TV Party Tonight! 020

TV Party Tonight! 020

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016
COLUMN

The Marx Brothers
Silver Screen Collection
Restored Edition (Blu Ray)

I’ve always said I’m late to the game. And as a fan of comedy, one can never be more late to the game than getting into the Marx Brothers now. Oh, of course I’ve known who they are because I’ve been a Warner Bros cartoon fan ever since I was a kid. Those cartoons were full of Groucho cameos and appearances. But it’s only a couple years ago that I decided to sit down and actually absorb the Marx Brothers’ movies. It was a genie that took quite some time to put back in the bottle. I simply didn’t want to.

What strikes you immediately watching the Marx Brothers 80 years after their movies came out is just how well they still work. And that’s mostly due to the writing and the pacing. A Marx Brothers movie throws everything at the viewer – everything AND the kitchen sink – and it does so at a mile a minute. And of course the chemistry between the brothers is undeniable as they cause all sorts of havoc, turning the laws of physics sideways and the laws of grammar upside down. These jokes come fast and can be very subtle, so repeated watching is essential to uncover all the nuggets. It’s truly remarkable what a wide net they aimed to cast in their joke structure and how entertaining and downright funny these movies can still be after so many years. Especially considering these were essentially stage shows translated into movies. The scenery and plot is simple, the comedy is not. Marx brothers’ movies truly have to be seen to be believed.

One thing that unfortunately has made these movies suffer over the years has been scarcity and censorship. Few good prints of these movies still remain and they’re in shoddy shape containing jokes cut by censors. This is why this new Blu Ray collection is so essential. Paramount has collected Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup for this release, and I should stress that Animal Crackers and Duck Soup are worth the price of admission here alone. These movies have been has remastered and cleaned up and they look as vibrant and sharp as can be considering the technology we’re dealing with. Also restored are various jokes and scenes which were cut by censors and we now have the full movies to enjoy. This was a long time coming and the results are simply marvelous.

My one gripe is the lack of special features and the presentation in this package. We get one full length feature and commentary tracks on the movies (these are actually very informative and contain various trivia and behind the scenes anecdotes in the making of the movies) which have to be accessed using the pop-up feature on the remote. The menus themselves are stills of the movie posters. That’s it! This is a little too minimalist considering the over-the-top subject matter, but I’m willing to let it fly considering the work done on these movies is impeccable.

The Marx Brothers’ comedy has remained funny and relevant for almost a hundred years, and with this Paramount collection, it’s bound to be that way for a hundred more.

Get your copy here!

 

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