Groucho Marx - Rotten Tomatoes

Groucho Marx



Although Groucho Marx was the third-oldest son of "stage mama" Minnie Marx, he was the first to take the plunge into show business. With his mother's blessing, the 14-year-old Marx took a job as a boy soprano with a group called the LeRoy Trio. This first engagement was nearly his last when, while on tour, he was stranded in Colorado and had to work his way back home. Marx was willing to chuck the theater and pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, but the undaunted Minnie organized Groucho, his younger brother Gummo, and a less than talented girl named Mabel O'Donnell into a vaudeville act called The Three Nightingales. Before long, Groucho's older brothers Chico and Harpo joined the act, which, by 1910, had metamorphosed into The Six Mascots (Minnie and the boy's Aunt Hannah rounded out the sextet). Fed up with indifferent audiences, Groucho began throwing jokes and insults into the act, directly addressing the crowd in as hilariously nasty a manner as possible. The audience loved it, and the four Marx Brothers eventually became a comedy team.



Through the many incarnations of their vaudeville act, the characters remained the same: Groucho, the mustached, cigar-chomping leader of the foursome, alternately dispensing humorous invectives and acting as exasperated straight man for his brothers' antics; Chico, the monumentally stupid, pun-happy Italian; Harpo, the non-speaking, whirling dervish; and Gummo (later replaced by Zeppo), the hopelessly lost straight man. During the run of their vaudeville sketch Home Again, Groucho was unable to find his prop mustache and rapidly painted one on with greasepaint -- which is how he would appear with his brothers ever afterward, despite efforts by certain film directors to make his hirsute adornment look realistic. After managing to offend several powerful vaudeville magnates, the Marx Brothers accepted work with a Broadway-bound "tab" show, I'll Say She Is. The play scored a surprise hit when it opened in 1924, and the brothers became the toast of Broadway. They followed this success with 1925's The Cocoanuts, in which playwrights George Kaufman and Morris Ryskind refined Groucho's character into the combination con man/perpetual wisecracker that he would portray until the team dissolved. The Cocoanuts was also the first time Groucho appeared with his future perennial foil and straight woman Margaret Dumont. Animal Crackers, which opened in 1928, cast Groucho as fraudulent African explorer Capt. Geoffrey T. Spaulding, and introduced his lifelong signature tune, the Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby classic "Hooray for Captain Spaulding." Both Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers were made into early talkies, prompting Paramount to invite the Brothers to Hollywood for a group of comedies written specifically for the screen. Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), and Duck Soup (1933) are now acknowledged classics, but box-office receipts dropped off with each successive feature, and, by 1934, the Marx Brothers were considered washed up in Hollywood. Groucho was only mildly put out; professional inactivity gave him time to commiserate with the writers and novelists who comprised his circle of friends. He always considered himself a writer first and comedian second, and, over the years, published several witty books and articles. (He was gratified in the '60s when his letters to and from friends were installed in the Library of Congress -- quite an accomplishment for a man who never finished grade school.)



The Marx Brothers were given a second chance in movies by MGM producer Irving Thalberg, who lavished a great deal of time, money, and energy on what many consider the team's best film, A Night at the Opera (1935). The normally iconoclastic Groucho remained an admirer of Thalberg for the rest of his life, noting that he lost all interest in filmmaking after the producer died in 1936. The Marx Brothers continued making films until 1941, principally to bail out the eternal

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet TV Mania Too!
  • Actor
2008
No Score Yet Groucho Marx & Redd Foxx
  • Actor
2007
63% Lipstick & Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet On Your Marx, Get Set, Go!
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet Remarks on Marx: A Night at the Opera
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet Groucho Marx - What Do You Want?
  • Actor
1991
No Score Yet Lucy: Queen of Comedy
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet Marx Brothers in a Nutshell
  • Actor
1982
36% Skidoo
  • "God"
1968
No Score Yet Merrily We Roll Along: The Early Days of the Automobile
  • Actor
1961
No Score Yet The Story of Mankind
  • Peter Minuit
1957
90% Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
  • Surprise Guest
1957
No Score Yet Person to Person
  • Actor
1954
No Score Yet A Girl in Every Port
  • Benjamin Franklin 'Benny' Linn
1952
No Score Yet Double Dynamite (It's Only Money)
  • Emile J. Keck
1951
No Score Yet Mr. Music
  • Himself
1950
No Score Yet Love Happy
  • Detective Sam Grunion
1950
No Score Yet Copacabana
  • Lionel Q. Deveraux
1947
57% A Night in Casablanca
  • Ronald Kornblow
1946
67% The Big Store
  • Wolf J. Flywheel
1941
89% Go West
  • S. Quentin Quale
1940
100% At the Circus
  • Attorney Loophole
1939
64% Room Service
  • Gordon Miller
1938
100% A Day at the Races
  • Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush
1937
No Score Yet The King and the Chorus Girl
  • Screenwriter
1937
97% A Night at the Opera
  • Otis B. Driftwood
1935
94% Duck Soup
  • Rufus T. Firefly
1933
No Score Yet Groucho Marx's Home Movies
  • Director
  • Actor
1933
96% Horse Feathers
  • Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff
1932
94% Monkey Business
  • Groucho
1931
96% Animal Crackers
  • Capt. Jeffrey Spaulding
1930
95% The Cocoanuts
  • Hammer
1929

Quotes from Groucho Marx's Characters