Cinema: Horse Feathers

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After the War, Gummo entered the raincoat business. He now has a prosperous ladies' wear establishment in Manhattan. Zeppo, just out of high school, joined the act. Soon it was a great success. At Manhattan's Palace Theatre, Harpo fell into the pit. In London the Marxes were first booed, then applauded. In 1923 they bought and disorganized a musical comedy called The Thrill Girl (renamed "I'll Say She Is"), ran six months in Chicago, eight months in Manhattan. Their next plays were The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers. Their first cinema was an adaptation of The Cocoanuts. A year later, they made Animal Crackers, then Monkey Business, their first "original" screen play. Mrs. Samuel Marx, who stopped touring with her sons just before the War, later changed her name to Minnie Palmer, opened a theatrical agency in Chicago. She died just after the first Marx Brothers cinema was released. Father Samuel Marx, sleek, young-looking, happy, still addicted to pinochle, lives with Zeppo Marx in Hollywood.

Zeppo Marx, married to Marion Benda (Love 'Em and Leave 'Em), acts straight juvenile rôles. He does it poorly enough not to detract from the antics of his confrères. Chico, married to Cinemactress Betty Karp, is differentiated from other Italian dialect comedians by his ability to play the piano, by a certain irrelevant vehemence which makes it seem that he is chagrined by something but has forgotten what it is. Groucho Marx, married to Ruth Tyrell, dancer, is talkative, cool, depraved. The prototype of Hebrew wisecrackers, he rattles off disgraceful puns (invented for him in Horse Feathers by Harry Ruby, Bert Kalmar, S. J. Perelman) in tones of nasal nonchalance.

Far more depraved than Groucho, more irrelevant than Chico, more implausible than Zeppo is Harpo Marx. He never speaks, does not need to. His appalling brain expresses itself in a language more .disastrous than words. He pursues women with the abandon of a satyr and the stamina of Paavo Nurmi. Sofas and tables are his racetracks and it amuses him in Horse Feathers to coax dogs away from their masters into his flea-bitten equipage which has two canary cages in place of sidelights. His harp (which he still tunes and strums in utterly unorthodox fashions) is all that he apparently admires. On it he plays superbly with grace and sumptuous gestures. Having completed Horse Feathers, Harpo Marx took it into his head to visit Russia. Last week, leaving his animals (dog, cat, monkey) in his brothers' care, taking with him harp, red wig and Max Reinhardt, he set out from Hollywood to act in pantomime for the Moscow Art Theatre.

* The four older Marx brothers received their nicknames at Galesburg, Ill., in 1915, from Art Fischer, vaudeville monologist, who was playing poker with them. Groucho was glum, Harpo played the harp, Chico liked chicken. Gummo wore rubbers. Zeppo's nickname, selected by Groucho. means nothing.

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