The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (The Cocoanuts / Animal Crackers / Monkey Business / Horse Feathers / Duck Soup)
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Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the greatest comedy act in history with The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection. This essential DVD set features the legendary four Marx Brothers in five of their most acclaimed and best loved films - Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, Monkey Business, Animal Crackers and The Cocoanuts - the only five movies ever made with all four brothers together: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo!
There will be a debate of which 2004 DVD collection of Marx Brothers films was better. This Universal release of the better known Paramount-produced films are the only ones starring all four brothers: Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo. The Warner collection contains less-vital films, but is loaded with extras and commentaries. The Universal collection contains only 20 minutes of interviews from NBC's Today Show--interesting but short--with Harpo, Groucho, and Harpo's son Bill from the '60s and '70s. All of the films in this collection were released on DVD by Image Entertainment in 2000 and the prints look the same, which isn't necessarily bad; one just wishes a major restoration had been undertaken.
The films--packaged handsomely with a booklet--are essential Marx Brothers, their first five films made from 1929 to 1933. The least timeless is their first, The Cocoanuts, based on their Broadway hit. The film--one of the first full talkies--takes place in a hotel with owner Groucho out to grab every dollar. Animal Crackers is the brothers' first classic, a lickety-split comedy about an art theft being investigated by Groucho's alter-image, Captain Spaulding. For introducing youngsters to the work of Marx, Monkey Business is the best way. The shenanigans start right at the start as the brothers stowaway on a luxury liner. It's their first film that wasn't based on a play, as they endeavored to find new material. Horse Feathers gave them more fertile ground plus a sure-fire Hollywood director at the helm (Norman McLeoad). Their fantasia of college life includes the riotous football-game finale. Music, always a key part of their plays and films is given more weight here and includes Groucho's theme, "I'm Against It." Music is again key as the musicals of the era are spoofed in the brothers' undisputed masterpiece, Duck Soup. From a land called Fredonia, Groucho plays a slapdash ruler who rewrites the rules of governing, leading to a most memorable war with Sylvania (so war gets lampooned. too). Duck Soup also boasts the most famous Marx brothers sketch: Groucho trying to fool his mirror. --Doug Thomas
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Top customer reviews
AS OF NOW, THERE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE ANY PLANS TO RELEASE THE RESTORED FILMS IN THE DVD FORMAT. SO IF YOU BUY THAT PACKAGE, YOU ARE GOING TO GET THE SAME OLD VERSION WHICH HAS BEEN AVAILABLE FOR YEARS.
The latest incarnation of Marx mayhem is Universal's Blu-ray set of their five Paramount releases: THE COCOANUTS (1929), ANIMAL CRACKERS (1930), MONKEY BUSINESS (1931), HORSE FEATHERS (1932) and DUCK SOUP (1933). Made during Hollywood's unbridled pre-Code era, this quintet of comedic masterworks is representative of the Marx Brothers at their most surreal and anarchistic. These essential ingredients made their brand of humor truly unique, and became 'properly' compromised under the stricter regulations of the Production Code in 1934. Even the Marx's first film for MGM, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935), which many consider to be their best, isn't nearly as free and insane as the Paramounts. A need was felt at the time for the comedy to be grounded by strong storylines, romantic subplots and glossy, musical production numbers. The void caused by the exit of Zeppo as straight man was filled by various capable leading men, but it just wasn't the same as it was when there were the four brothers running amok and wreaking hilarious havoc.
This collection was sourced from the best available 35mm elements and remastered in 4K HD resolution for the highest quality presentation. That said, there are still some age related issues one must allow for, such as light scratches and audio hiss, all of which is minimal for the most part. The title that contains the brunt of such anomalies is the Marx's cinematic debut, THE COCOANUTS, which suffers from the early sound recording technology as well as having footage replaced in spots from lower grade elements. HORSE FEATHERS also still has some missing frames in the scene where the boys are running in and out of Thelma Todd's apartment. On the plus side is the restoration of a minute and a half of previously censored footage to ANIMAL CRACKERS. This was made possible by Universal acquiring an uncut, duplicate negative of an original release British print. Audiences are now able to enjoy the film as it was first shown 86 years ago. Happily, any digital cleanup was kept at a minimum, thus giving off a pleasing grain configuration that preserves the organic image quality of the source. It can safely be said that these classics have never looked better, and die-hard fans would do well to upgrade.
Extras include a new documentary, "The Marx Brothers: Hollywood's Kings of Chaos", five new audio commentaries by Harpo's son Bill Marx, film historians Anthony Slide, Jeffrey Vance and Robert S. Bader, film critics F.X. Feeney and Leonard Maltin, the Today Show interviews with Groucho, Harpo and Bill Marx, and an exclusive illustrated booklet on their career.
Treat yourself to this wonderful collection of some of the flat-out funniest movies ever made. Marx madness is a guaranteed tonic for the humdrum 'normalcy' of everyday life.
My highest recommendation.
These are great films from possibly the finest comedy team ever to appear in the cinema. The humour is both verbal and visual and there is enough to entertain those whose first language is not English. These films were made in the 1930s but still stand up well.
IN BASS. I PLAYED TO 15 OF MY FRIENDS 2 OF THE MOVIES BACK TO BACK .WELL THEY LEFT MY HOME WITH GRINS FROZEN ON THEIR FACES. CAN'T WAIT TIL"NIGHT AT THE OPERA " IS IN BLU-RAY. LOVE YOU MARX BROTHERS, SIGNED, DAVID LONDON
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