Some classes happily go on to the Marx Brothers after finishing up with Chaplin. This year’s class would have none of them, but last year’s class couldn’t get enough. You just never know.
I begin by telling the kids a bit about the four brothers: the talkative Groucho, the silent-harp-playing Harpo, the fake-Italian-novelty-piano-playing Chico, and the occasional-straightman Zeppo. Then I tend to start with A Night At the Opera since many consider it their best. Here’s a neat NPR feature on the creation of the film. And here’s that famous stateroom scene:
Others that have gone down well with my students are Horsefeathers (lots of football hijinks) and Duck Soup (my personal favorite). Oddly enough, I can’t find any kids’ books about them!
6 responses to “Old Movies for Kids: The Marx Brothers”
Monica, I can’t tell you how tickled I am with this series of posts! I recently finished pouring over The Best Old Movies for Families, which was written by Ty Burr, the film critic for the Boston Globe. It’s packed with great ways to get kids interested in cinema from the early 60s and before. Since then our Netflix queue has been brimming with glorious oldies. My kids are much younger than your students (5, 3, and 7 months) so their tastes have run more along the lines of Laurel & Hardy’s The Music Box and various Busby Berkeley routines we can see on YouTube. But Duck Soup! — gotta get that one soon.
I hope to write some picture book biographies of stars from the early years of cinema sometime within the next year. Of course, now that I’ve said it, watch a million people beat me out the gate.
Your students are sooooo lucky. I used to do this as part of my library lessons. Danny Kaye’s “Vessel with the pestle…”
If you didn’t share these classics with them, they might never know about the Marx brothers. As baseball season nears, I long to bring out “Who’s on First?”
I’m having a blast with this series. I’ve already been using Youtube for old Cinderella and Alice stuff, but it is fun to use it to draw people’s attention to all these no-longer-so-well-known masters of comedy.
David, that would be great! I’ve been thinking about doing a Chaplin someday myself. But I like his character, I think, more than him.
That’s great that you’re showing students the Marx Brothers, more teachers should introduce kids to the classics.
If you like, here is my entry on the Marx Brothers:
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