Monday, August 17, 2015

#TCMParty: Monkey Business (1931)

So last Friday night, the 14th, marked a return for me to the #TCMparty, the Twitter feed in which fans of the classic film network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) congregates virtually to live-tweet during movies aired by TCM. As I've said before, I'm of two minds about live-tweeting: I dig the social aspect of experiencing a movie online with other movie fans, but I don't like dividing my attention between my TV and my cellphone - and while I enjoyed taking part in it, I'm afraid my attitude on this hasn't changed. Hats off to those that do this sort of thing all the time, but I don't believe I want to do this more than a couple of times a year. Still, there's something about it that can be a lot of fun, which is why I join in the event.

The movie I picked this time was Monkey Business, an early Marx Brothers film. It was an easy choice, since plot is hardly the point of most Marx Brothers movies; one can watch them without needing to follow the plot too closely. Basically, the Marxes are stowaways on a cruise ship, and there are gangsters involved, and... [handwaves] It doesn't matter.

The nice thing about #TCMparty is that one can jump right in whether one is a newbie or a regular and be accepted right off the bat.

I kinda missed Margaret Dumont in this one, but Thelma Todd brings a different dynamic to this movie, being younger and sexier - and funnier! She holds her own in her scenes with Groucho without having to settle for setting up his jokes, and the result is a chemistry that's unique in a Marx Brothers movie. It's too bad she didn't do more movies with them.

And sure enough...

You gotta love it.

Groucho does a lot of dancing in this one, both solo and with Todd. Not that he was Fred Astaire or anything, but it's all part of the anarchic, anything-goes vibe that the Marxes generated in their films. If Groucho wants to dance, he'll dance.

Perelman was one of the screenwriters. He also co-wrote Horse Feathers. Won the Oscar for co-writing Around the World in Eighty Days for the screen.

Now that's something I wish I could've seen.

At some point someone brought up Zeppo's resemblance to Michael Cera... and pretty soon...
Once you've seen it, you can't un-see it.

There's a running gag in which they have to impersonate Maurice Chevalier by singing. How does Harpo, who doesn't speak, do it? The answer is priceless.

It's so peculiar! He leans forward and kinda squats as he walks.

Chico and Harpo both were exceptional musicians, with personal playing styles that made watching them as much fun as hearing them. Also:

Definite possibility.

And then it doesn't end so much as stop. I was distracted by something, so it didn't hit me at first that the movie was over so soon. I hate to think that they ran out of jokes!

Annie Hall


  1. It kinda looks like fun, but not something I can see myself getting involved with. When I watch a movie I like to give it my full attention - even something with which I may be overly familiar. It would feel too much like talking in the theatre, and that's just wrong.

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean, but I felt compelled to give this phenomenon some attention, especially this year because of the format change here, because it's as popular as it is. Some people engage in it multiple times a week. They obviously love it. I prefer to take part once in a blue moon.

  3. TCM Party is a lot of fun. I usually twet the most in the beginning and then stop to pay attention to the movie if I've never seen it. But with Monkey Business I could pay a little more attention to the tweeting, and ended up discovering things and remembering scenes much better because of the tweets!

  4. Which is exactly why I will never participate with a movie I've never seen unless I'm sure of what I'm gonna get, like with this one.


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