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Offhand, I can think of two Jacks...
February 21, 2011 2:59 PM   Subscribe

When the legal department of Warner Bros. were notified of a forthcoming feature-length Casablanca spoof in 1945 - A Night in Casablanca, featuring a lead character named 'Humphrey Bogus' - they were naturally curious as to the specifics, and so innocently requested more information from the movie's creators, the Marx Brothers. Very quickly Groucho, sensing the opportunity for free publicity, fabricated a lawsuit from the studio and a crowd-pleasing defense...
You claim you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without their permission. What about Warner Brothers -- do you own that, too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about Brothers? Professionally, we were brothers long before you were. When Vitaphone was still a gleam in the inventor's eye, we were touring the sticks as the Marx Brothers and even before us, there had been other brothers -- the Smith Brothers; the Brothers Karamazoff; Dan Brouthers, an outfielder with Detroit; and "Brother, can you spare a dime?" This was originally "Brothers, can you spare a dime" but this was spreading a dime pretty thin so they threw out one brother, gave all the money to the other brother and whittled it down to "Brother, can you spare a dime?"
posted by hippybear (14 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Groucho Marx, I salute you; we shall not see your kind again.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:11 PM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wonder if Groucho ever worked with Barbra Streisand ("the Effect").
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:14 PM on February 21, 2011


"The younger Warner Brother calls himself Jack. Does he claim that, too? It's not an original name -- it was used long before he was born. Offhand, I can think of two Jacks -- there was Jack of 'Jack and the Beanstalk', and Jack, the Ripper, who cut quite a figure in his day. "

There must be a word for a pun that makes you want to cry and applaud at the same moment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:20 PM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, the PR campaign was a lot more entertaining than the film itself, which sort of sucks (and I say this as a committed Marxist).
posted by Skeptic at 3:24 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Harpo clearly took mother Minnie's advice, that if you can't say anything nice, to not say anything at all.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:40 PM on February 21, 2011


Speaking of Casablanca spoofs: Bugs Bunny in Carrot Blanca.

(note: surreal stunt-casting).
posted by ovvl at 4:08 PM on February 21, 2011


Oh, it's a 1995 Bugs Bunny short. Sadly, it shows. :(

Still, it's pretty funny in that "we'll never compete adequately with the Animaniacs" kind of way.
posted by hippybear at 4:20 PM on February 21, 2011


Harpo clearly took mother Minnie's advice, that if you can't say anything nice, to not say anything at all.

Pretty much, actually. Harpo got stung by an early review which said that he was very funny onstage until he started speaking. So he started a mute character, became very funny period, charmed the New York intelligentsia, was confused by the moviegoing public for Ingrid Bergman, etc.
posted by Spatch at 4:36 PM on February 21, 2011


Now that's writing!

I loved "I am sure that the average movie fan could learn to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don't know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try."
posted by serazin at 5:14 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really not fair to compare all 90s animation to "Animaniacs." The Brothers Warner and their Sister Dot were Groucho, Harpo, and a girl Chico right down to the gookie.
posted by crataegus at 5:52 PM on February 21, 2011


Harpo, previously.
posted by Lexica at 7:55 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Groucho went with his son Arthur to the Sands Point Sun and Bath Club on Long Island, he was denied admittance because he was Jewish. The story goes that Groucho asked the club manager: "Since my son is only half Jewish, can he go into the water up to his knees?"
posted by jleisek at 8:38 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just realized how much Paul F Tompkins reminds me of Groucho's stream of consciousness style of humor. And how much I love them both.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:26 AM on February 22, 2011


Ah, Groucho. How sorely we need your unmatched anarchy and brilliance, and most of all, your goring of sacred cows, in the world these days .....
posted by blucevalo at 8:22 AM on February 22, 2011


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