Thursday, September 15, 2022

Episode 50: The Gods Look Down and Laugh (Our Animal Crackers Deep Dive featuring Heidi Gassel)


Not every Marx Brothers fan would name Animal Crackers when asked which film is their favorite, but as it happens, all three of your hosts would. And so would our especially special guest, Heidi Gassel. Animal Crackers is our favorite "by a mile," as Matthew puts it in the Annotated, because it seems to us the best available record of their work as performers. And that is why we say: Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Official description: "Our final plunge into the official Marx canon brings us to Animal Crackers and Bob’s favorite non-manicuring gal, Heidi, joins us for the ride.

"Your hosts have made no secret that this stands atop their ranking of Marx films, and here we go in-depth why…while also admitting it’s not really a good film at all. We discuss the differences with the original Broadway play, and compare the movie to their maiden film voyage, The Cocoanuts.

"We laud Animal Crackers' stellar writing, supporting cast, and even the sets, but have nary a good word for Art Garfunkel…or whatever his name is.

"So, if you can stand a couple of hours of us slobbering over this film, you’re in for a treat."

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

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Footnotes:

  • As mentioned in the episode, here are some photos from the Marxian wedding of Bob and Heidi Gassel:






  • And even some video of the happy event!

Friday, August 12, 2022

Episode 49: Four Empty Dunces (featuring Brad Sohlo)


Yes, yes, in this fascinating discussion of the affinity between the Marx Brothers and the intellectual elite -- with an emphasis on Alexander Woollcott, and with the splendacious Woollcott expert Brad Sohlo as our guest -- we do talk a little bit about Susan Fleming Marx's recently-published memoir Speaking of Harpo. But just a little. We'll discuss it in more detail -- later! Meanwhile, make yourself a plate of popovers and celery and give this a listen, even though it's not immoral, illegal, or fattening.

Official description: "A look at the Marx Brothers' relationship with intellectuals, focusing on Harpo's friendship with writer Alexander Woollcott. Council member and Woollcott authority Brad Sohlo joins us to decipher just why sophisticates were attracted to the team...and not always vice versa.

"Brad explains why it was the carefree Harpo and not the well-read Groucho who was embraced by the Algonquin Round Table. We discuss what Woollcott and Harpo saw in each other and why their curious friendship endured.

"And if you're worried that the conversation may be too high-brow, don’t worry, we’re treated to typical ‘Harpo gets naked’ stories…"

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

Download an MP3 directly to your computer.

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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Episode 48: Your Silent Partner


"I am the most fortunate self-taught harpist 
and non-speaking actor who ever lived."
Harpo Marx

Official description: "With the imminent arrival of Susan Marx’s Speaking of Harpo, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the (not) mute, (not) red-haired, (not) second-born, (not) Adolph Marx.

"Noah leads an examination of both the man and character, including the invaluable Harpo Speaks. We look at the evolution of his stage and screen persona, speculate if Harpo could have succeeded on his own, and explore the passion for his namesake instrument. We then have some fun giving Harpo 'hot takes,' before naming our favorite performances and other oddities.

"You’ll be left speechless.

"Name dropped in this episode: Steve Carrell, Bernie Goldstein, Richard Kiel"

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

Download an MP3 directly to your computer.

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Saturday, June 4, 2022

Episode 47: Bert & Harry Go West (featuring Scott Alexander)



Official description: "Not a fan of the Marxes' Go West? Wish it had been done by the guys who wrote Duck Soup? Well, it almost was. Acclaimed screenwriter and friend of the Council Scott Alexander joins us to discuss the film’s early scripts, penned by the legendary team of Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby.

"Groucho as a leering divorce lawyer, Chico as a phony fortune teller, Harpo acting like Harpo...who couldn’t love that? Apparently, MGM couldn’t, because they ended up changing everything, including the century the film takes place.

"Scott theorizes on why Kalmar, Ruby and their work were discarded…and portrays Margaret Dumont in a possible career-changing turn. Need we say more?"

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

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Footnote: Read Scott's original "term paper" covering his Go West investigations at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Episode 46: Deridin' the Range (Our Go West Deep Dive)


In 1851, Horace Greeley uttered a phrase that did much to change the history of these United States. He said: "NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR A PODCAST ABOUT GO WEST, YOUNG MAN!" This is a story of three men who made Horace Greeley wish he had said it louder.

Official description: "WARNING: The following podcast includes explicit descriptions of subpar screenwriting, overwrought direction, and all-around lousy decision-making.

"Admittedly not our favorite Marx Brothers film, but one we sure had fun talking about. We explore whether the problem is the material or just our expectations. We ask if the road tour actually helped, why they switched Dan Wilsons, and how come MGM didn’t spend $4000 to save $50,000.

"Along the way, we are joined by the late June MacCloy, who played the whore Lulubelle, with juicy excerpts from a 1999 interview.

"Like prospectors in the old west, we sift thru the dreck to find nuggets of gold…or in this case, smaller pieces of dreck. Expect our trademark misguided insight and lame sarcasm peppered with way too many references to the Three Stooges."

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

Download an MP3 directly to your computer.

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Bonus Episode: Meet the Manicurist



There is one mystery that has haunted humankind, left us forever grasping for a sense of order and resolution in the cruel and random chaos of existence. If we knew -- really knew -- the identity of the woman who plays the manicurist in A Night at the Opera, it wouldn't just satisfy our interest in Marx Brothers arcana. It would give purpose to the experiment of human life on Earth.

But, unfortunately, we still don't know. April Fools!


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Episode 45: That En-cy-clo-pidia! (featuring Glenn Mitchell)


It speaks well of the Marx Brothers and their fans that there's such a massive shelf of outstanding books about the team and their work. At or near the top of that list is Glenn Mitchell's ambitious work of reference, The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. This month, the man himself joins us for a discussion of his work.

Official description: "If you prefer your film history told alphabetically, then this is the episode for you!

"Glenn Mitchell, author of The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia, as well as similar volumes on Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, joins us to not only tell the story of his fact-based books, but also grace us with some actual opinions. We learn his favorite Marx films, his least favorites, and the one he likes but can’t sit all the way through. 

"Glenn details how his books came to be, why they stopped, and what the next one would have been. He reveals rare discoveries made in the days of pre-internet research, as well as his take on the current state of Marx fandom…including an encounter with a guy who couldn’t comprehend the team’s name. 

"Glenn also touches on the uncut version of Horse Feathers, answers questions from the Facebook group, and gives Bob a surprising answer to his predictable manicurist inquiry."

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

Download an MP3 directly to your computer.

Stream the episode via Cast.

Listen and subscribe via Google Podcasts.

Listen and subscribe via Apple Podcasts.


Episode 50: The Gods Look Down and Laugh (Our Animal Crackers Deep Dive featuring Heidi Gassel)

Not every Marx Brothers fan would name  Animal Crackers  when asked which film is their favorite, but as it happens, all three of your hosts...