Thursday, January 06, 2005

clown jewels

Thank god for HVN (Home Video Network, for any of youse guys unfamiliar with buying original VCDs or DVDs. Shame on you! He he). If not for them, I wouldn't have had to dig deep inside my pockets to buy stacks of Jerry Lewis films, and now the Marx Brothers' films. Thank you so much for having the good sense to bring in these movies.

I've already written about The Nutty Professor earlier. So I won't be talking about Jerry Lewis, although I've already seen Cinderfella, The Geisha Boy and The Bellboy, all of 'em Jerry Lewis movies. Instead I'll be writing about Duck Soup and Animal Crackers, 2 Marx Bros movies already in the market here in Malaysia.

I've never seen any Marx Bros films before, so I didn't know what to expect when I bought Duck Soup. All I know is that they're comedians from a long lost era, i.e when people still appreciate slapstick and in turn the slapstick is done with more thought and planning into it than you might think is possible. I put on the VCD and saw Groucho making his entrance into the film. His dialogue is delivered incredibly fast, and the audio, due to it being a 70 plus year old film is terrible and hard to decipher. I didn't laugh much. Have I just wasted my hard earned cash here, I thought. Then came Chico and Harpo. Suddenly the movie springs to life and I was I rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. Suddenly I realised I hit jackpot. Harpo was brilliant. Chico was not as funny as Harpo, but still funnier than Groucho. But I was just amazed at the insanity and lunacy of the film. If there's one word that could sum up the Marx Bros' appeal, it's their lunacy and healthy appetite for anarchic physical and verbal comedy.

Then I saw Animal Crackers. By now I realised that each Marx carries their own persona into each film. Harpo is always silent, and is the most 'physical' of the lot in his comedy. And believe me, he is absolutely bonkers!! Chico has this Italian-Jewish accent thing. And Groucho delivers some the most silly, clever, and sometimes brilliant put-downs you'll ever hear. And the script is full of puns. Some you'll catch and make you laugh, some you'll miss and maybe catch later during subsequent viewings. Examples:

Groucho: "One day I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How it got into my pyjamas, I don't know."

Groucho:"And then I saw a moose. Ah.. the moose. What a splendid creature. I bet you don't know what a moose is. It's those little things running on the floor that's fond of cheese. Yes, the moose."

One character shouts: "Three cheers for Capt. Spaulding! Three cheers for Capt. Spaulding!"
And then Harpo comes in with 3 chairs to give to Capt. Spaulding.

Both films are full of these kinds of moments. Depending on who you are, you may or may not like it. I can definitely say I like it, even love it. But my best friend's really annoyed by them. Well, we all have our choices. Boo!

Anyway, support HVN and go buy these films. The pirates are definitely fantastic in bringing some fantastic films to our very own homes. But HVN is definitely catching up fast.

Rating: Duck Soup (8 out of 10)
Animal Crackers (7 out of 10)

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