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Fast-paced anecdotes more than autobiography: so it fills the bill !
on 10 July 2009
Groucho and Me is just what it says: it's his own off-beat view of himself. Thankfully far from the 'celebrity' puff piece, this book digs deep into vaudeville history, immigrant city life, fast talking street smarts... and comes up with Groucho Marx' unique take on life. And what's more he wrote it himself. no 'ghosts' at work here.
When the Marx Brothers' films are seen today, they offer a different reality to what is available at the multiplexes. Although they were set in an equally make believe world -- where the studios decided what public taste probably wanted at the time -- the big difference between then and now is in the role of the throwaway gag; the one-liner; the quick riposte.
And here lies Groucho's special contribution. His wit, sharpened in traveling the vaudeville theater circuits with his brothers (an unlikely bunch of non-theatrical misfits who somehow pulled it together) is what remains, on celluloid, and in this book.
Groucho Marx is not widely known as a writer: but write he did for American periodicals of note in the middle years of the twentieth century. That skill is shown in this excellent, witty, history lesson. More a series of anecdotes than an autobiography in the boring old sense: it tells us much about the man, how he picked up the skills he needed, and then passed them back to us on stage, in films, and here.