Rating: Not Rated
18 episodes from over a decade of popular TV featuring appearances by Phyllis Diller, Edgar and Candace Bergen, Joe Louis, Johnny Weismuller, Frankie Avalon, Groucho’s daughter Melinda Marx, Harpo Marx, and the show’s trademark duck
3 Groucho pilots including What Do You Want, Tell It to Groucho, and the never-before-seen The Plot Thickens
Outtakes and bloopers
Commentary by Phyllis Diller
Running Time: +/-9.5 Hours
This DVD features 18 of the best episodes from the show “You Bet Your Life” starring Groucho Marx. These episodes were aired between 1955 and 1961. On the show a variety of odd people and celebrities would come out, chat with Groucho, then answer trivia questions from various categories for $1000. And if contestants would say the secret word (revealed by the “Secret Word Duck”) then they would win additional money. The series showcased Groucho’s talent at conversation and improvisation and the occasional risqué joke. This series ended up running for 14 years.
This DVD is not rated.
While I’ve seen a lot of TV shows and a lot of game shows, I have to admit that this is the first time I’d ever seen an episode of You Bet Your Life. Come to think of it, this is probably the most I’ve ever seen the legendary Groucho Marx on TV. The show was an entertaining mix of talk show and quiz show. They paraded all sorts of oddballs on the show that would make Jerry Springer proud. Marx, with his quick wit and sense of humor, would always joke with them. However, from what I saw, he never really made fun of them in a mean spirited way. That was probably a good portion of his appeal.
The show also featured quite a parade of celebrities. An 11 year old Candice Bergen appeared with her father (and Marx’s daughter) on one show. On another show, a rookie Phyllis Diller came on with her husband. As it turned out, this was one of her big breaks into show business. Also appearing were Tarzan’s Johnny Weissmuller, boxer Joe Louis, Harpo Marx, and many more minor celebrities. Because of this the show ends up being an noteworthy piece of television history.
The trivia is also interesting. A lot of the questions are historical or geographical, so they are still valid today. You may find yourself stumped along with the contestants on some of them.
If you’re a TV show or game show buff, then you’ll definitely want to check this DVD out. And needless to say this is a required addition to the collections of Groucho Marx fans.
There are quite a few extras included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:
3 Groucho pilots including What Do You Want, Tell It to Groucho, and the never-before-seen The Plot Thickens Apparently Groucho Marx tried to kick off several new series. The pilot episodes from those are included here. Honestly, though, they are just variations of You Bet Your Life. Groucho brings out a variety of eccentric guests and has humorous banter with them. A couple of these pilots even included his old announcer George Fenneman. In fact, he even repeatedly re-used some of the same “You Bet Your Life” guests on these pilots. Still, they are an interesting bit of unaired TV history.
Outtakes and bloopers Some of these outtakes were part of “stag reels” from the show. They were portions of the show that were deemed too risqué for television back then. Today they are amusing and the subtle humor of them is pretty funny. But besides this there are also flubbed lines, practical jokes played on Groucho, ducks dropped on people’s heads, and more. If you like blooper reels you’ll enjoy this.
Original Commercials Some of the original commercials, including a rare one with all of the Marx Brothers, are included among the extras.
Commentary by Phyllis Diller Diller provides commentary for the episode that she was a part of. She is shocked by how different she looked back then and she relates stories about her appearance on the show and Marx in general. Its pretty cool to listen to.
The Bottom Line:
This is required viewing for fans of TV history, game shows, and Groucho Marx.