- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Interlink Books; Reprint edition (June 1 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1566560330
- ISBN-13: 978-1566560337
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 694 g
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers Paperback – Nov 15 2017
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From the Back Cover
This is the first full and properly researched biography of all five Marx Brothers?Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo. First and foremost, this is the saga of a family whose theatrical roots stretch back to mid-19th century Germany. From Groucho Marx?s first warblings with the singing Leroy Trio, this book brings to life the vanished world of America?s wild and boisterous variety circuits, leading to the Marx Brothers? Broadway successes and their alliance with New York?s theatrical lions, George S. Kaufman and the ?Algonquin Round Table.? Never-before-published scripts, well-minted Marxian dialogue, and much madness and mayhem feature in this tale of the Brothers? battles with Hollywood, their films, their loves and marriages, and the story of the forgotten brother Gummo.
About the Author
Simon Louvish is a biographer of comedians and author of satirical and outrageous fiction. He is a film screenwriter and teaches film at the London Film School. His film biographies include, Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Story of W. C. Fields, Chaplin: The Tramp’s Odyssey, Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy, Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennet, Cecil B. DeMille: A Life in Art, and Mae West: It Ain't No Sin.
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If you made up the stat how does it make a point! This is just one example of Louvish's annoying habit of adding cute commentary to a book that needs none. The facts about the Marx's (and to give Louvish credit Zeppo and Gummo do not get the short end of the stick for once) don't need embellishment, they are interesting enough without the "clever" quips. True Marx fans may find the wading through the syrup worthwhile.
For instance; The Marx Brothers always claimed that their father Frenchy was the worst tailor in New York City. The Marx history is riddled with tales of poorly-cut jackets, ill-fitting pants, angry customers and no repeat business. Louvish had the initiative to investigate this story by looking at turn-of-the-century census records of their neighbors to see their occupations. Surprize! Their neighbors were butchers, store owners, and other occupations well above the poverty line, suggesting that Frenchy could not have been so bad a tailor as to live in a decent neighborhood. Louvish's initiative has also led to the unearthing of previously lost scripts of vaudeville routines by checking with the Library of Congress for copies submitted at the beginning of the century for copyright protection. In the book there are many more examples of the very creative detective work performed by Mr Louvish.
Most complaints of this book stem from the writing style Louvish chose to use for the book; He uses Marx quotes to pepper the book with a humorous, familiar tone, which seems to bother some readers. I appreciated the style, mainly because biographies can tend to be quite dry, and Marx Brother fans repeatedly use the same quotes in their shared conversations as well. This led me to take Mr Louvish for a full-scale Marx Brothers fan and the chatty tendency confirmed to me that he is a friend, interested in my favorite comedy team and speaking to me as other fans do. A very brave risk on his part, popularly misconstrued, but hit home with me.
This book is the closest factual account of the Marxes that we'll probably ever see. It's well worth the journey.
This has been a good year for fans of the Marx Brothers, probably the most new books out at one time since the 1970's. I hope we will continue to see more.