Film Buffs: The Next Generation
It has been my goal for the last couple of years to introduce Classic Films to my sons Ben and Alex. This isn’t being done to them against their will. They are very willing to watch these films, but this doesn’t mean that all of the movies have been a success. They both enjoy mysteries and comedies. Rear Window has been watched several times, and It Happened One Night stayed with them to the point that my youngest, Alex, was interested in trying raw carrots after watching Clark Gable eat one. Darker more dramatic movies didn’t always work with them. The movie Rebecca didn’t hold their interest as much as I had hoped, but they at least experienced it. I feel that watching these movies is necessary to their education, and to make them better well-rounded individuals. These classic movies are referenced all the time, and this generation is just not getting it. I love that if I brush my finger on the side of my nose Alex will do the same because he knows it is the conman’s signal from watching The Sting. Plus, I just plain want to share my love of these movies with them. Last Saturday we watched the Marx Brothers’ comedy, A Night in Casablanca, and it was received better than my wildest dreams.
I knew that they really enjoy visual comedy, which is evident in their love of both Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers movies. With this in mind, I thought that a Marx Brothers’ movie would be a good choice for movie night. My youngest sits down to watch, and immediately starts with questions about the movie. He wants to know what type of movie it is. I explain to him that it’s a “slapstick” comedy. This answer results in more questions, because he doesn’t understand the term. He asks if it is going to be live-action, because my explanation of “slapstick” made it sound like the over-the-top antics usually found in an animated movie. I explain that the people will be real — slightly crazy — but real. When the title comes up my oldest jokingly asks if this movie is a sequel to Casablanca. These questions show that these boys are going into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about the Marx Brothers. Quite frankly, how does one explain the Marx Brothers? It is best to just experience them.
Well, if I had any doubts about them liking the movie, it was resolved in the first twenty minutes when Alex started rolling on the floor in a laughing fit over Harpo’s dueling scene. When the scene ends, he declares that Harpo is his favorite. Harpo might be his favorite, but both boys are very impressed with Chico’s piano playing. The funny thing is that they didn’t really have much to say about the most famous brother, Groucho. I think the reason for this is that his humor is less visual, and they don’t really get the double entendres that is his thing. One of the last scenes takes place in a hotel room, and there is a bit with the closet doors that have both boys laughing out loud. The finale scene with Harpo piloting a plane (I did mention he was the favorite) has Alex beginning to annoy his brother with his repeated statement of “I love this guy”.
Chico at the piano
When the movie ends and the credits roll they are both shocked to see that the names that I have been referring to during the movie are their actual names. “Who would name their child that?” was the reaction of my oldest son, Ben. This reinforces the total lack of previous knowledge of these people before watching the movie, and I found their complete innocence on the subject rather sweet. I explain to them that these are their stage names, and their parents are not responsible for giving them these names. My youngest, Alex wants to know more about them, “Do they have any other movies?”. He wants to know more about their career, and is curious to know if other people know about them. He asks if they are planning on showing any of their movies at the film festival that I have been talking about these days, and if they are, then he is “so jealous”. Yes, he is just that adorable.
The Brothers: Chico, Groucho and Harpo
The evening ends with Alex declaring that he wants to see more “really old movies” and he starts to re-watch his favorite *cough* Harpo *cough* parts. Guess who is getting some Marx Brothers’ movies for Christmas? Ben has always been the one that has shown a greater interest in the classic movies, so this did my heart good to see that this might be when Alex becomes a classic film buff too.
–Pam Fallon Thornley for Classic Movie Hub
A BIG THANK YOU to Pam for sharing another wonderful post with Classic Movie Hub. You can follow Pam on Twitter at @FallonThornley ; Pam always shares such wonderful Classic Movie Facts and Quotes with CMH on Twitter!