The Marx Brothers
Marxist events today


Around this day in the Marx Brothers history

23 May 1929: The Marxes' first film for Paramount, "The Cocoanuts," premiered in New York.  
23 May 1956: Ray Bradbury (author) was a contestant on "You Bet Your Life" (radio).  
23 May 1974: "Animal Crackers" is re-released after more than thirty years of legal difficulties prevented it from being shown.

Audio Highlights from Animal Crackers

  1. Opening theme. Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont) gives Hives the Butler (Robert Grieg) his instructions and Roscoe W. Chandler (Louis Sorin) is introduced, arriving with a famous painting to be displayed at Mrs. Rittenhouse's party in honor of the African explorer, Captain Geoffrey T. Spalding (Groucho).
  2. Mrs. Rittenhouse's daughter, Arabella (Lillian Roth), breaks up a budding romance between her mother and Chandler. Spalding's secretary, Horatio W. Jamison (Zeppo), is introduced and informs the other guests of the Captain's conditions for attending the party in song. Spalding arrives in a sedan chair, carried by African bearers, and sings, "Hello, I Must Be Going," accompanied by Jamison, Mrs. Rittenhouse, and the rest of the guests. The company then goes into a rousing rendition of "Hooray for Captain Spalding."
  3. Mrs. Rittenhouse welcomes Spalding into her home and the Captain tries to advise her on divers topics. She goes on to describe his heroic deeds, whereupon he faints at the sight of a caterpillar. Ravelli (Chico) is introduced as one of the musicians, and explains his complicated rate system. The Professor (Harpo) is introduced and the entire reception comes to an abrupt end when he pulls a gun.
  4. Captain Spalding toys with the idea of marriage to Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead. He goes on to have a "Strange Interlude" (courtesy of Eugene O'Neill's play of the same name), complete with audience assides.
  5. Chandler is unmasked as Abie "The Fish Peddler" Kabibble by Ravelli and The Professor and negotiates with them (unsuccessfully) to keep this information secret.
  6. Captain Spalding gets to know Roscoe W. Chandler and they discuss plans to build an opera house in the reservoir at Central Park.
  7. Ravelli and The Professor get into a card game with Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead.
  8. Ravelli and The Professor are engaged in an escapade involving, alas, no larceny, by Arabella Rittenhouse. The power goes out and Captain Spalding and Mrs. Rittenhouse show up in the dark and almost thwart the plan, whatever it is.
  9. Captain Spalding gives his speech on Africa, which includes one of the most famous jokes in the history of ever.
  10. Mrs. Rittenhouse and Captain Spalding introduce Ravelli who plays, among other unknown hits, the ubiquitous tune which is not the same song as the McGuire Sisters' 1958 hit, "Sugartime," no matter what anyone says. Harpo comes in (as The Professor) with a rare performance on piano, followed by more of Ravelli's famous tune. Captain Spalding presents Mrs. Rittenhouse with a gift from the jungle.
  11. The party moves to the library where the famous painting is revealed and is, of course, a fake. Chandler is livid, and Captain Spalding volunteers his services in solving the case.
  12. Arabella and John Parker (Hal Thompson) sing a duet on "Why Am I So Romantic?" followed by The Professor's rendition on harp.
  13. Captain Spalding comes back from a horseback ride without the horse. The police are announced by Hives and Spalding takes this as a threat. He then asks Jamison to take a letter to his lawyer, Charles H. Hungerdunger. The police enter and Spalding passes himself off as an inspector from Scotland Yard. The scene ends with Spalding posing a number of pointless questions to Mrs. Rittenhouse and then leaving in a huff.
  14. John and Arabella realize that the fake painting unveiled was not the one he'd painted and which Ravelli and The Professor had planted, so Arabella enlists Captain Spalding to find out who the new culprit is. John goes to get the new fake, which has mysteriously vanished from his room. They realize that the professor has it, but Spalding concludes that if they find the other forger they can solve the case. Spalding sits down with Ravelli to work out who painted the other forgery and winds up even more confused than before.
  15. The police find one of the fake paintings in John's room and accuse him of the theft. Spalding, Ravelli, Jamison, and The Professor appear to confess to the crime and Parker's copy is discovered on The Professor. The Professor also has the original, but Chandler realizes that Parker's copy is excellent work and commissions him to paint a portrait and all is well in the world, except that the police still have to deal with The Professor and his various larcenies. Spalding convinces Hennessy to let him go, since he'd returned the paintings, whereupon Hennessy gives The Professor his "be a good boy" speech, prompting Harpo's famous knife dropping routine. They decide to arrest The Professor after all, and he chloroforms everyone, including himself and the ever-present blonde, and CURTAIN!
24 May 1956: Ray Bradbury (author) was a contestant on "You Bet Your Life" (television).  
24 May 1962: Ken Berry was a guest on "Tell It To Groucho."  
24 May 1976: Groucho's last television appearance is "A Salute to Ernie Kovaks" on the syndicated "Merv Griffin Show."  
This site uses material originally created by Frank Bland for his website Why A Duck?. Frank did kindly give me permission to use this material.

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