Sunday, January 14, 2007

If the Nightingale / Could Sing Like You...

I just finished rewatching the Marx Brothers in "Monkey Business," you know, the one where they're stowaways and need to impersonate famous people to get off the boat. Errr, to differentiate it from "A Night at the Opera," this is the one where they pretend to be Maurice Chevalier, and where Harpo does a Punch & Judy gag with a lot of children who are being forced to laugh. And you know how awful it is when little kids have to pretend to laugh in a film.

Some of the best moments in a Marx Brothers movie are when Chico does a one-on-one routine with either Harpo or Groucho:

GROUCHO: Well, the picnic's off, we didn't bring any red ants.
CHICO: I know some Indians got a couple of red aunts.

I also love to watch the Marxes tease and confuse women. I don't know whether it's a misogynistic streak or what, but a common thread in these movies is one of the brothers flirting with a woman, routinely insulting her at the same time, and then scaring the heck out of her or sort of physically assaulting her. I find this refreshing not because I like to see women get insulted, jacked up like cars, or crushed under couch cushions, but because I like to see a Hollywood "flirtation routine" get turned completely on its head.

CHICO: You're a very pretty girl. You've got "it."
MANICURIST: Thank you.
CHICO: And you can keep it.

Watching Groucho irrationally insult a pretty girl ("Does your husband know you used to dance in a flea circus?") also provides a welcome change from hatchet-faced Zeppo woodenly wooing the dull romantic lead. And anything that delays a harp solo is a good thing in my books.

(Every blog entry requires a certain amount of writing-agony, but this time around I couldn't remember how to spell cushion...think about it, it's a strange word)

No comments: