Taking a Chance on Laughs: A Lost Marx Brothers Film Is Found

A 23-second fragment of the lost silent Marx Brothers film HUMOR RISK, self-financed by the team in 1921. The film was discovered earlier this month and is now in the hands of a private archive.

Previously thought destroyed in its entirety, this small portion of the film was found in the garage of the former Great Neck, NY, estate of Groucho Marx.

In Their Words: Chico Marx

An amusing quote from Chico Marx

It’s Chico Marx‘s 127th birthday, and you’re probably wondering how best to mark the occasion.

We have a suggestion for you: Why not show your support for Marxfest, NYC’s celebration of all things Marx Brothers, coming this May? Visit our Kickstarter site (we’re on the planning committee) and toss a few bucks into the kitty.

There are even some cool premiums to make it doubly worth your while. But really, do you need a better reason than it’s Chico’s birthday? Of course you don’t.

Marx Brothers Madness in the Merry Month of May

Hey friends — we’re on the planning committee for a very exciting series of events coming up in May of this year: Marxfest, a month-long celebration of all things Marx Brothers in the brothers’ hometown, NYC.

You can check out the calendar of events (more are to be added very shortly) at marxfest.com.

We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover expenses (this is not a for-profit endeavor), so please, view the video below and chip in if you can. Any amount is appreciated, but there are some very cool premiums available at various levels of support.

And by all means, please share this with every Marx Brothers fan (in other words, every right-thinking citizen of the world) you know!

Cladrite Classics: Happy Birthday, Lillian Roth!

This post first saw the light of day on 12/13/2012:

In 1974, big news was made when prolonged legal wrangling over the rights to the Marx Brothers‘ second movie, Animal Crackers (1930), was finally resolved and the movie was released for public screenings for the first time for the first time in many years.

Imagine that: A “new” Marx Brothers movie (new in the fact that no one had been able to view it, in a theatre or on television, for so long—and of course, there were no VHS tapes yet, much less DVDs or Blu-Rays).

It was our junior year in high school, and we were working part-time evenings and weekends at the Northpark Cinema 4 in Oklahoma City. Already very devoted to all things Marx Brothers, we were thrilled when Animal Crackers was booked there. The movie settled in for an inexplicably long run (our memory might be playing tricks on us, but we recall it being there for a month or more), and we spent many an hour on those slow weekend afternoons soaking up the Marxian magic when we should have been out front taking tickets and sweeping up spilled popcorn. (To this day, we have the dialogue from that picture all but memorized.)

But it wasn’t just Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo who held our attention. The winsome Ms. Lillian Roth, who played the ingénue in Animal Crackers and whose 102nd birthday it is today, hooked us but good with her flirtatious ways and deep-dish dimples.

We’ve had a crush on her ever since, and we trust that, after watching the following clips, you will, too. Happy birthday, lovely Lillian, wherever you may be.

Saying Goodbye to Groucho

We’re not much for marking the day people pass away; we prefer to celebrate the day they were born. But the anniversary of Groucho Marx’s passing—he died on this day in 1977—carries with it some sad, sweet memories that are worth revisiting.

We can still vividly remember our first Marx Brothers movie. It was 1974 and, having just turned sixteen, we were given permission to borrow the family Volvo to drive across town to catch a double feature of Horse Feathers and Monkey Business.

We were thoroughly and completely hooked—on the entire Marx clan, of course, but especially Groucho. Our prized possession to this day remains the autographed photo we received from him after sending him a birthday card on what proved to be his last birthday.

On August 19, 1977, we were on a camping trip in Colorado with our parents and siblings. We were sporting a Groucho t-shirt, as we often did in those days, and a kid we’d met the night before at the campground where we were staying walked up and said, “Hey, guess what happened?”

At that moment, we had a sort of premonition about what he was referring to, though we hadn’t heard any news, having only just crawled out of our sleeping bag.

“Groucho died,” we said. A statement, not a question.

“Yeah, how did you know?” he asked.

We didn’t know exactly how we knew, but we did, somehow. And we were more than a little bit heartbroken over it.

Distraught, we sought out our folks for the solace they could provide. We found them at the campground’s general store, where they were in the process of buying all the copies of that day’s newspaper, so that we might be spared the sad news of Groucho’s passing, which they feared would spoil the last two days of the trip for us.

It was one of the sweetest things anyone ever did for us.

The other sweetest thing? Our father, hoping to cheer us up, gave us some money and told us to go have some fun. We went to an Old West-themed amusement park, where we bought (well, placed an order for—they were delivered via the mail) three one-dollar bills with pictures of Groucho, Harpo, and Chico superimposed over George Washington’s face.

When they arrived in the mail some weeks later, we had them framed, and they hang on our wall to this day.

We can remember how, on the long ride home from Colorado to Oklahoma City, the deejays on the radio kept going on and on about Elvis, and we were thinking, “But Groucho died! What about that?”

We told our mother that day that it was the only time in his life that Groucho’s timing had been off.

We’re still not over Groucho’s passing. The world was a better place with him in it.