Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Anatomy of an Ad Campaign: The Marx Bros. A Day at the Races
The Marx Bros. output at M.G.M. was nowhere near as uncontrolled as that of their Paramount years. Credit cultivated producer Irving Thalberg for starting the Marxes on their long, slow celluloid decline.
Thalberg snatched the boys away from Paramount in 1935 after the studio failed to renew their contract. Aside from producing Freaks and giving the Marx Bros. a job when they needed it, Thalberg's so-called genius will forever escape me. The sickly "Boy Wonder's" early demise at the age of 37 came while A Day at the Races was in pre-production, but by then it was too late; his imprimatur would forever taint their work. Thalberg was personally responsible for less on-screen anarchy in favor of more musical numbers and juvenile romantic subplots.
To put it simply, Irving Thalberg favored cutaways to the Marx Bros. as opposed to cutaways from them. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Good taste and the Marx Bros. don't mix. Thalberg should have concentrated on Garbo and left Groucho alone.
The Rochester Journal. June 17, 1937.
The Sunday Morning Star. June 20, 1937.
The Calgary Daily Herald. July 23, 1937.
Need more Marx? Check out Anatomy of an Ad Campaign: The Marx Bros A Night at the Opera.
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