Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marx Mysteries Solved While You Wait! Just ask the council...

The man I feared was destined to be known forever as Weirdo, the illusory sixth Marx Brother, has been identified, apprehended and charged.
If by any chance you've no idea what I'm talking about, you can either go back to here and start again, or if you'd rather, here's a quick update.
Earlier this week, my friend Richard alerted me to this CD, on the EMI label, which proudly offers the purchaser some Groucho Marx Madness and isn't joking, since it insanely opted to put a picture of someone done up like Groucho on the cover rather than the genuine article:
I was amused to see so prestigious an outfit as EMI making so elementary a gaffe, and was also keen to know just who it is under the greasepaint.
Since then, I've learned that the same mistake has been made many times, such as here:
... and even, recently, by Penguin Books, who have reissued their Essential Groucho anthology with the same pesky interloper front of house:
. Under the circumstances, a somewhat ironic choice of title.
Then, in what seemed like a couple of days, and not without reason, the answer arrived, courtesy of council member Tom, who wrote:

"Mystery solved! I know who this person is. He's Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. I bought a copy of the book Life goes to the Movies back in 1976. The picture is on page 222."

And he's right, even about the page number, which is the sort of thing I'd be just as likely to get wrong, figuring that it doesn't really matter and it's easier to just guess if you've already put the book back on the shelf in another room. (I should perhaps stop and explain here that I keep most of my books in a different room from the one the computer's in, hence the scenario outlined in the previous sentence.)
And as proof, if proof be needed, and I always think proof be welcome even if it not necessarily be needed as such, we have this. (Thanks to council member and fellow Marx blogger David for the link. And for the Manly Blogger Guy Award, but that's another story.)
Or if you prefer your proof a little more visual, techno-savvy and eerie in a way you find it difficult to fully put your finger on, here's a picture of Eisenstaedt taken accidentally when he mistook his mirror for Groucho pretending to be him without make up and raised his camera in an effort to burst the illusion, followed by council member Damian's ingeniously photo-shopped moustache-free version of the CD cover pic:

It makes you wonder if all men look like they're sucking an enormous gumball when you photoshop their moustache off or if there was something special about Alfred. Nonetheless, nasty swelling or no, the jury don't need to retire long before reaching their verdicts here.
So thanks to Tom, Damian, David, Richard and everyone else who helped to make this half-century-old puzzle such a Rider Haggard-style page-turner.
And I leave you with the news that Penguin books have finally selected the cover photo for their forthcoming re-issue of The Groucho Letters:
. Apparently it was taken during an ad break on You Bet Your Life.

(Hey, David! Does this entitle me to a second Manly Blogger Guy Award?)


Tom said...

Glad that I was able to be of service. My copy of the book Life Goes to the Movies was also in another room. It was downstairs in the basement on a shelf with a lot of boxes sitting in front of it. It took a bit of moving boxes and stretching to get the book off the shelf.

Matthew Coniam said...

Then I'm even more impressed!

Ginger Ingenue said...

How interesting!

I can't believe this photographer in Groucho's clothing was actually used on the cover of a Groucho biography.

You'd think they'd have fact-checkers for that sort of thing.

Hell, I've only seen one movie by the Marx Brothers, so far, and even I can tell that ain't Groucho!

"It makes you wonder if all men look like they're sucking an enormous gumball when you photoshop their moustache off"


I wonder. ;)

Matthew Coniam said...

You have invented a great new synonym for a deceptive or misleading person or thing: "a photographer in Groucho's clothing."

Which is the one film you've seen?

Just voted at your site: as there was no option for my ideal choice (no preference, I like to think of the whole team as one thing) I went tactical and voted for Chico, the one who tends least to get a fair appraisal.

Great site you've got there, by the way. Thanks for visitng mine.


David C. said...

I left a link on my blog to the original LIFE article with the Eisenstaedt photo. It was off a couple pages. Here's the correct link.

Matthew Coniam said...

Thanks David - Veronica was worth the wait...

Skinny Arbuckle.... said...

this blog is a god send. and i'm an atheist! i too have a book with that photo on it. i'm going to go search my library for it.

that photo always troubled me too. you have scratched an itch!


Ginger Ingenue said...

Thanks, Matthew!

I like yours, too. :)

A NIGHT AT THE OPERA is the only one I've seen, so far.

DUCK SOUP is my next one, if Netflix will ever send it. ;)

As for the poll: Gosh, I wish I would have thought of that! To make 'All of them!' a choice, instead of just listing them solo.

Lolita said...

Hahaha! What the fuck?? This is absurd! I wonder if they will correct it, or if they really think that anyone with a grease moustache will do as Groucho? Even my boyfriend (correction: fiancé!) spotted the fault right away, and he's no classic film expert. Jesus Christ...
Oh, and that last photo was hilarious. Your are a true Brit in heart, spirit and humour, Matthew!

Matthew Coniam said...

Thanks for the kind words. Let me know if you need anymore scratching done...

Night at the Opera is a lovely film, but I think you'll notice a big change as you move backwards into their Paramount films. The gloss disappears and they become much wilder.

Both of you:
Please keep coming back for more of this rubbish.

Do you think we should actually write to them pointing out their error? It would be interesting to hear what they say.

C.C. Baxter said...

I love that photographer guy, he's my new hero and it's now my aim in life to appear on the cover of some other chaps biography.

Matthew Coniam said...

Whose would be your first choice?

Mary Mallon said...

Congrats on the extremely awesome research, to say the very least! At the danger of risking my life, I will admit that I quite like Eisenstaedt's Groucho. :-D He's a cute, scrawny little fellow.

Matthew Coniam said...

Mary -
I've seen worse Groucho lookalikes, that's for sure... albeit rarely on the cover of 'The Essential Groucho.'
But yes, he has something, and I've been wondering lately if that isn't actually him in "Love Happy".
Thanks for looking in!