The Marx Brothers – mustachioed, stogie-smoking ring-leader Groucho, chatty, Italian-accented con man Chico, silent skirt-chaser Harpo and, early on, relatively “normal” matinee idol Zeppo – first got their start as a vaudeville comedy act at the turn of the 20th century. They would go on to conquer the Broadway stage before landing in films when “talkies” took off.
Zeppo would drop out of the act after five films, becoming an engineer and a talent agent. But his older siblings would continue their frenzied verbal and visual hilarity on the big screen until 1949, when the medium of television beckoned and competed for eyeballs. Groucho would host a TV version of his radio game show, “You Bet Your Life,” for 11 seasons on NBC and appeared on Dick Cavett’s TV talk show in the late ‘60s. That is when their Marx Brothers’ anarchistic approach to humor and word-play takedowns of hypocrites and stuffy high-society types hit a nerve with the counterculture.
Most of the Marx Brothers’ oeuvre can be found for free on YouTube. Here are all 13 of their movies, ranked from worst to best, including “Animal Crackers,” “A Night at the Opera” and “Duck Soup.”
– Original text and gallery published in October 2018.