The RealAudio files presented here are lengthier segments of Marx Brothers or related films or broadcasts.
Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel
This program featured Groucho and Chico and aired in the Monday evening slot of the NBC radio program, Five Star Theater, presented by the Standard Oil Company in 1932 and 1933. This was the first important radio series starring any of the Marx Brothers, and the only fully-realized Groucho/Chico vehicle (although they recorded a pilot for The Marx Brothers Show some years later, it never went into production). For many years it was believed that nothing was left of these shows. They were broadcast live and, though recorded on transcription disks, they were thought not to have been saved.
It wasn't until 1988 that any real evidence of these shows was unearthed, when several scripts (all but one episode) were discovered at The Library of Congress and subsequently published by Pantheon Books. And as recently as 1996, it was still believed that no actual recordings of these shows survived. Well, we were all wrong, and here's proof. Here are three excerpts from this series (including one complete program) in glittering RealAudio.
- May 8, 1933 — In this episode, Flywheel and Ravelli are rooked by a client and decide to take his tour bus in lieu of payment for a job. Well, since they've got the bus, all they need is passengers for the tour! In this clip, we hear the results of Flywheel and Ravelli's short-lived sightseeing tour — 5 min., 34 sec. (very poor audio quality).
- May 15, 1933 — Reginald Princeley is a bit put out that his producer won't let him make movies the way he wants to. So he procures the services of Flywheel and Ravelli to help him out. Flywheel solves the problem by getting Princeley fired and making a gangster picture. So here's the final half of this episode — 14 min., 35 sec.
- May 22, 1933 — Flywheel and Ravelli are stowaways on an ocean liner. Luckily enough, Flywheel is mistaken for Sir Roderick Mortimer, a famous African explorer, by Mrs. Rivington, well-known Long Island dowager who has invited him to her estate for the weekend (sound familiar?). Not to miss a chance at freedom, and perhaps money, Flywheel poses as the explorer in this complete transcription of the final episode of Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel — 29 min., 4 sec.
Mad, Mad Comedians
The New Bill Cosby Show
Groucho appeared on The New Bill Cosby Show on February 19, 1973, with Erin Fleming. In this clip, Bill quizes Groucho on current issues and Groucho sings, "Oh, How That Woman Could Cook." — 14 min., 6 sec.
Sometime in 1970 (exact date unknown) Groucho appeared with host David Steinberg on the short-lived ABC program, Music Scene. In this segment, Groucho talks about his relationship with Margaret Dumont, we hear John Sebastian performing "Rainbows All Over Your Blues," Groucho (accompanied by Steinberg on guitar) sings "Fathers Day," and finally becomes hilariously confused by the names of the other guests, (i.e., Bo Diddley, Buffy Saint-Marie, etc.). — 15 min., 45 sec.
Groucho appered with Maureen Arthur on Steve Allen sometime in 1970. Groucho plugs Marian Spitzer's book about The Palace Theater, recalls the vaudeville years, tells stories about such luminaries as Duffy and Sweeney, and fields a host of bizarre (and sometimes insulting) questions from the audience. — 31 min., 25 sec.
On March 25, 1970, Groucho made one of many appearances on Dick Cavett. Here, Groucho tells a couple of stories about his run-ins with officers of the law, and sings "Show Me A Rose." Groucho also introduces Phyllis Newman (actress, singer, and wife of Adolph Green) in a rather insulting way. — 20 min., 26 sec.
On October 6, 1963, this NBC program paid tribute to Groucho with a one-hour program featuring songs, stories, and birthday greetings. Presented below are two cobbled-together excerpts from this program.
- Birthday Greetings For Groucho — In these segments, we hear from Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Zeppo, Gummo (rarely heard on tape), and Harpo, who all want to wish Groucho a happy 68th birthday (even though it was his 73rd) — 4 min., 30 sec.
- Groucho Recalls The Early Years — Groucho talks about his earliest experiences in show business, explains how the brothers got their names, and recounts the earliest days of The Marx Brothers — 9 min., 10 sec.
The practice of producing theatrical "trailers" to promote a motion picture is familiar to most folks. In the 1930's and 1940's studios also produced trailers for radio broadcast. These trailers were usually between 10 and 15 minutes in length and were aimed at getting people to see a particular movie by giving a preview of songs and scenes.
- The Paramount Movie Parade
In 1933, Paramount began a series of radio trailers called The Paramount Movie Parade. The first two "programs" in this series featured highlights from the Marx Brothers' picture (still in production at the time), Duck Soup. Perhaps the most irritating things common to both clips below are the narrator's frequent references to Firefly's intellect (or supposed lack thereof), such as referring to him as a "Dippy Dictator" who was "overtaxing his one-cylinder brain." Just why Paramount was billing Groucho's character as a moron in this film is a mystery.
- Duck Soup #1 was the first Paramount Movie Parade broadcast. It is obvious that this recording was made during the movie's production for a number of reasons. First of all, it opens with music previously used for the Monkey Business promo a couple of years earlier. Second, the brothers' character names are slightly altered. While Groucho and Chico are still Rufus T. Firefly and Chicolini, respectively, Harpo is called "Skippy" (rather than "Pinky") and Zeppo is cast as Groucho's son, Bob Firefly (later renamed Bob Roland and cast as Groucho's secretary). The final, and most intriguing, bit of evidence is the fact that the scenes presented seem to be alternate takes, and in some cases there are additional lines of dialog that did not appear in the movie. The most obvious example of this is an entire scene featuring Firefly, his cabinet, and Chicolini the peanut vendor, all of which was excised prior to the film's release. — 12 min., 33 sec.
- Duck Soup #2 was the second Paramount Movie Parade broadcast. By this time, Paramount has recorded theme music for the program and this clip also features the actual overture from Duck Soup. And now the character names are moving inexorably toward the final cut. Paramount has taken away Harpo's character's name entirely, simply calling him "a spy," while Zeppo's character is now just called Bob, Firefly's secretary. However, Vera (although she doesn't appear in this clip) is cast as "Ferdy" Trentino's niece. This clip takes up where the previous broadcast left off, as Firefly offers Chicolini a cabinet position as Secretary of War. Again you will notice that, in certain cases, alternate takes are used. Including an entirely different recording of "The Country's Going To War." — 13 min., 52 sec.
- Leo is On the Air
Paramount didn't have a monopoly on the radio trailer. MGM also released several trailers for Marx Brothers (and other films) under the series title Leo is On the Air.
- The trailer for A Day At the Races is presented as a parody of the "March of Time" newsreels as the "Marx of Time," and the recording is riddled with declarations of "Time Marxes on!" This recording features a few clips of music and dialog from the movie and a rundown of the plot. — 8 min., 9 sec.
- While still interesting in its own way, the trailer for At The Circus contains no dialog from the film whatsoever (this may be considered a blessing). This clip concentrates on the music in the film and features an excerpt from Groucho's performance of Lydia The Tattooed Lady and a re-recording of Chico's piano number from the film. — 12 min., 28 sec.
- More entertaining is the Go West Trailer, which is narrated by John Carroll (who plays Terry Turner in the film). Carroll, Groucho, and Chico get together to plug Go West and introduce bits from the movie. — 12 min., 39 sec.
The last regular radio series to feature Groucho and Chico ran for 25 weeks beginning in November 1939. Called The Circle, this was "a supposed club comprised of celebrities, their activities ranging from songs and jokes to comparitively serious debate. Among its 'members' at various times were Ronald Colman, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Lawrence Tibbett, Madeline Carroll, and guests such as Noel Coward and Alexander Woollcott." (Glenn Mitchell, The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia, 1996).
- I Want My Fifteen Bucks is a lengthy clip featuring Groucho, Chico, and Jose Iturbi from the second installment of The Circle (and the only one known to still exist) broadcast on November 22, 1939. Chico, as Ravelli, is under the impression that the 'club' owes him fifteen dollars. In order to take his mind off the debt, Groucho convinces Ravelli that Iturbi has challenged him to a duel. The clip begins with Ronald Colman (the show's "President") reading the intro, skips to the aforementioned sketch (featuring the tail end of an ad from Kellogg's), and ends in a rousing chorus of the song, "I Want My Fifteen Bucks." (Listen for Cary Grant's cry of "Oy! Oy! Ravelli! Ravelli!" at the beginning of the sketch.) — 10 min., 57 sec.
The Hollywood Palace
On April 17, 1965, Groucho appeared with his daughter Melinda and Margaret Dumont on The Hollywood Palace. Here are a couple of clips from that broadcast.
- Groucho and Melinda Duet is a clip featuring Groucho and his younger daughter singing together. — 2 min., 9 sec.
- Groucho and Margaret Dumont got together for what would be the last time (Maggie died shortly after the taping of this program) for a final performance of the ever-popular Hooray for Captain Spalding from Animal Crackers. — 6 min., 45 sec.
The Jackie Gleason ShowGroucho appeared on the Gleason show on October 14, 1967 to plug his new book, The Groucho Letters. Here's what happened...
- Groucho's Introduction shows Groucho and Jackie together on television together for the first time. Groucho insists on payment in advance, talks about his "average day" in an excerpt from his new book, and sings Show Me A Rose. — 12 min., 36 sec.
- When the Marx Brothers hit the Vaudeville stages, they were following in the footsteps of their uncle, Al Shean, who made a hit with his partner, Ed Gallagher, as Gallagher and Shean. Groucho and Jackie (as Reginald VanGleason) perform an updated version of Gallagher and Shean's signature tune in this brilliant rendition of Mr. Gleason and Mr. Marx — 7 min., 35 sec.
Blue Ribbon TownGroucho hosted Pabst's Blue Ribbon Town for 63 consecutive weeks in 1943/44, following the familiar comedy/variety format as Groucho and the show's regulars entertained guests in this quaint, fictional community. These files require RealAudio® 2.0 player and a 14.4 Kbps or higher connection.
- January 29, 1944 has Groucho in search of a wife to do his cooking. He goes to an agency and finds the perfect bride, or so he thinks. Due to a slip-up, he winds up with Bob Hope's "Pepsodent Gal," Vera Vague. Vera isn't interested in cooking; she wants nothing but love. In an effort to discourage her, Groucho gives her an idea of what life would be like with him and his two brats, Faye McKenzie and Leo Gorcey. — 8 min., 38 sec.
- February 5, 1944 features Gene Tierney who accompanies Groucho and the Blue Ribbon gang on a trip to Milwaukee to celebrate Pabst's 100th anniversary. In this segment, Groucho and Gene journey back to Milwaukee in 1844 for the opening of the Pabst Brewery, where Groucho has a run-in with "Black" Leo Gorcey. — 13 min., 20 sec.
- February 12, 1944 is another segment of Groucho's radio show, this time broadcast from Peoria as a follow-up program to the previous week commemorating the 100th anniversary of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Here we find Groucho in Peoria in 2044 for an idea of what life might be like in Pabst's future (not realizing that, in 2044, Pabst would no longer be around). In this Jetsons-like episode, Groucho is once again joined by Gene Tierney, as well as regulars Robert Ambruster and Leo Gorcey. — 11 min., 6 sec.
- February 26, 1944 Jack Benny shows up in Blue Ribbon Town for a short vacation from radio. Unfortunately, he hasn't planned for Groucho's cast, all of whom are eager to show Benny their talents and convince him to take them away from Groucho for good. — 17 min., 16 sec.