The Annotated Marx Brothers

A Filmgoer’s Guide to In-Jokes, Obscure References and Sly Details


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About the Book

Have you ever watched a Marx Brothers film and wondered what “habeas Irish rose” is? What is the trial of Mary Dugan with sound? What is a college widow? When exactly did Don Ameche invent the telephone? Their films are full of such in-jokes and obscure theatrical, literary and topical references that can baffle modern audiences. In this viewer’s guide to the Marx Brothers you will find the answer to such mysteries, along with an exhaustive compilation of background information, obscure trivia and even the occasional busted myth. Each of the Marx Brothers’ 13 films is covered by a running commentary, with points in the film discussed as they appear. Each reference is listed by its running time, with time code given for both PAL and NTSC DVD. An introduction for neophytes and a resource for fanatics, this book is a travel guide to the rambling landscape of these remarkable comedies.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Coniam has contributed to numerous books, magazines, journals and websites in Britain and America. He lives in Bath, England.

Bibliographic Details

Matthew Coniam

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 316
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9705-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1876-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
A Word About Time Codes  5
1. The Cocoanuts (1929)  7
2. Animal Crackers (1930)  31
3. Monkey Business (1931)  57
4. Horse Feathers (1932)  75
5. Duck Soup (1933)  92
6. A Night at the Opera (1935)  112
7. A Day at the Races (1937)  132
8. Room Service (1938)  151
9. At the Circus (1939)  166
10. Go West (1940)  188
11. The Big Store (1941)  205
12. A Night in Casablanca (1946)  220
13. Love Happy (1949)  236
14. The Incredible Jewel Robbery (1959)  254
Epilogue  263
I: Lydia the Tattooed Lady, Uncovered  265
II: Lydia the Tattooed Lady, Exhumed  268
Notes and Sources  273
Bibliography  297
Index  299

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Coniam has done a remarkable service for viewers of Marx Brothers films with this collection of answers to comedy ponderables…highly recommended”—Choice
  • “it’s gold to a real Marx Brothers fan”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly
  • “very interesting, entertaining, and enlightening…impressive…the quintessential look at the comedy team’s films…indispensible”—Examiner
  • “it might have been thought that there was nothing new to add to the legions of books on the Marx brothers, and then along comes this worthy and funny book…invaluable for the modern audience for the Marx Brothers…highly recommended”—Destructive Music
  • “an invaluable guide to some of the most surrealistic comedies ever produced in Hollywood”—Crime Time
  • “I’ve been hoping that someone would write a book like this. Now, when somebody doesn’t get Groucho’s joke about the Irish chiropodist in Animal Crackers. I don’t have to explain it. I can just point to this book!”—Randy Skretvedt, author of Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies