Monday, August 12, 2013

And Two Hardboiled Eggs: My Favorite Marx Brothers Moments

It doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Butter on my popcorn, ice in my soda, and something to make me smile. Popcorn and soda aside, the Marx Brothers have been making me smile ever since I can remember. And because a smile is more fun if you share it, here are a few of my favorite Marx Brothers moments. I hope you catch my case of the giggles!

And Two Hardboiled Eggs – A Night at the Opera

Released in 1935, A Night at the Opera is unquestionably the Marx Brothers' masterpiece. Groucho stars as Otis B. Driftwood, a wannabe player in the Italian opera. Chico and Harpo are Fiorello and Tomasso, scatterbrained but loyal to their friend Ricardo (the handsome Allan Jones) who is in love with Rosa (Kitty Carlisle). When Rosa has the opportunity to go to New York, Fiorella, Tomasso and Ricardo stow away on her boat. Otis discovers the loverboy and his trusty sidekicks in his stateroom, and is pressured into helping them to stay concealed. Part of this is ordering the starving men some food. The following video shows why, whenever I'm making a grocery list, my husband calls out "and two hardboiled eggs!"


The Mirror Scene – Duck Soup

In this 1933 political satire, Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly, the president/dictator of a bankrupt country called Freedonia. Chico and Harpo are Chicollini and Pinky, two silly spies from Sylvania, Freedonia's neighbor and enemy. In the following classic scene, Pinky (Harpo) must fool Firefly (Groucho) into believing he's actually Firefly's reflection in a mirror. My favorite moment: when the two men swap positions, smiling at each other all while!


The Password Scene – Horse Feathers

I remember seeing this 1932 movie on television when I was nine years old (which would make it about twenty years ago, right? Ahem, moving on…). Groucho plays Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the president of Huxley University. To win the football game against the school's rival, Darwin U, Huxley recruits Bavarelli and Pinky (Chico and Harpo) to play on the team. These fellas are "icemen" (deliverymen of bootleg liquor), and are recruited through a series of misunderstandings. In the following scene, Wagstaff is trying to get into a speakeasy, and Baravelli is guarding the door.

…And We Gotta Go Back – A Night at the Opera

And we're back with my favorite Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera. Here, in order to evade the authorities and successfully get off the ship, the three plucky heroes impersonate a trio of famous aviators. Wearing the aviators' beards (which they cut off and pasted on their faces – what could possibly go wrong?) and uniforms, the men happily march off the ship. Only to find that they are now expected to make a speech about their heroic journey. This scene explains why, when I'm asked about a journey, I'll sometimes answer "we almost got there, then we ran out of gas and had to go back."


What makes you smile? Do you have any favorite Marx Brothers moments?


  1. Love Marx Brothers and I've seen these films, but it's been a while. Love that each in real life and in flim, had a role that were distinctly their own. Harpo was the caretaker, the heart of gold guy and so funny, while Chico is the wild man. The one who plays by his own rules. In real life he was a gambler, too, but he was so love. Then, Groucho, my personal favorite, because he was so difficult, but sharp and witty and smart. But he wasn't in the business of making people happy. Not even himself, but he did make them laugh. Thank you, Misha. What wonderful characters you have dug out of the archives. I think all three are wonderful examples of character and humor.

  2. I'm ashamed to say I've never seen a Marx Bros movie. I better fix that! Great post, Misha

  3. Ahhhh, the wonder of laughter. Fun and healthy. I've never been fond of looney tunes or 3 stooges because somebody always get hurt or humiliated or both. Where's the fun in that? Recent Netflix laughable movie: steve carrel and tina fey in date night. Tina fey's bio is hysterical. I'll have to explore the Marx Bros now and expand my horizons. Thanks Misha!

  4. Laughter is the best medicine, isn't it, Misha? A couple weeks ago, I had a case of the flu and just had to look at cute, playing puppies on the Internet to feel better.

    Last year, around New Year's, Turner Classic Movies had a Marx Brothers fest. I sat down to watch their films for the first time since I was a kid. I was blown away by how relatively young they were! As a kid, they always seemed old already! Then, I was blown away over how handsome Zeppo was! Wow!

    But my favorite part of the fest was a tidbit about Zeppo. Reportedly, he could and did fill in for any of the brothers if one of them was too ill to perform in their many vaudeville or Broadway shows. The other Marx Brothers claimed Zeppo was so talented, no one could tell him from the real Harpo or Groucho.

    That story doesn't make me laugh exactly, but it does make me marvel.

    And it's actually putting me in the mood to see a Marx Brothers flick right now!