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8.28.2009

The Marx Brothers III: Monkey Business

Monkey Business is, second, or in-a-tie-for-first with Animal Crackers for best early film by the Marx Brothers. It's still largely a filmed stage performance, but the characters here are, for the first time, fully developed (uh, except for Zeppo). They seem natural, not like they're trying to act like Groucho and Chico and Harpo, but actually BEING Groucho and Chico and Harpo. Sadly, no Dumont, but a lovely Thelma Todd, who was probably murdered by the mob. The plot is barely there, which is fine. The Marx Brothers are the stars here and they all shine brilliantly. It's just a parade of insanity from one scene to the next. This, I argue, is why the Marx Brothers are madcap and not screwball. There's no convoluted plot to keep up with, it's more about the sheer absurdity of it all, which is why they never age. They're just ripping up the scenery, literally. The clips below get my vote for funniest Groucho performance ever. This is the source of Bugs Bunny in its purest form: the absurdity, non sequiturs, disrespect for authority, playfulness and utter disregard for reality is all here. Of course, they also had the best writers in America working on these films, but this is a brilliant original American comedy creation that has easily withstood the test of time.



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