Delanceyplace.com 03/08/06-Groucho Marx
In today's excerpt: Groucho Marx, circa 1930
"In a pioneering work, American Laughter, film scholar Mark Winokur points out that 'the irony and disaffection in Groucho's voice, so comic to audiences, is aggressive and hostile. This quality (reveals) Groucho as a vaudeville comic accustomed to audience hostility'...
The quality could be discerned in Act I of The Cocoanuts when Groucho--as the hotel manager-- confronts the first of many widows (a Mrs. Potter, played by the rather large Margaret Dumont):
Groucho (as Mr. Schlemmer): Are you sure your husband's dead?
Mrs. Potter: Quite sure
Groucho: I feel better. I guess he does too. What I was going to say was, here I am and you're going to be here all winter, and I'm stuck with the hotel anyhow. Why don't you grab me until you could do better.
Mrs. Potter: My dear Mr. Schlemmer, I would never get married before my daughter.
Groucho: You did once. Don't forget, I love you, I'm mad about you.
Mrs. Potter: I don't think you'd love me if I were poor.
Groucho: I might, but I'd keep my mouth shut.
Mrs. Potter: Really, I'm afraid I must be going.
Groucho: Don't go away and leave me alone. You stay here and I'll go away.
Mrs. Potter: I don't know what to say.
Groucho: Well, say that you'll truly be mine, or truly yours, or yours truly, and that tonight when the moon is sneaking around the clouds, I'll be sneaking around you. I'll meet you tonight by the bungalow, under the moon. You and the moon. I hope I can tell you apart. You wear a red necktie so I'll know you."
Stefan Kanfer, Groucho, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, pp. 95, 98-9