Books: Restoration Comedy

THE MARX BROTHERS AT THE MOVIES by Paul D. Zimmerman and Burt Goldblatt. 224 pages. Putnam. $7.95.

What has eight legs and laughs? ran the question in the '30s. Answer: the Marx Brothers. Later they lost a pair of legs, when Zeppo dropped out of the act. Groucho, Chico and Harpo went on to make eight more films together, becoming precursors of the new American humor. Groucho's flip irrelevancies foreshadowed the theater of the absurd: "I'd horsewhip you if I had a horse." Harpo was a troll bridge between the silents and the talkies....

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