Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chico's odd hat antics

We've had a few intriguing communications in recent months from Bob Gassel, who I must assume, until I receive evidence to the contrary, is the same Bob Gassel who worked on the Jerry Springer Show and a programme called Lesbian Mom.
(Update: He was that Springer guy, and still is, but now he's also our pal Bob.)

A while back, he wrote to ask the following of you all:

The other day I attended my first Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and had a great time. I later looked online at the history of the big balloons and found a listing of when each was introduced. Suddenly I came across "1935: The Marx Brothers (without Zeppo)"!
Really? WTF! How could I have never heard of this? Does a picture or film exist anywhere? HELP!!!!

Unfortunately I forgot to post it at the time, but anyone got any thoughts?
Even more interesting was the following throwaway remark in a recent comment:

There's one quick shot in the Animal Crackers finale where Chico has his hat on backwards and over his must be from a totally different take, or is possibly not even Chico at all...

This is a matter that has been raised round here in the past, but for some reason I forgot to look into it further. Anyway, Bob has very kindly provided us with a couple of screen grabs. He writes:

It's only a couple of seconds long and the rest of the time Chico's hat is on normal…and while I'm pretty sure it's still Chico, he sure looks different.

He does indeed...

I agree with Bob that it is Chico, but why he's doing it, and why only in one shot I can't imagine.
Presumably he was in that quixotic mood that occasionally came over him, like when he pulls that face singing 'Freedonia, oh dont'ya cry for me."

But what do you think?
And thanks for joining our happy band, Mr Gassel!


David C. said...

In re the balloons in the Macy's Parade, check this out:

Marxes in the Macy's Parade

Bob Gassel said...

"Lesbian Mom"? huh? I had nothing to do with that...might just be a Jerry Springer episode title (where I still work)...

Matthew Coniam said...

Excellent, David; thanks!
Everybody over to David's place NOW!

Bob -
I got it from the imdb; now I look again I see it is just a single episode title they've chosen to highlight for some reason... along with Catfight Cuties... can't think why...
How about suggesting 'Rival Marx Brothers Impersonators at war'?

Damian O'Hara said...

I did a bit of looking around and found a mention of a Harpo Ballon appearing in the Grand finale of the Macy's Parade in 1936, the balloon was supposedly held down by 3 Grouchos and 3 Chicos (note no Zeppo!)This is mentioned in The Marx brothers: a bio-bibliography, P74, by Wes D. Gehring.

I couldn't find any pics or footage at all of the Harpo Balloon and find it hard to belive that nothing exists, but to give you a feel of what it might have been like here's a link to a clip from the 1935 parade with a very young looking Mickey Mouse!

Ginger Ingenue said...

Oh I noticed his hat trick the very first time I watched ANIMAL CRACKERS! I love that part!! :)

I bet Chico was just being silly, and they didn't notice it til later, and didn't want to retake the whole damn scene.

Actually, it seems like something is there -- maybe about Harpo and Chico being punks or something? -- and Chico is acting like a hoodlum?? I think that was my theory, back when I was obsessed, but I'd have to go re-watch it. Which is fine. I've got four of their five Paramounts dvr-ed right now.

Anyway, drooling over Chico helps you notice these things. In fact, I noticed something in MONKEY BUSINESS yesterday, but I'll never ever EVER in a million years tell a soul. Ha. Too funny: but proof where my eyes were. ;)

And what's this about the Macy's Parade? A Marx Brothers balloon?!

Matthew Coniam said...

Thanks for all the Macy's info, people.

But hurrying on to Ginger.... You must tell!
If not here, then email me.
Or at least let me know if I'm close: if I watch the film and try to find out for myself, would I be doing you an injustice if I nominate his lower half as where your eyes were?
Is he 'showing' at one point?

It's okay. We're scientists...

Bob Gassel said...

Ginger...Chico is plainly visible in the shots immediately before and after this with his hat on normally. This 2 second shot has to come from a totally different take, or the scene has been edited down to eliminate (a tall frosty glass) why Chico did this.

Ginger Ingenue said...

Matthew: Yes. Lower Half. Not an injustice. I'll tell you if you're close. ;)

You're all scientist, and I'm artist: together we should be able to solve the mystery of Chico and his pants.

Ha ha.

Bob: Sure, I'd love a glass of eliminate...and I understand; I guess I meant (but slightly forgot, considering my theory is about a year old; I'm only in my second and slightly less extreme Marx Bros obsession right now and have yet to put it all back in place; just the other day I saw the quote, "How many Frenchmen can't be wrong?" and although I knew immediately it was said by Groucho, I couldn't remember, at first, if it was from DUCK SOUP, MONKEY BUSINESS or ANIMAL CRACKERS) that I figured they had already filmed the scene, and at some point, illustrating the fact that Chico's a hoodlum, Chico pulled his hat down, or backwards, or whatever it is, then in a different take, fixed it. And for whatever reason, it's all scrumbled together. I don't know. Unlike you all, I am not a scientist. I am a lonely girl who studies men's backsides. ;)

Matthew: I had a question for daughter and I were watching HORSE FEATHERS the other night, and as much as we love the classroom scene, we never laugh when Groucho gets clipped with the book at the end, because it looks like he actually got hurt -- she asked me if he did, and I said I didn't know, but I'm guessing it was real and an accident??

Matthew Coniam said...

Okay: now I'm on a mission!

As weirdness would have it, I was watching that scene in the documentary Marx Brothers In a Nutshell last night, and was struck for the first time by exactly the moment you mention.
My conclusion is that it is a real surprise clunk, because you can see him start, and it comes at a 'natural' rather than pre-arranged moment in what he is saying.
I further conclude, however, that it did him no real harm, because you can see him decide to cut off what he's saying and go straight to the 'dying' coda, in the realisation that it was a good hit, and the perfect one to end on.

Does that make any sense at all, I wonder?

rasselas said...

I thought i was the only person ever to have noticed this. I am totally convinced that this is NOT Chico - who was presumably absent for this shot - but Zeppo covering for him. I have long waited for someone else to notice this or for some contemporary anecdote to explain it.

David Benson