intriguing theory, but could you supply examples of lines or
routines from "Duck Soup" which you think would have been banned under
the new code?
Eric Stott
2004-02-08 10:07:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
Post by Feuillade
Post by Tony Spadaro
But most of us don't care that the
pre-code films could no longer be
made in the post-code thirties -- [...]
Then if that's the case you should stop complaining that the MGM Marx Brothers
movies were not as anarchic as the Paramount Marx Brothers movies. Because
there's no way they could have been.
This is an intriguing theory, but could you supply examples of lines or
routines from "Duck Soup" which you think would have been banned under
the new code?
Harpo paddling his feet in the lemonade?
The scene where we THINK he's rushing upstairs to a woman's bed?

Stott
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-08 19:09:30 UTC
Permalink
I am not complaining that the movies were not as anarchic. I am
complaining that the movies are not good.
Bad is bad, with the exception of roughly 20 minutes of Marx Bros in
some of those MGMs (some didn't have 5 minutes) the later Marx Brothers
films are the usual overblown MGM musical tripes.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
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Post by Eric Stott
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
Post by Feuillade
Post by Tony Spadaro
But most of us don't care that the
pre-code films could no longer be
made in the post-code thirties -- [...]
Then if that's the case you should stop complaining that the MGM Marx Brothers
movies were not as anarchic as the Paramount Marx Brothers movies.
Because
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
Post by Feuillade
there's no way they could have been.
This is an intriguing theory, but could you supply examples of lines or
routines from "Duck Soup" which you think would have been banned under
the new code?
Harpo paddling his feet in the lemonade?
The scene where we THINK he's rushing upstairs to a woman's bed?
Stott
Feuillade
2004-02-08 20:51:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
I am not complaining that the movies
were not as anarchic. I am complaining
that the movies are not good.
As a generalization, this is simply not true.
Post by Tony Spadaro
Bad is bad, with the exception of
roughly 20 minutes of Marx Bros in
some of those MGMs (some didn't
have 5 minutes) the later Marx Brothers
films are the usual overblown MGM
musical tripes.
If you're discussing their post-1937 MGM films, you may have a point.

But describing "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the Races" as "the usual
overblown MGM musical tripes" is just ludicrous.

They are not only two of the best films the Marx Brothers ever made, but two of
the best film comedies ever.

If you don't think so, you're entitled to your opinion.

But I would take that opinion about as seriously as that of someone who says: "
'War and Peace'? What a bore!"


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-08 22:24:44 UTC
Permalink
And you are entitled to your opinion too - even if it is based on poor
taste.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Feuillade
Post by Tony Spadaro
I am not complaining that the movies
were not as anarchic. I am complaining
that the movies are not good.
As a generalization, this is simply not true.
Post by Tony Spadaro
Bad is bad, with the exception of
roughly 20 minutes of Marx Bros in
some of those MGMs (some didn't
have 5 minutes) the later Marx Brothers
films are the usual overblown MGM
musical tripes.
If you're discussing their post-1937 MGM films, you may have a point.
But describing "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the Races" as "the usual
overblown MGM musical tripes" is just ludicrous.
They are not only two of the best films the Marx Brothers ever made, but two of
the best film comedies ever.
If you don't think so, you're entitled to your opinion.
But I would take that opinion about as seriously as that of someone who says: "
'War and Peace'? What a bore!"
Tom Moran
"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Feuillade
2004-02-08 22:44:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
And you are entitled to your opinion
too - even if it is based on poor taste.
Uh-huh.


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Lloyd Fonvielle
2004-02-08 19:34:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
This is an intriguing theory, but could you supply examples of lines or
routines from "Duck Soup" which you think would have been banned under
the new code?
Harpo paddling his feet in the lemonade?
The scene where we THINK he's rushing upstairs to a woman's bed?
Would these scenes really have been cut from a comedy? I'm thinking of
the recent discussion of all the things Chaplin got away with in "Modern
Times".
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-08 22:26:05 UTC
Permalink
And all those lines were in those films when they played on TV in the 50s to
boot. Including "I'm defending this lady's honour, which is more than she
ever did."
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
This is an intriguing theory, but could you supply examples of lines or
routines from "Duck Soup" which you think would have been banned under
the new code?
Harpo paddling his feet in the lemonade?
The scene where we THINK he's rushing upstairs to a woman's bed?
Would these scenes really have been cut from a comedy? I'm thinking of
the recent discussion of all the things Chaplin got away with in "Modern
Times".
lynn
2004-02-08 20:26:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
Post by Feuillade
Post by Tony Spadaro
But most of us don't care that the
pre-code films could no longer be
made in the post-code thirties -- [...]
Then if that's the case you should stop complaining that the MGM Marx Brothers
movies were not as anarchic as the Paramount Marx Brothers movies.
Because
Post by Eric Stott
Post by Lloyd Fonvielle
Post by Feuillade
there's no way they could have been.
This is an intriguing theory, but could you supply examples of lines or
routines from "Duck Soup" which you think would have been banned under
the new code?
Harpo paddling his feet in the lemonade?
The scene where we THINK he's rushing upstairs to a woman's bed?
the scene where he's in bed with the horse.

"this is another thing i picked up at a dance parlor"?

perhaps some of raquel torres' outfits.

"i'd rather dance with the cows......" (no, that's just being silly...)

the thing is, would they have been as strict with some of groucho's asides
as they were with mae west?

jamison
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-09 05:10:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
It's the Thalberg elements (sappy love
songs, sappy musical numbers,
sappy young love interests) which
put the Brothers into the MGM lolipop
world, softened their bite, and ruined
their artistic canvas as a whole.
You're missing the point.
The Marx Brothers movies you enjoy were all made before the Production
Code went into effect.
After 1934 those films could no longer be made.
The Marx Brothers would have to be reinvented if their careers were to
continue.
So it seems to me that you're criticizing Thalberg for not doing what
he would have been in no position to do in any event.
So today your excusing Thalberg's hell-bent desire to humanize and dilute
the Brother's act as if he were a man chained down by the production code.
No, I'm sorry, your missing the point.

Thalberg was motivated by Thalberg (and) an inborn belief that he could
better serve the Marx Brothers (and MGM's revenues) by broadening their
appeal through harmony, happy musical endings, and an over-all "feel good,
evil has been thwarted" plot synthesis. Throw in the Production Code in
1929 and the Marx Brother's Paramounts might of had a very few seconds
sniped here and there, but the integrity of their comedy formula (that was
refined over many years in vaudeville and Broadway) would still be there.
The Production Code is a mute point.
Post by Feuillade
Does that seem fair to you? Would you criticize Napoleon for not
using nuclear weapons?
No, but I would criticize Napoleon if he had attempted to make his
army friendlier:-(
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has plenty
of this fluff, but Cocoanuts was written
for Broadway, and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck Soup" was their biggest bomb at
the box office.
When did I ever mention box office? Artistic success is obviously what I'm
referring to. And, if tomorrow your going to change your argument to infer
that Thalberg had no choice in his meddlesome doings because of box office
pressures, then that's all well and good, but it doesn't do much for the
artistic integrity of a successful comedy formula.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and carved
the terminally ill, cotton candy mold
that the Brothers would be "promoted"
to throughout their MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had made their most successful film and
was in the middle of making their second most successful film (which
would have turned out even better had he lived to complete it).
Are you arguing dollars or aesthetics? They are not interchangeable. If
your arguing aesthetics, it is not of my belief that "Who Dat Man" would be
any better had Thalberg lived on -even if Thalberg had made Harpo sing it
out proud.
Post by Feuillade
Once again, you are criticizing him for not doing what he would not
have able to do anyway.
Once again, Production Code, not applicable to this argument.
Post by Feuillade
By 1935 it was no longer possible to make the kinds of films that the
Marx Brothers had made at Paramount.
Entirely possible, as I have said, the institution of the PC was not the
humbling factor that prohibited the Brother's ability to deliver comedy
that would survive the test of time. It was the plan of one man to coerce
and distort a shtick into a more representative and applicable MGM Brand
identity.

-- the same way that it was no
Post by Feuillade
longer possible for Mae West to make the kind of films that *she'd*
been making.
This simple fact seems to be beyond you.
And, an acceptance of Irving Thalberg's own distorted vision, and the
power to institute that vision, seems to be a concept that remains in your
mind, without grasp, shrouded by extraneous factors thrown in support of a
flimsy argument.
Post by Feuillade
The Marx Brothers had a simple choice: adapt to the new reality or
stop making films. Thalberg helped them adapt, and gave them new
careers.
I agree that Thalberg helped the Brothers make more money, that the
Brothers liked Thalberg and Thalberg liked the Brothers, that Thalberg
was good man, trying to do the best thing for his studio. But the results
speak for themselves.
Post by Feuillade
I see this as a good thing. If you don't, that's your opinion. But
the logical extension of your position means that you wish the Marx
Brothers had made no films at all after 1933.
All good things must come to end, but I believe Thalberg put the Brothers
onto an express train to their twilight, that might have otherwise produce
more biting, socially relevant, less dated comedy, -had others been pulling
the strings in the front office.

JV
Feuillade
2004-02-09 06:17:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
It's the Thalberg elements (sappy love
songs, sappy musical numbers,
sappy young love interests) which
put the Brothers into the MGM lolipop
world, softened their bite, and ruined
their artistic canvas as a whole.
You're missing the point.
The Marx Brothers movies you enjoy
were all made before the Production
Code went into effect.
After 1934 those films could no longer
be made.
The Marx Brothers would have to be
reinvented if their careers were to
continue.
So it seems to me that you're
criticizing Thalberg for not doing
what he would have been in no
position to do in any event.
So today your excusing Thalberg's
hell-bent desire to humanize and dilute
the Brother's act as if he were a man
chained down by the production code.
No, I'm sorry, your missing the point.
No -- *you're* missing the point.

The Marx Brothers were box office poison in 1933. "Duck Soup" was their
biggest bomb.

Thalberg did not "dilute" them. He gave them their careers back.

This is what the brothers themselves said.

You have an argument, it's with the Marx Brothers themselves.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Thalberg was motivated by Thalberg
(and) an inborn belief that he could
better serve the Marx Brothers (and
MGM's revenues) by broadening their
appeal through harmony, happy musical
endings, and an over-all "feel good,
evil has been thwarted" plot synthesis.
Throw in the Production Code in
1929 and the Marx Brother's Paramounts
might of had a very few seconds
sniped here and there, but the integrity
of their comedy formula (that was
refined over many years in vaudeville
and Broadway) would still be there.
The Production Code is a mute point.
It's moot point.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Does that seem fair to you? Would
you criticize Napoleon for not
using nuclear weapons?
No, but I would criticize Napoleon if he
had attempted to make his army
friendlier:-(
That's a moot point.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has
plenty of this fluff, but Cocoanuts
was written for Broadway, [...]
And is exactly the same kind of film that you're regretting they didn't make
later?

How many ways can you contradict yourself?
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck
Soup" was their biggest bomb at
the box office.
When did I ever mention box office?
Artistic success is obviously what I'm
referring to.
And "artistic succcess" is a totally subjective matter. It's your *opinion*.
Post by Joseph Vitale
And, if tomorrow your going to change
your argument to infer that Thalberg
had no choice in his meddlesome doings
because of box office pressures, then
that's all well and good, but it doesn't
do much for the artistic integrity of a
successful comedy formula.
Your argument is not with me.

Your argument is with the Marx Brothers.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and
carved the terminally ill, cotton
candy mold that the Brothers would
be "promoted" to throughout their
MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had
made their most successful film and
was in the middle of making their
second most successful film (which
would have turned out even better had
he lived to complete it).
Are you arguing dollars or aesthetics?
They are not interchangeable. If
your arguing aesthetics, it is not of
my belief that "Who Dat Man" would
be any better had Thalberg lived on -
even if Thalberg had made Harpo sing it
out proud.
You're assuming that the number would have stayed in the film. You have no
basis for making that assumption.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Once again, you are criticizing him
for not doing what he would not
have able to do anyway.
Once again, Production Code, not
applicable to this argument.
I would respectfully disagree.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
By 1935 it was no longer possible to
make the kinds of films that the
Marx Brothers had made at Paramount.
Entirely possible, as I have said, the
institution of the PC was not the
humbling factor that prohibited the
Brother's ability to deliver comedy
that would survive the test of time. It
was the plan of one man to coerce
and distort a shtick into a more
representative and applicable MGM
Brand identity.
Once again, the Marx Brothers had no problem with this. At all.

They always claimed that Thalberg saved their careers.

If you have an argument, it's with the Marx Brothers. And since you don't want
to admit that, you prefer to make Thalberg the villain.

That's nonsense.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
-- the same way that it was no longer
possible for Mae West to make the
kind of films that *she'd* been making.
This simple fact seems to be beyond
you.
And, an acceptance of Irving Thalberg's
own distorted vision, [...]
A vision that the brothers enthusiastically approved of. You seem to be
unwilling to accept that simple, blatant, obvious fact.
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] and the power to institute that
vision, seems to be a concept that
remains in your mind, without grasp,
shrouded by extraneous factors thrown
in support of a flimsy argument.
My argument is far from flimsy. If you want to think so, however, feel free.

I'm sure that if you had your way, Woody Allen would have made "Sleeper" over
and over again, instead of making "Annie Hall."

If you prefer "Duck Soup" to "A Night at the Opera," fine, so be it.

But your casting Thalberg as a straw man villain is ludicrous -- especially
given how the brothers themselves felt about him.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
The Marx Brothers had a simple
choice: adapt to the new reality or
stop making films. Thalberg helped
them adapt, and gave them new
careers.
I agree that Thalberg helped the
Brothers make more money, [...]
No -- not make more money. He helped them have a career. Period.

It is quite possible that, without Irving Thalberg, the Marx Brothers would
have been washed up in films after 1933.
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] that the Brothers liked Thalberg
and Thalberg liked the Brothers, that
Thalberg was good man, trying to do
the best thing for his studio. But the
results speak for themselves.
To you. Subjectively.

You want to impose your subjective opinion on everyone else and claim it as
objective fact.

These, however, *are* the objective facts.

1) "Duck Soup," however well-regarded iot may be today, was at the time the
Marx Brothers' biggest flop.

2) They were washed up after 1933.

3) Irving Thalberg took a chance on them.

4) Thalberg got them two Pulitzer-Prize writers to write a screenplay for them.

5) Because the brothers asked, he allowed them to go on the road with some of
the material so they could perfect their timing.

6) The result was two of the biggest hits of their careers.

*Those* are the facts, deny them as long as you like, but they will *still* be
the facts when you have stopped bloviating.


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-10 01:48:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
The Marx Brothers were box office poison in 1933. "Duck Soup" was
their biggest bomb.
As I said, you seem to judge artistic value upon dollars. It's difficult
to reason with somebody who thinks like that.
Post by Feuillade
Thalberg did not "dilute" them. He gave them their careers back.
And we all know the result, a fading wasteland in ol'Thalberg, MGM-land.
Post by Feuillade
This is what the brothers themselves said.
You have an argument, it's with the Marx Brothers themselves.
I don't blame the Marx Brothers for taking a good deal when it was offered.
My argument is with Tom "feuillade: Moran, who seems to forgive intrusive
artistic management -even after the results have been made known.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Thalberg was motivated by Thalberg
(and) an inborn belief that he could
better serve the Marx Brothers (and
MGM's revenues) by broadening their
appeal through harmony, happy musical
endings, and an over-all "feel good,
evil has been thwarted" plot synthesis.
Throw in the Production Code in
1929 and the Marx Brother's Paramounts
might of had a very few seconds
sniped here and there, but the integrity
of their comedy formula (that was
refined over many years in vaudeville
and Broadway) would still be there.
The Production Code is a mute point.
It's moot point.
It's moot and mute (a point unable to articulate the defense it was
intended for:-(
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Does that seem fair to you? Would
you criticize Napoleon for not
using nuclear weapons?
No, but I would criticize Napoleon if he
had attempted to make his army
friendlier:-(
That's a moot point.
My point was quite comparable. It's your analogy of Napoleon and nuclear
weapons which is science fiction.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has
plenty of this fluff, but Cocoanuts
was written for Broadway, [...]
And is exactly the same kind of film that you're regretting they
didn't make later?
How many ways can you contradict yourself?
There is no contradiction. As I said, (see below), the later Paramounts
without the sappy material are better than Cocoanuts.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck
Soup" was their biggest bomb at
the box office.
When did I ever mention box office?
Artistic success is obviously what I'm
referring to.
And "artistic succcess" is a totally subjective matter. It's your *opinion*.
Yes it is.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And, if tomorrow your going to change
your argument to infer that Thalberg
had no choice in his meddlesome doings
because of box office pressures, then
that's all well and good, but it doesn't
do much for the artistic integrity of a
successful comedy formula.
Your argument is not with me.
Your argument is with the Marx Brothers.
(See above.)
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and
carved the terminally ill, cotton
candy mold that the Brothers would
be "promoted" to throughout their
MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had
made their most successful film and
was in the middle of making their
second most successful film (which
would have turned out even better had
he lived to complete it).
Are you arguing dollars or aesthetics?
They are not interchangeable. If
your arguing aesthetics, it is not of
my belief that "Who Dat Man" would
be any better had Thalberg lived on -
even if Thalberg had made Harpo sing it
out proud.
You're assuming that the number would have stayed in the film. You
have no basis for making that assumption.
It was a large-scaled, "important", musical number. This is a very adequate
basis for believing it would have stayed in. You have no basis for assuming
it would have been cut. Unless, of course, you agree it was bad:-)
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Once again, you are criticizing him
for not doing what he would not
have able to do anyway.
Once again, Production Code, not
applicable to this argument.
I would respectfully disagree.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
By 1935 it was no longer possible to
make the kinds of films that the
Marx Brothers had made at Paramount.
Entirely possible, as I have said, the
institution of the PC was not the
humbling factor that prohibited the
Brother's ability to deliver comedy
that would survive the test of time. It
was the plan of one man to coerce
and distort a shtick into a more
representative and applicable MGM
Brand identity.
Once again, the Marx Brothers had no problem with this. At all.
That's too bad. Their later films might have been more highly regarded if
they had a problem with it.
Post by Feuillade
They always claimed that Thalberg saved their careers.
You said that several times, but it still doesn't make it anymore relevant
(to my argument) that Thalberg's decisions resulted in poorer, dated film
making.
Post by Feuillade
If you have an argument, it's with the Marx Brothers. And since you
don't want to admit that, you prefer to make Thalberg the villain.
That's nonsense.
A villain knows that what he is doing is bad. I don't think Thalberg fits
my definition of a villian.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
-- the same way that it was no longer
possible for Mae West to make the
kind of films that *she'd* been making.
This simple fact seems to be beyond
you.
And, an acceptance of Irving Thalberg's
own distorted vision, [...]
A vision that the brothers enthusiastically approved of. You seem to
be unwilling to accept that simple, blatant, obvious fact.
Again, your conveniently ignoring my argument. Who ever said the Brothers
did not approve of Thalberg?
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] and the power to institute that
vision, seems to be a concept that
remains in your mind, without grasp,
shrouded by extraneous factors thrown
in support of a flimsy argument.
My argument is far from flimsy. If you want to think so, however, feel free.
I'm sure that if you had your way, Woody Allen would have made
"Sleeper" over and over again, instead of making "Annie Hall."
I like Annie Hall more than Sleeper.

As funny as it was, I think your Napoleon/nucleur weapons analogy was
better.
Post by Feuillade
If you prefer "Duck Soup" to "A Night at the Opera," fine, so be it.
But your casting Thalberg as a straw man villain is ludicrous --
especially given how the brothers themselves felt about him.
Again your repeating yourself, it doesn't help your argument.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
The Marx Brothers had a simple
choice: adapt to the new reality or
stop making films. Thalberg helped
them adapt, and gave them new
careers.
I agree that Thalberg helped the
Brothers make more money, [...]
No -- not make more money. He helped them have a career. Period.
It is quite possible that, without Irving Thalberg, the Marx Brothers
would have been washed up in films after 1933.
My argument is not that Thalberg signed the Marx Brothers, my argument is
with what he did with THEIR comedy.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] that the Brothers liked Thalberg
and Thalberg liked the Brothers, that
Thalberg was good man, trying to do
the best thing for his studio. But the
results speak for themselves.
To you. Subjectively.
Yes, as I prefer not to judge artistic results based upon contracts and
dollar signs as you seem to do.
Post by Feuillade
You want to impose your subjective opinion on everyone else and claim
it as objective fact.
My argument is with one person and his interpretation of the relative worth
of "filmaking by Thalberg."
Post by Feuillade
These, however, *are* the objective facts.
1) "Duck Soup," however well-regarded iot may be today, was at the
time the Marx Brothers' biggest flop.
So Thalberg could take advantage of the Brothers when they're down?
Post by Feuillade
2) They were washed up after 1933.
3) Irving Thalberg took a chance on them.
Yes, and the results of his "taking a chance" was the fading, poorer, MGM
years.
Post by Feuillade
4) Thalberg got them two Pulitzer-Prize writers to write a screenplay for them.
Too bad those Pulitzer-Prize winners couldn't convince Thalberg to leave
Allen Jones at home.
Post by Feuillade
5) Because the brothers asked, he allowed them to go on the road with
some of the material so they could perfect their timing.
That's good. But it didn't help Thalberg's watered-down Marx Brothers
achieve the same long lasting comedy they previously (already) had.
Post by Feuillade
6) The result was two of the biggest hits of their careers.
Again, dollars.
Post by Feuillade
*Those* are the facts, deny them as long as you like, but they will
*still* be the facts when you have stopped bloviating.
Bloviating? I am only supporting why I believe Irving Thalberg was
ultimately not a good thing for the artistic integrity of the Marx
Brothers.

JV
James Neibaur
2004-02-10 03:27:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
I am only supporting why I believe Irving Thalberg was
ultimately not a good thing for the artistic integrity of the Marx
Brothers.
Actually the musical numbers that have since dated were quite popular in
1935 and 1937. So what Thalberg did was right for the time. If he hadn't,
then Duck Soup may have been their final film and they would likely have
been considered a briefly popular act that faded quickly, and not
subsequently revived.

So, it is good that Thalberg came along when he did.

Regarding A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the Races; I don't consider
either of them bad films. In fact, I prefer either of them to Coconuts or
Animal Crackers. I agree Allen Jones is not interesting. Neither are the
numbers in Coconuts.

After Races I agree with the assessment that the Marx comedy is heavily
diluted and only sporadically funny. And the musical numbers got worse
(Kenny Baker and Tony Martin make Allen Jones look like all four Beatles at
once). But there are still some moments in Go West, The Big Store, and At
The Circus to make them at least somewhat amusing.

I will go out on a limb and state that A Night in Casablanca is their
funniest film after 1937.

It seems to be only recently that A Night at the Opera and A Day at the
Races have been re-evaluated as weak films. I recall when they were
considered the two best. I guess times and tastes change, even among film
buffs.

JN
Feuillade
2004-02-10 05:14:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Neibaur
Post by Joseph Vitale
I am only supporting why I believe
Irving Thalberg was ultimately not a
good thing for the artistic integrity
of the Marx Brothers.
Actually the musical numbers that
have since dated were quite popular in
1935 and 1937. So what Thalberg did
was right for the time. If he hadn't,
then Duck Soup may have been their
final film and they would likely have
been considered a briefly popular act
that faded quickly, and not subsequently
revived.
So, it is good that Thalberg came along
when he did.
Regarding A Night at the Opera, and
A Day at the Races; I don't consider
either of them bad films. In fact, I prefer
either of them to Coconuts or
Animal Crackers. I agree Allen Jones
is not interesting. Neither are the
numbers in Coconuts.
After Races I agree with the assessment
that the Marx comedy is heavily diluted
and only sporadically funny. And the
musical numbers got worse (Kenny
Baker and Tony Martin make Allen
Jones look like all four Beatles at
once). But there are still some moments
in Go West, The Big Store, and At
The Circus to make them at least
somewhat amusing.
I will go out on a limb and state that
A Night in Casablanca is their
funniest film after 1937.
It seems to be only recently that A
Night at the Opera and A Day at the
Races have been re-evaluated as weak
films. I recall when they were
considered the two best. I guess times
and tastes change, even among film
buffs.
At last, a voice of sanity.

I agree with just about every word of the above.


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
George Shelps
2004-02-10 17:55:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Neibaur
Joseph Vitale at
Post by Joseph Vitale
I am only supporting why I believe
Irving Thalberg was ultimately not a
good thing for the artistic integrity
of the Marx Brothers.
Actually the musical numbers that
have since dated were quite popular in
1935 and 1937. So what Thalberg did
was right for the time. If he hadn't,
then Duck Soup may have been their
final film and they would likely have
been considered a briefly popular act
that faded quickly, and not
subsequently revived.
I will go out on a limb and state that
A Night in Casablanca is their
funniest film after 1937.
buzz-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-
(sound of power saw on limb)
Post by James Neibaur
It seems to be only recently that A
Night at the Opera and A Day at the
Races have been re-evaluated as weak
films. I recall when they were
considered the two best. I guess times
and tastes change, even among film
buffs.
Thalberg's princpal innovation was to make the Brothers more
sympathetic.

There was even a scene of Groucho handing a love letter from Allan Jones
to Kitty Carlisle and telling her to take it regularly, like aspirin.

The musical format stemmed from the
opera setting, but was less successful
when transferred to other surroundings.

DAY AT THE RACES has wonderful
comedy scenes, but the Allan Jones-
Maureen O'Sullivan romance was cardboard (as I mentioned, Allan himself
disliked the part).

Nevertheless, the Thalberg formula
worked superbly in OPERA and I, too,
love that film and rank it at the top
or at least equal to DUCK SOUP.

But repeating a formula endlessly
was (and is) the bane of Hollywood
movies and diminishing returns followed.
I don't think RACES works as well as
OPERA did.
Post by James Neibaur
At last, a voice of sanity.
As if disagreeing with Moran was
a sign of insanity.

Mr Vitale, please realize that you've
just been subjected to the Moran
"treatment." In typical fashion, Moran
takes a plausible position, seeks out
someone who opposes it, and then
uses this difference of opinion as
an occasion for indulging his sadistic
tendencies.

This includes, but is not
limited to, questioning the motives, character, intelligence, or even
sanity
of his opponent.

It's SOP for Monsewer Feuillade, but
is strangely tolerated on this newsgroup.









__________________________________


"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
__William Faulkner =
Capel Cleggs
2004-02-11 16:20:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by George Shelps
DAY AT THE RACES has wonderful
comedy scenes, but the Allan Jones-
Maureen O'Sullivan romance was cardboard (as I mentioned, Allan himself
disliked the part).
To me the weakest thing about RACES is not the romance (though it
certainly is weak), but the way the Brothers' characters are made more
generic.

In OPERA, the Brothers are more sympathetic than previously, but they
are still given the basic characterizations that we expect from them:
Groucho is the guy trying to "get into society" but unable to resist
insulting everyone he wants to mooch off of and hanging around with
rifraff like Chico and Harpo; Chico is the con man; Harpo steals
and/or eats everything in sight and likes nothing better than to cut
off guys' beards or tie them up. Because OPERA was written by the
authors of COCONAUTS and ANIMAL CRACKERS, Kaufman and Ryskind, the
writing is very appropriate to the characters; the difference is that
their character traits are pointed in more socially acceptable
directions; they're now trying to help young lovers get together
(there was a little bit of this in ANIMAL CRACKERS with Chico and
Harpo stealing the painting on Lillian Roth's request, but it's more
central here).

RACES, which was written by writers who'd never written for the Marxes
before (including George Seaton), seems to me to soften the Brothers
up quite a bit more; Groucho's less of a *schnorrer*, Chico has a job
(working at the sanitarium), as does Harpo (jockey?!), and their goals
are even nobler (they don't just want to help out young lovers, they
want to save a failing sanitarium from the evil businessman). Many of
the comedy routines are more generic too: the final race scene could
have been done by any comedians; same with the scene with Groucho
pretending to be various people on the phone (though it's a very funny
scene), and even the "examination" scene is pretty bland because it's
just disorganized wackiness (whereas the best Marx scenes involve them
slowly taking apart something that everyone else takes seriously, like
the professor's lecture on HORSE FEATHERS). The comedy content of
RACES is still good because the writers were good comedy writers --
the later MGM Marxes were assigned to second-level writers -- but a
lot of it doesn't feel like the Marx Brothers. NIGHT IN CASABLANCA is
enjoyable precisely because it's something of a return to the "real"
Marx Bros. style of humor, even if the material itself isn't always
the best.

BTW, it wasn't just Thalberg who thought the Marxes needed to be more
sympathetic and the stories more structured. I once saw an interview
with Nat Perrin, one of the writers on DUCK SOUP (Kalmar and Ruby, the
songwriters, got screenplay credit but I think there were a number of
writers), and he was surprisingly lukewarm about the film; he felt it
was so relentlessly unstructured and pointless that there was nothing
to hold the viewer's interest between jokes, and no one to sympathize
with. I'm not saying he was right to consider DUCK SOUP a
disappointment, because I certainly don't agree with him -- but it was
a prevailing opinion at the time that the Brothers' films were failing
for a lack of story interest, of something to hold the jokes together.

An interesting comparison is an interview I read with David Zucker,
of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker; he seemed bemused by the cult success of
TOP SECRET! (ZAZ's biggest flop), and compared it to DUCK SOUP: TOP
SECRET! flopped, he says, because there wasn't a real story or a
reason to sympathize with the Val Kilmer character, whereas AIRPLANE!
had an old but effective story and a clear goal for the hero. He went
on to say that he basically agreed with Thalberg: A comedy with a
strong story and someone to sympathize with will be a bigger success
than a disorganized comedy with more jokes. Again, I don't really
agree with his evaluation of his own work, because I think TOP SECRET!
is the best of the ZAZ films (and far funnier than anything they've
done since), but the point is that Thalberg's re-positioning of the
Marxes was based on a legitimate, and largely accurate, evaluation of
what makes a comedy successful with a mass audience.

What would have happened with the Brothers had Thalberg lived, I don't
know. I think they would have still slid further into generic comedy
-- RACES certainly suggests that -- but Thalberg would have at least
gotten them better writers than they had on GO WEST or BIG STORE.
George Shelps
2004-02-11 16:49:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Capel Cleggs
Post by George Shelps
DAY AT THE RACES has wonderful
comedy scenes, but the Allan Jones-
Maureen O'Sullivan romance was
cardboard (as I mentioned, Allan
himself disliked the part).
To me the weakest thing about RACES
is not the romance (though it certainly is
weak), but the way the Brothers'
characters are made more generic.
Yes, but that was the inevitable direction
of Thalberg's goal of homogenizing
the Marxes so that (a) women would
like them and (b) they would fit into
a commercially replicable formula.
Post by Capel Cleggs
In OPERA, the Brothers are more
sympathetic than previously, but they are
still given the basic characterizations
that we expect from them: Groucho is
the guy trying to "get into society" but
unable to resist insulting everyone he
wants to mooch off of and hanging
around with rifraff like Chico and Harpo;
Chico is the con man; Harpo steals
and/or eats everything in sight and likes
nothing better than to cut off guys'
beards or tie them.
Yes, Thalberg, with the assistance of
Kaufman and Ryskind, helped the Marxes to achieve an almost perfect
balance of
their established characterizations and
a mainstream narrative.

If George Kaufman hadn't hated Hollywood much, he might have stayed
and become their regular writer. I think
then the Thalberg formula could have
been repeated more successfully down
the road.









__________________________________


"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
__William Faulkner =
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-12 02:11:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by George Shelps
Mr Vitale, please realize that you've
just been subjected to the Moran
"treatment." In typical fashion, Moran
takes a plausible position, seeks out
someone who opposes it, and then
uses this difference of opinion as
an occasion for indulging his sadistic
tendencies.
This includes, but is not
limited to, questioning the motives, character, intelligence, or even
sanity
of his opponent.
It's SOP for Monsewer Feuillade, but
is strangely tolerated on this newsgroup.
Yes, I've seen his abuse before. For some reason I thought it
would be fun to engage him on the Thalberg question. -I should
of known better.

JV
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-12 02:01:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Neibaur
I will go out on a limb and state that A Night in Casablanca is their
funniest film after 1937.
I will also go on a limb and state that I find ANIC as one of the
Brother's best of any of their films (although not on the level of
a Duck Soup or Horse Feathers). With this feature, the aging Brothers
got back to raw, unadulterated, biting comedy. -Just look at that exchange
with Groucho at the hotel desk, tearing into the elderly-lady customer
for no apparent reason. This is real Groucho here, not the emasculated,
gentle, support-actor that we see counseling Maureen O'Sullivan in
A Day at the Races.

Yes, there are some very funny scenes in Opera and Races. Some of the
individual "straight" comedy pieces are done very well. But as a whole,
the thalbergisms have dated and diluted these efforts to the point of
of (myself) having a somewhat bitter after-taste when viewing them again.

JV


JV
James Neibaur
2004-02-12 02:26:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Yes, there are some very funny scenes in Opera and Races. Some of the
individual "straight" comedy pieces are done very well. But as a whole,
the thalbergisms have dated and diluted these efforts to the point of
of (myself) having a somewhat bitter after-taste when viewing them again.
The way you describe Opera and Races is how I describe Circus, West, and
Store. But I really believe Opera and Races to be as good as the three best
Paramounts. That used to be the prevailing opinion, and I am a bit puzzled
by the recent revisionism (it isn't just you, Joe, I have heard this from a
few different Marx Brothers fans as of late). I just don't see the dilution
that is so obvious in the post-1937 MGM releases.

JN
Feuillade
2004-02-10 03:51:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
The Marx Brothers were box office poison in 1933.
"Duck Soup" was their biggest bomb.
As I said, you seem to judge artistic value upon dollars.
I am not making a judgment. I am stating a fact. A
relevant fact -- as much as you'd like to ignore it.
Post by Joseph Vitale
It's difficult to reason with somebody who thinks like that.
Then why are you bothering?

I am dealing with facts. You're the one dealing with
"artistic value," which is a meaningless concept.

For many years, "A Night at the Opera" was considered
the Marx Brothers' greatest film. then "Duck Soup" seemed
to supplant it. Maybe it will switch yet again.

Public taste is fickle. But facts remain facts. No matter how
hard you try to deny them.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Thalberg did not "dilute" them. He gave them their careers
back.
And we all know the result, a fading wasteland in ol'Thalberg,
MGM-land.
You are, once again, missing the point.

Thalberg gave them the biggest hit of their career. Financial
*and* --- many would say -- artistic.

He was in the middle of making a second hit film for them when
he died.

What you seem to be doing is blaming Thalberg for what other,
lesser producers did with the Marx Brothers after Thalberg's
death -- which is stupid and illogical.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
This is what the brothers themselves said.
You have an argument, it's with the Marx Brothers
themselves.
I don't blame the Marx Brothers for taking a good deal
when it was offered.
You coulda fooled me.
Post by Joseph Vitale
My argument is with Tom "feuillade: Moran, who seems
to forgive intrusive artistic management -even after the
results have been made known.
And what "results" are those? The fact that he produced their
two most successful films?

I don't have to "forgive" anything.

I am merely stating facts.

Facts that you find inconvenient, and would like to wish
away in favor of some cockamamie theory about Irving
Thalberg being the Antichrist.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Thalberg was motivated by Thalberg
(and) an inborn belief that he could
better serve the Marx Brothers (and
MGM's revenues) by broadening their
appeal through harmony, happy musical
endings, and an over-all "feel good,
evil has been thwarted" plot synthesis.
Throw in the Production Code in
1929 and the Marx Brother's Paramounts
might of had a very few seconds
sniped here and there, but the integrity
of their comedy formula (that was
refined over many years in vaudeville
and Broadway) would still be there.
The Production Code is a mute point.
It's moot point.
It's moot and mute (a point unable to articulate the
defense it was intended for:-(
Nice try, but this attempt to cover up your illiteracy is
pretty lame, even for you.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Does that seem fair to you? Would
you criticize Napoleon for not
using nuclear weapons?
No, but I would criticize Napoleon if he
had attempted to make his army
friendlier:-(
That's a moot point.
My point was quite comparable. It's your analogy
of Napoleon and nuclear weapons which is science
fiction.
I apologize for your inability to grasp the analogy.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has
plenty of this fluff, but Cocoanuts
was written for Broadway, [...]
And is exactly the same kind of film that you're
regretting they didn't make later?
How many ways can you contradict yourself?
There is no contradiction. As I said, (see below), the
later Paramounts without the sappy material are better
than Cocoanuts.
And you would prefer that they remake the same three films
into the ground for the rest of their careers.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck
Soup" was their biggest bomb at
the box office.
When did I ever mention box office?
Artistic success is obviously what I'm
referring to.
And "artistic succcess" is a totally subjective
matter. It's your *opinion*.
Yes it is.
Glad to hear you admit it. Because you act as if you're
speaking ex cathedra.

(You can look that up if you'd like.)
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And, if tomorrow your going to change
your argument to infer that Thalberg
had no choice in his meddlesome doings
because of box office pressures, then
that's all well and good, but it doesn't
do much for the artistic integrity of a
successful comedy formula.
Your argument is not with me.
Your argument is with the Marx Brothers.
(See above.)
It remains a valid argument, which you have not
refuted, or even attempted to refute.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and
carved the terminally ill, cotton
candy mold that the Brothers would
be "promoted" to throughout their
MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had
made their most successful film and
was in the middle of making their
second most successful film (which
would have turned out even better had
he lived to complete it).
Are you arguing dollars or aesthetics?
They are not interchangeable. If
your arguing aesthetics, it is not of
my belief that "Who Dat Man" would
be any better had Thalberg lived on -
even if Thalberg had made Harpo sing it
out proud.
You're assuming that the number would have stayed
in the film. You have no basis for making that assumption.
It was a large-scaled, "important", musical number.
This is a very adequate basis for believing it would have
stayed in. You have no basis for assuming it would have
been cut. Unless, of course, you agree it was bad:-)
Your ignorance is showing.

Thalberg was notorious for making large-scale changes
in his films after previewing them, and reshooting entire
sequences if he thought they didn't work.

He died before he could do that with "A Day at the Races."

It is only reasonable to assume that, had he lived ot see
the film through to completion, it would have been even
better than it is today. And yes, some numbers might
have been cut. Or they may not have been. We'll never
know.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Once again, you are criticizing him
for not doing what he would not
have able to do anyway.
Once again, Production Code, not
applicable to this argument.
I would respectfully disagree.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
By 1935 it was no longer possible to
make the kinds of films that the
Marx Brothers had made at Paramount.
Entirely possible, as I have said, the
institution of the PC was not the
humbling factor that prohibited the
Brother's ability to deliver comedy
that would survive the test of time. It
was the plan of one man to coerce
and distort a shtick into a more
representative and applicable MGM
Brand identity.
Once again, the Marx Brothers had no problem with
this. At all.
That's too bad. Their later films might have been more
highly regarded if they had a problem with it.
By whom, bubby? You?
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
They always claimed that Thalberg saved their careers.
You said that several times, [...]
And you keep ignoring it.

It is a fact. One of the facts that you can't talk your
way out of in an attempt to try and make your dubious
"aesthetic" argument stick.
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] but it still doesn't make it anymore relevant
(to my argument) that Thalberg's decisions resulted
in poorer, dated film making.
According to you.

Last time I checked, you were not the ultimate arbiter of
what is and is not a good film.

Both of the films that Thalberg produced for the Marx
Brothers are considered classics. You don't want to think
so, fine. You want to prefer the fims they made at Paramount
(which almost destroyed their careers), fine.

But you make a lousy case for your dubious opinion.


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-12 01:25:10 UTC
Permalink
Tom,

It seems as if I had hit some sore spot with my last post as your
argument has degenerated into your usual spite. It's too bad, as this
anger/abuse you dish out distorts any interesting ideas you otherwise
might have, and makes meaningful exchange with you valueless.
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
The Marx Brothers were box office poison in 1933.
"Duck Soup" was their biggest bomb.
As I said, you seem to judge artistic value upon dollars.
I am not making a judgment. I am stating a fact. A
relevant fact -- as much as you'd like to ignore it.
Post by Joseph Vitale
It's difficult to reason with somebody who thinks like that.
Then why are you bothering?
I am dealing with facts. You're the one dealing with
"artistic value," which is a meaningless concept.
For many years, "A Night at the Opera" was considered
the Marx Brothers' greatest film. then "Duck Soup" seemed
to supplant it. Maybe it will switch yet again.
Public taste is fickle. But facts remain facts. No matter how
hard you try to deny them.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Thalberg did not "dilute" them. He gave them their careers
back.
And we all know the result, a fading wasteland in ol'Thalberg, MGM-land.
You are, once again, missing the point.
Thalberg gave them the biggest hit of their career. Financial
*and* --- many would say -- artistic.
He was in the middle of making a second hit film for them when
he died.
What you seem to be doing is blaming Thalberg for what other,
lesser producers did with the Marx Brothers after Thalberg's
death -- which is stupid and illogical.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
This is what the brothers themselves said.
You have an argument, it's with the Marx Brothers
themselves.
I don't blame the Marx Brothers for taking a good deal
when it was offered.
You coulda fooled me.
Post by Joseph Vitale
My argument is with Tom "feuillade: Moran, who seems
to forgive intrusive artistic management -even after the
results have been made known.
And what "results" are those? The fact that he produced their
two most successful films?
I don't have to "forgive" anything.
I am merely stating facts.
Facts that you find inconvenient, and would like to wish
away in favor of some cockamamie theory about Irving
Thalberg being the Antichrist.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Thalberg was motivated by Thalberg
(and) an inborn belief that he could
better serve the Marx Brothers (and
MGM's revenues) by broadening their
appeal through harmony, happy musical
endings, and an over-all "feel good,
evil has been thwarted" plot synthesis.
Throw in the Production Code in
1929 and the Marx Brother's Paramounts
might of had a very few seconds
sniped here and there, but the integrity
of their comedy formula (that was
refined over many years in vaudeville
and Broadway) would still be there.
The Production Code is a mute point.
It's moot point.
It's moot and mute (a point unable to articulate the
defense it was intended for:-(
Nice try, but this attempt to cover up your illiteracy is
pretty lame, even for you.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Does that seem fair to you? Would
you criticize Napoleon for not
using nuclear weapons?
No, but I would criticize Napoleon if he
had attempted to make his army
friendlier:-(
That's a moot point.
My point was quite comparable. It's your analogy
of Napoleon and nuclear weapons which is science
fiction.
I apologize for your inability to grasp the analogy.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And yes, I know Cocoanuts has
plenty of this fluff, but Cocoanuts
was written for Broadway, [...]
And is exactly the same kind of film that you're
regretting they didn't make later?
How many ways can you contradict yourself?
There is no contradiction. As I said, (see below), the
later Paramounts without the sappy material are better
than Cocoanuts.
And you would prefer that they remake the same three films
into the ground for the rest of their careers.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] and the later, original
screenplay Paramounts are more
successful than Cocoanuts - [...]
This is factually incorrect. "Duck
Soup" was their biggest bomb at
the box office.
When did I ever mention box office?
Artistic success is obviously what I'm
referring to.
And "artistic succcess" is a totally subjective
matter. It's your *opinion*.
Yes it is.
Glad to hear you admit it. Because you act as if you're
speaking ex cathedra.
(You can look that up if you'd like.)
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
And, if tomorrow your going to change
your argument to infer that Thalberg
had no choice in his meddlesome doings
because of box office pressures, then
that's all well and good, but it doesn't
do much for the artistic integrity of a
successful comedy formula.
Your argument is not with me.
Your argument is with the Marx Brothers.
(See above.)
It remains a valid argument, which you have not
refuted, or even attempted to refute.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
The fact that Thalberg died in '37
proves nothing. By the time IT died,
he had already done his job and
carved the terminally ill, cotton
candy mold that the Brothers would
be "promoted" to throughout their
MGM years.
By the time Thalberg died, he had
made their most successful film and
was in the middle of making their
second most successful film (which
would have turned out even better had
he lived to complete it).
Are you arguing dollars or aesthetics?
They are not interchangeable. If
your arguing aesthetics, it is not of
my belief that "Who Dat Man" would
be any better had Thalberg lived on -
even if Thalberg had made Harpo sing it
out proud.
You're assuming that the number would have stayed
in the film. You have no basis for making that assumption.
It was a large-scaled, "important", musical number.
This is a very adequate basis for believing it would have
stayed in. You have no basis for assuming it would have
been cut. Unless, of course, you agree it was bad:-)
Your ignorance is showing.
Thalberg was notorious for making large-scale changes
in his films after previewing them, and reshooting entire
sequences if he thought they didn't work.
He died before he could do that with "A Day at the Races."
It is only reasonable to assume that, had he lived ot see
the film through to completion, it would have been even
better than it is today. And yes, some numbers might
have been cut. Or they may not have been. We'll never
know.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Once again, you are criticizing him
for not doing what he would not
have able to do anyway.
Once again, Production Code, not
applicable to this argument.
I would respectfully disagree.
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
By 1935 it was no longer possible to
make the kinds of films that the
Marx Brothers had made at Paramount.
Entirely possible, as I have said, the
institution of the PC was not the
humbling factor that prohibited the
Brother's ability to deliver comedy
that would survive the test of time. It
was the plan of one man to coerce
and distort a shtick into a more
representative and applicable MGM
Brand identity.
Once again, the Marx Brothers had no problem with
this. At all.
That's too bad. Their later films might have been more
highly regarded if they had a problem with it.
By whom, bubby? You?
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
They always claimed that Thalberg saved their careers.
You said that several times, [...]
And you keep ignoring it.
It is a fact. One of the facts that you can't talk your
way out of in an attempt to try and make your dubious
"aesthetic" argument stick.
Post by Joseph Vitale
[...] but it still doesn't make it anymore relevant
(to my argument) that Thalberg's decisions resulted
in poorer, dated film making.
According to you.
Last time I checked, you were not the ultimate arbiter of
what is and is not a good film.
Both of the films that Thalberg produced for the Marx
Brothers are considered classics. You don't want to think
so, fine. You want to prefer the fims they made at Paramount
(which almost destroyed their careers), fine.
But you make a lousy case for your dubious opinion.
Tom Moran
"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Feuillade
2004-02-12 02:09:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Tom,
It seems as if I had hit some sore
spot with my last post as your
argument has degenerated into
your usual spite. It's too bad, as this
anger/abuse you dish out distorts any
interesting ideas you otherwise
might have, and makes meaningful
exchange with you valueless.
How can "meaningful exchange" be valueless? If it valueless, how can it be
meaningful?

Once again, you are making no sense.

You can certainly argue whatever you wish. But is more logical to assume that,
since several other people besides myself have pointed out the ludicrous and
illogical nature of your argument, you have decided to slink out of the
discussion with as much grace as you can muster.

Which is probably a wise move on your part.

I congratulate you on coming, however belatedly, to your senses.


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Joseph Vitale
2004-02-12 02:20:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Tom,
It seems as if I had hit some sore
spot with my last post as your
argument has degenerated into
your usual spite. It's too bad, as this
anger/abuse you dish out distorts any
interesting ideas you otherwise
might have, and makes meaningful
exchange with you valueless.
How can "meaningful exchange" be valueless? If it valueless, how can
it be meaningful?
Once again, you are making no sense.
You can certainly argue whatever you wish. But is more logical to
assume that, since several other people besides myself have pointed
out the ludicrous and illogical nature of your argument, you have
decided to slink out of the discussion with as much grace as you can
muster.
Which is probably a wise move on your part.
I congratulate you on coming, however belatedly, to your senses.
Tom Moran
"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04
Have you run out of your medication?
Feuillade
2004-02-12 03:46:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
Post by Feuillade
Post by Joseph Vitale
Tom,
It seems as if I had hit some sore
spot with my last post as your
argument has degenerated into
your usual spite. It's too bad, as this
anger/abuse you dish out distorts any
interesting ideas you otherwise
might have, and makes meaningful
exchange with you valueless.
How can "meaningful exchange" be
valueless? If it's valueless, how can
it be meaningful?
Once again, you are making no sense.
You can certainly argue whatever
you wish. But is more logical to
assume that, since several other
people besides myself have pointed
out the ludicrous and illogical nature
of your argument, you have
decided to slink out of the discussion
with as much grace as you can
muster.
Which is probably a wise move on
your part.
I congratulate you on coming, however
belatedly, to your senses.
Have you run out of your medication?
Now, now. Bitterness is *so* unattractive.

You've already slithered your way out of this thread. Don't make yourself look
any worse than you already have.


Tom Moran

"I think this economy's coming along just fine, frankly.''
-- George W. Bush
on Meet the Press 2/8/04

JimReid56
2004-02-10 05:23:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joseph Vitale
But it didn't help Thalberg's watered-down Marx Brothers
achieve the same long lasting comedy they previously (already) had.
Sorry, but Thalberg was not making films for 1970s audiences. He was making
films to please 1930s audiences and he knew what he was doing. The MGM films
did not date as well as the Paramounts, but that doesn't mean Thalberg's
handling of the Marx Bros. was a failure. On the contrary, it was just what his
audiences wanted.
Lokke Heiss
2004-02-08 18:43:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get progressively
worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact that Thalberg died in
1937.
Groucho said himself that Thalberg was their protector, when he died,
the money
and interest in their films evaporated...One of the biggest blows was
the lack of funds to try gags on the road before filming them.

And yet, the earlier point I made still applies. I think the seeds of
what was
to make the team ultimately boring were planted in Night at the Opera.

It struck me that the James Bond film Goldfinger works in the same
way. I saw it on AMC last week and was impressed on how good it still
is, the pacing, the music, the acting, ect. But the key element is the
gimmicks, esp the car. The car is marvelous, moving license plate,
guns, but the coup de grace was the
ejection seat. Now the movie does a great job of DOWNPLAYING the
ejection seat and a moment later Bond is captured. And the gimmicks
are used, but mostly downplayed through the film, and are always given
a reasonable excuse why Bond might have them. To repeat myself, one
reason the gimmicks work so well is that in the service of the plot,
the gimmicks don't often work. The ejection seat doesn't save Bond,
who is quickly captured, the homing device doesn't work.

So while Goldfinger was a huge success, the elements of what was to
make the series boring were all set in place in this film. The
gimmicks were to take on a life of their own and overpower the story.
The Marx brothers would slowly succumb to being characters in a (often
boring or mediocre) story rather than using the story as a platform
for their own talents.
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-08 19:12:07 UTC
Permalink
Agreed -- on Both Bond and Marx. I truly enjoyed Goldfinger but the die was
cast and pretty soon the series might as well have been called "Goldfinger
XIII More of the Same"
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Lokke Heiss
Post by Feuillade
What caused the Marx Brothers to slide and their films to get progressively
worse in the late 30s was not Thalberg, but the fact that Thalberg died in
1937.
Groucho said himself that Thalberg was their protector, when he died,
the money
and interest in their films evaporated...One of the biggest blows was
the lack of funds to try gags on the road before filming them.
And yet, the earlier point I made still applies. I think the seeds of
what was
to make the team ultimately boring were planted in Night at the Opera.
It struck me that the James Bond film Goldfinger works in the same
way. I saw it on AMC last week and was impressed on how good it still
is, the pacing, the music, the acting, ect. But the key element is the
gimmicks, esp the car. The car is marvelous, moving license plate,
guns, but the coup de grace was the
ejection seat. Now the movie does a great job of DOWNPLAYING the
ejection seat and a moment later Bond is captured. And the gimmicks
are used, but mostly downplayed through the film, and are always given
a reasonable excuse why Bond might have them. To repeat myself, one
reason the gimmicks work so well is that in the service of the plot,
the gimmicks don't often work. The ejection seat doesn't save Bond,
who is quickly captured, the homing device doesn't work.
So while Goldfinger was a huge success, the elements of what was to
make the series boring were all set in place in this film. The
gimmicks were to take on a life of their own and overpower the story.
The Marx brothers would slowly succumb to being characters in a (often
boring or mediocre) story rather than using the story as a platform
for their own talents.
Lokke Heiss
2004-02-09 06:03:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Spadaro
Agreed -- on Both Bond and Marx. I truly enjoyed Goldfinger but the die was
cast and pretty soon the series might as well have been called "Goldfinger
XIII More of the Same"
To quibble with you a bit, what makes Goldfinger work especially well,
is that some gimmicks work, some don't. The car fails him in the
clutch, along with
the signaling device.

The sequels to Goldfinger are not more of the same in the sense that
ALL of the
gimmick start to work. This is failing scriptwriting 101, yet
everyone seems
to fall into this trap in writing sequels or stories that use this
technique. What made Mission: Impossible so esp. good it's first
couple of years on TV was that sometimes the mission would screw up
and they'd have to free-lance. Things get 100 times more exciting
then.

Let's look at the last Bomb film. An invisible car. Not at all
downplayed. Highlighted as only product placement can highlight.
NOTHING to do with the story or script. In the Arctic, no less.
Every gimmick he used as I remember worked like a charm. Boring.....
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-09 18:45:42 UTC
Permalink
To be honest I never particularly noticed whether the toys worked in
later movies - I was usually bored enough that I picked up a book.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Lokke Heiss
Post by Tony Spadaro
Agreed -- on Both Bond and Marx. I truly enjoyed Goldfinger but the die was
cast and pretty soon the series might as well have been called "Goldfinger
XIII More of the Same"
To quibble with you a bit, what makes Goldfinger work especially well,
is that some gimmicks work, some don't. The car fails him in the
clutch, along with
the signaling device.
The sequels to Goldfinger are not more of the same in the sense that
ALL of the
gimmick start to work. This is failing scriptwriting 101, yet
everyone seems
to fall into this trap in writing sequels or stories that use this
technique. What made Mission: Impossible so esp. good it's first
couple of years on TV was that sometimes the mission would screw up
and they'd have to free-lance. Things get 100 times more exciting
then.
Let's look at the last Bomb film. An invisible car. Not at all
downplayed. Highlighted as only product placement can highlight.
NOTHING to do with the story or script. In the Arctic, no less.
Every gimmick he used as I remember worked like a charm. Boring.....
saxton R.F.M.
2004-02-06 17:38:17 UTC
Permalink
Thats interesting Jeff. One (not the) of my favoites is ROOM SERVICE or
could it be because I having been with RKO am prejudiced?

MY NEW BOOK IS OUT! "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" ABOUT MY MOVIE CAREER!
www.rsaxtonbook.com
OR CALL 1-888-280-7715
Eric Stott
2004-02-06 20:26:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by saxton R.F.M.
Thats interesting Jeff. One (not the) of my favoites is ROOM SERVICE or
could it be because I having been with RKO am prejudiced?
MY NEW BOOK IS OUT! "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" ABOUT MY MOVIE CAREER!
www.rsaxtonbook.com
OR CALL 1-888-280-7715
ROOM SERVICE is funny because it's a funny play with good lines. The Marx
Brothers really don't add anything to it, although they try.

Stott

I HAVE NO BOOK- DO YOU HEAR ME? NO BOOK AT ALL!!
Tony Spadaro
2004-02-06 23:18:21 UTC
Permalink
GOOD - I'M GETTING REAL SICK OF PRECIOUS MUMBLERS, ESPECIALLY ONES WHO POST
INANE NON-SEQUITERS.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html
Post by Eric Stott
ROOM SERVICE is funny because it's a funny play with good lines. The Marx
Brothers really don't add anything to it, although they try.
Stott
I HAVE NO BOOK- DO YOU HEAR ME? NO BOOK AT ALL!!
Bob Birchard
2004-02-06 05:30:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff NY
THE BIG STORE
"The music of the ghetto inspired the allegretto . . . " And on Sundays it's
P.U.!!!!!




--
Bob Birchard

Coming from the University Press of Kentucky in June 2004
“Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood”
by Robert S. Birchard
I.S.B.N. # 0-8131-2324-0
http://kentuckypress.com/viewbook.cfm?Category_ID=1&Group=42&ID=1113
Ulrich Ruedel
2004-02-06 10:57:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films,
Most of these are just out again in R2, and according to a post over in the
Laurel and Hardy group, may be upcoming in a R1 variant as well.

Uli
RPalmer151
2004-02-06 11:22:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ulrich Ruedel
Post by Jeff NY
While not the earlier Paramount films,
Most of these are just out again in R2, and according to a post over in the
Laurel and Hardy group, may be upcoming in a R1 variant as well.
I don't know the accuracy of this, but the USA Today reviewed the newest
release, but stated that Universal owned the rights to the first fiveMarx Bros.
films, with no plan to release them.

-roger P.
James Neibaur
2004-02-06 11:49:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by RPalmer151
I don't know the accuracy of this, but the USA Today reviewed the newest
release, but stated that Universal owned the rights to the first fiveMarx Bros.
films, with no plan to release them.
I heard they sold poorly when Image had them out (by lease) a few years ago
(that is when I hurriedly purchased them).

JN
saxton R.F.M.
2004-02-06 17:35:49 UTC
Permalink
A friend of mine who works for Universal said when VAN HELSING comes out
Universal will be returning all their horror classics to VHS and DVD
which as you know have been off the market for about 6 monhs. Rober
Saxton

MY NEW BOOK IS OUT! "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" ABOUT MY MOVIE CAREER!
www.rsaxtonbook.com
OR CALL 1-888-280-7715
RP Faiola
2004-02-08 03:45:14 UTC
Permalink
I've always wondered how the Marxes and Eddie Cline might have worked together.
Cline made many a silk purse out of a sow's ear at Universal. I have a hunch
he actually directed HELLZAPOPPIN and not H. C. Potter. The MGM comedy
directors were a humorless lot, to be sure. People criticize L&H's Fox
pictures, but it's their two MGM features that are real stinkeroos.

Yeah, Cline and the Marxes...ponder it.
R H Draney
2004-02-08 06:11:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by RP Faiola
I've always wondered how the Marxes and Eddie Cline might have worked together.
Cline made many a silk purse out of a sow's ear at Universal. I have a hunch
he actually directed HELLZAPOPPIN and not H. C. Potter. The MGM comedy
directors were a humorless lot, to be sure. People criticize L&H's Fox
pictures, but it's their two MGM features that are real stinkeroos.
Yeah, Cline and the Marxes...ponder it.
And about the time you get your head around *that*, have Salvador Dali write the
screenplay...yikes....r
Brent Walker
2004-02-08 22:03:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by RP Faiola
I've always wondered how the Marxes and Eddie Cline might have worked together.
Cline made many a silk purse out of a sow's ear at Universal. I have a hunch
he actually directed HELLZAPOPPIN and not H. C. Potter. The MGM comedy
directors were a humorless lot, to be sure. People criticize L&H's Fox
pictures, but it's their two MGM features that are real stinkeroos.
Yeah, Cline and the Marxes...ponder it.
Eddie Cline and the Marx Bros. would have indeed been a great team,
and indeed Cline sort of indirectly did paved the way for the
non-sequitir political comedy of DUCK SOUP with CRACKED NUTS and
MILLION DOLLAR LEGS.

It's good to see Eddie get some respect because even though he made
many great comedies over many decades with Mack Sennett, Buster
Keaton, W.C. Fields and others, he rarely gets the proper credit for
his contributions. He knew that comedy films couldn't be made on the
precepts of other genres, where you stick to a script and get so many
pages done a day, and just barrel ahead regardless, so he always kept
a "loose ship" where there was room for changing things around if a
scene wasn't playing funny, yet he was enough of a professional to
keep things on schedule and budget so that he kept getting gigs.

I think one of the greatest things Cline did, as recounted in James
Curtis' Fields book, was to go ahead and shoot Fields' original
version of THE BANK DICK script--even though Universal had rejected it
in favor of a rewrite by a hack writer--because Cline knew the studio
workings and knew they would never check up on it. If Cline had
directed some of the later Marx and Laurel and Hardy films, he
probably would've better assessed the gags that weren't working, and
figure out a way to rework things without losing many days of
shooting, just like he'd learned back in his Keystone days.

Brent Walker
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