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The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx Paperback – June 13, 2000


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The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx + Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx + Groucho And Me
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (June 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570213X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375702136
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The accretion of small errors in Kanfer's biography and anthology undermines his authority. -- The New York Times Book Review, Gary Giddins

From the Inside Flap

Groucho Marx may be the funniest man who ever lived.  Here in one volume are the classics of Marxian mayhem: excerpts from the scripts of the immortal movies, passages from his books, his articles for magazines ranging from The New Yorker to the Saturday Evening Post, the  choicest ad-libs and quips from his long-running game show, You Bet Your Life, and selected letters, including his classic correspondence with T. S. Eliot.  It's all here-the finest and funniest work by this century's most influential comedian, that man of whom Woody Allen said, "He is simply unique in the same way Picasso and Stravinsky are, and I believe his outrageous, unsentimental disregard for order will be equally funny a thousand years from now.  In addition to all this, he makes me laugh."

In the words of Groucho Marx:

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
How he go in my pajamas I don't know.

Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.  Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is like Richard Anobile's books but without the pictures. Not much effort/research went into the compilation of Groucho's writing and excerpts from films. Little, if anything, is new or hasn't been republished in the last 25 years. Much better is Robert Bader's compilation of Groucho's writing: Groucho Marx and Other Short Stories and Tall Tales
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rob on July 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I didn't know anything about the Marx Brothers, and I wanted to get a feel for who they were offstage. (I just saw "Duck Soup" for the first time, and now I just HAVE to get all of their movies! Absolute Genius!)
I read the other review, and wondered, but this book did just fine in giving me a look at who these wonderful entertainers when they weren't performing (well, mainly Groucho). Plus it has some transcripts form the movies and his show "You bet your life" ! All in all, a really easy and fun read. Enjoy!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David M. Giltinan on March 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a fine selection. There's a brief introduction by Groucho's biographer, Stefan Kanfer, a couple of Time magazine articles about Groucho, then the rest of the material is by the man himself. A kind of "greatest hits" volume. So you know it's guaranteed to be funny. It includes favorite scenes from "Animal Crackers", "Monkey Business", "Horse Feathers", "Duck Soup", "A Night at the Opera", and "A Day at the Races", among other films. There are some freelance articles, as well as selected material culled from his appearances on radio and TV.

All of this is reliably funny stuff, but for my money the best part of this book was "The Groucho Letters", roughly 30 pages of correspondence. There's the surreal correspondence between Groucho and Warner Brothers, who were trying to claim exclusive rights to the name 'Casablanca'. Letters to Fred Allen, Russell Baker, Alistair Cooke, and others. But the oddly moving center to the whole collection is an exchange of letters between Groucho and T.S. Eliot, initiated when Eliot, who was an avid fan, wrote in 1961, requesting an autographed photo.

Anyone troubled by the anti-Jewish sentiments in some of Eliot's writing should read these letters, which go a long way to softening the image of Eliot as a rabid anti-Semite. The two men obviously grew friendly, and held each other in high regard, as this excerpt from a letter from Groucho to Russell Baker shows:

(January 21, 1965)

I was saddened by the death of T.S. Eliot. My wife and I had dinner at his home a few months ago and I realized then that he was not long for this world. He was a nice man, the best epitaph any man can have ....

I recommend the book, though you may prefer to watch the films again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph G. on February 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Stefan Kanfer has done an excellent job of putting together a very entertaining collection. Script snippets, magazine articles, and correspondence -- this is an excellent overview of Groucho's genius. Yes, there are more exhaustive compilations of his scripts and letters available, but this book is intentionally a shorter "best of" collection; the subtitle -- "Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx" -- tells you what to expect.

I also heartily recommend this book to anyone learning the craft of comedy writing, as there are a lot of script excerpts included. I studied Groucho's works years ago when I was first starting out as a writer, and his economy of writing is revelatory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Christensen on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Send this book to a friend who needs a cheer up - or read it yourself for a laugh.

BTW, best essay in the book has to do with 'income tax.' If you've been taxed enough already,you may find it comforting to know that Groucho would feel your pain. Fun book.
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