Dark Bilious Vapors

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Home » Archives » December 2004 » Trivia: Marxist edition....

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12/12/2004: Trivia: Marxist edition....

Though this one isn't political; we're talking "Marx" as in The Marx Brothers here. How familiar are you with the brothers and their films? Answers Tuesday evening.

1) The Obvious First Question: What were the birth names of the Four Marx Brothers? Extra credit if you can name the fifth brother and his birth name, and if you can give the correct pronunciation of "Chico".

2) Which leads naturally to The Obvious Second Question: how did each of the Marx Brothers get his nickname?

3) So, what is the canon of the Marx Brothers films (i.e., list the movies that the brothers made together while billed as "The Marx Brothers")? For extra credit, list the roles each of the brothers is credited with playing in each movie.

4) While there were 5 Marx brothers, no more than 4 actually appeared in the films. Yet, there was a non-sibling actor/actress who, if Groucho had his way, would have been acknowledged as "the fifth Marx Brother". Who is that actor/actress? For extra credit, what Marx Brothers films did this person not appear in?

5) In his older age, Groucho was good friends with a famous rock star, so much so that he'd invite this singer to his house at 11:00 at night to watch TV. Who is this rock star?

6) When they were out of costume and not made up, the resemblance between Chico and Harpo Marx was incredible, so much so that once Chico made a guest appearance on I've Got A Secret dressed as Harpo, and his secret was "I'm pretending to be Harpo (I'm Chico). Chico fooled the entire panel. What was remarkable about that feat?

7) The Cocoanuts was basically a stage play that was recorded on film, and in fact it was filmed on a stage in New York. However, it was filmed in the early hours of the morning. Why?

8) In Monkey Business Groucho says to Lucille Briggs (played by Thelma Todd), "I know. You're a woman who's been getting nothing but dirty breaks. Well, we can clean and tighten your brakes, but you'll have to stay in the garage all night." What about this line was weirdly prescient?

9) In the climactic battle scene in Duck Soup, Groucho wears five different uniforms. What are they?

10) You remember the famous stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers' classic, A Night At The Opera? Of course you do. Now, rerun the scene in your mind and tell me: how many people eventually crammed into Groucho's stateroom? And you win a boatload (pun intended) of extra credit if you can identify them all.

11) EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION TOTALLY UNRELATED TO THE HOLIDAY SEASON: According to Hollywood legend, what legal problems threatened the release of A Night in Casablanca, and what was Groucho's response?

Len on 12.12.04 @ 09:58 PM CST


Replies: 3 comments

on Monday, December 13th, 2004 at 11:14 PM CST, Bryan said

Among it's first issue of postage stamps as an independent nation, Kazakhstan had one featuring pictures of Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

And people think the Soviet people didn't have a sense of humor.

on Monday, December 13th, 2004 at 11:32 PM CST, SadPunk said

Sheesh! And I thought I was a fan! (The title of my blog, "Sounds like mice," is from Groucho's line in "Duck Soup.")

1. Groucho was Julius; Harpo was Adolph, I think... that's all I remember.

2. Groucho was grouchy, Harpo played a harp...

4. Margaret Dumont?

5. Why am I thinking Frank Zappa?

6. I believe Groucho was a panelist.

11. There was threatened copyright-infringement suit for "Casablanca." I don't have Groucho's response at hand, but it was hilarious. He wrote them a long letter about the film's plot, and they sent back a form letter, so he sent them a REALLY long letter of mostly nonsense and gibberish. It was brilliant.

on Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 at 6:39 AM CST, Len Cleavelin said

Hey, I consider myself a Marxist-Lennonist myself.... :-)

I'm surprised by the lack of response to this one; you'd think that the Marx Brothers would have more mass appeal. But for the answers given so far....

1) Correct as far as they go....

2) That's a possible source for Groucho's nickname; there's also a second possibility that comes from old vaudeville slang. Harpo's is a no brainer, of course. But I really thought the reason that the other one was known as Chico was better known; alas, the price of political correctness (that was a hint...).

4) Margaret Dumont is right. When I actually went through the Marx canon looking for the movies she wasn't in, I was surprised; for an actress who's best known for being the Marxes' constant foil, the number of the brothers' movies that she isn't in is considerable.

5) Good guess, but not it.

6) Exactly right; Chico even fooled Groucho with his Harpo impression.

I just saw "Duck Soup" once again (I gave myself an almost complete Marx Brothers collection for the holidays), and actually I was amazed, in the scene where Chico and Harpo dress up in a nightshirt and cap like Firefly's (the famous mirror sequence is a part of this scene) how much alike all the brothers look. But then again, they are all brothers....

11) The threat of an infringement suit is correct. When I post the "correct" answer it'll be apparent that I don't have the complete story; maybe I'll have to dig a bit and if I can find Groucho's complete response.

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