Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Day at the Races: The Marx Brothers

The Marx Brothers, A Day at the Races, 1937.
Photograph by Ted Allen

Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation Archive, Santa Barbara Museum of Art

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The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act, originally from New York City, that enjoyed success in Vaudeville, Broadway, and motion pictures from the early 1900s to around 1950. Five of the Marx Brothers’ thirteen feature films were selected by the American Film Institute as among the top 100 comedy films, with two of them (Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera) in the top twelve.

The core of the act was the three elder brothers, Chico, Harpo, and Groucho; each developed a highly distinctive stage persona. The two younger brothers, Gummo and Zeppo, did not develop their stage characters to the same extent, and eventually left the act to pursue other careers. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared only in the first five.

- The Marx Brothers inspired the characters of Yakko, Wakko and Dot in the 90s animated cartoon series Animaniacs

- The British rock group Queen released in 1975 an album called A Night at the Opera, a name which they chose after watching the Marx Brothers' movie. Their next album was called A Day at the Races, also inspired by the Marx Brothers' 1937 movie.

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