Marx Brothers, You Bet Your Life

Joshua Neuman

By Joshua Neuman

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Raucous and unapologetically lowbrow comedy from riotous rascals and humpty-dumpty hooligans.

These recordings are attributed to the "riotous rascals and humpty-dumpty hooligans" known as Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo, but there's no confusing which Marx is the star here. Whether it's as the wisecracking Rufus T. Firefly of Duck Soup (Head of Treasury: "Sir, you try my patience!" Firefly: "I don't mind if I do. You must come over and try mine sometime.") or as the host of the game show, You Bet Your Life, Groucho (born Julius Henry Marx) is raucous and unapologetically lowbrow. He teases Tallulah Bankhead for the pretentious way she utters the word "the-a-ter," then pretends that Stanislavski is a wrestler. Flirting with a 19-year-old contestant, Groucho tells her he can get her into pictures if she promises to join him after the show. Later when a male contestant starts bragging about his professional accomplishments, Groucho cuts him off: "With a background like Ms. Powell's standing around, we should talk about yours?"