Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
5 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Groucho Marx
Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
Zeppo Marx

Special Features:
Today Show Interview with Harpo Marx (1961)

Today Show Interview with Groucho Marx (1963)

Today Show Interview with William Marx (1985)

Other Info:
Full Frame (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 6 Hours 43 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is the official description of the DVD:

"Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the greatest comedy act in history with The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection. This essential DVD set features the legendary four Marx Brothers in five of their most acclaimed and best loved films - Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, Monkey Business, Animal Crackers and The Cocoanuts - the only five movies ever made with all four brothers together: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo!"

This DVD is not rated.

The Movie:
Like with the recent W.C. Fields DVD set, I don't think I've ever actually seen the Marx Brothers in a full length film. I've seen clips of them, parodies of them, and pictures of them, but I've never seen a Marx Brothers movie. I've even seen Groucho Marx in You Bet Your Life, but that was the extent of my exposure to them. So with that, I dove straight into their movies.

I have to say that Harpo freaks me out a little. He's like a malicious mime / clown without makeup. He never speaks, but he acts childish. He does cute little antics here and there, but then he'll pull out scissors and randomly cut things. He cuts hair, clothes, hats, or whatever. It's a little freaky. It's even more so when he picks fights with people. Then there's Chico. He reminds me of Epstein from Welcome Back Kotter. Zeppo Marx is more the straight man of the group and seemed to have very little to do in the films. Finally, there's Groucho Marx. Even if you haven't seen his films you are probably familiar with his routine. With his trademark moustache, eyebrows, and cigar, he delivers zingers to characters left and right in the films. Even today many of them are quite funny. He also managed to deliver his one-liners filled with sexual innuendo but without profanity. It's a talent few comics seem to have today.

Like many movies from that era based around a comic act, the plot seems to be nothing more than a way to string a number of trademarked gags together. That's forgivable, though, if the gags are worth it. Duck Soup, for example, features a number of memorable acts. There's a funny scene where Groucho thinks he's standing in front of a mirror, but it's really his brother dressed as Groucho imitating his moves. There another funny bit in a courtroom where Chico objects to anything and everything. It goes on and on from there.

If you're a fan of classic cinema, vintage comedies, or the Marx Brothers themselves, then I think you'll enjoy this DVD set. Some of the films are really dated, but there's enough good stuff here to make it worth checking out.

The Extras:
The only extras on this DVD are a series of interviews from the Today show with Harpo Marx (1961), Groucho Marx (1963), and Harpo's son William Marx (1985). Harpo promotes his biography on the show and does a number of comedy routines which sadly seem dated even in 1961. Groucho also does a brief promo, but his interview is cut short by the Today Show correspondents. William Marx promotes a reissue of his father's biography and even brings along home movies that are the highlight of all the extras. If you're Marx Brothers fan you'll enjoy this.

The Bottom Line:
This is a required addition to the collections of Marx Brothers fans and those that enjoy classic cinema.

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