Groucho Marx, the comedian who struck down toxic masculinity

Choose the best movie marx brothers It’s like playing an infallible lottery, no matter what number you play, the more likely it is that you hit. Perhaps the roundest is A Night at the Opera (1935), in which that sequence of the overflowing cabin on the ship has become a universal expression to say that a place is overcrowded.

Another mythical moment of the film, in which it is revealed the Kafkaesque aspect that his work always hadis the one in which Groucho reads a contract and says that thing about “the contracting party of the first part”, which is still the best parody of bureaucracy and the pitfalls of legalistic language.

Opportunist, scoundrel, cheeky, foul-mouthed, rude… grouch marx provokes a liberating laugh because it actually represents us. He perfected his character to the sublime but he did not invent it. the jewish traditionin which humor, often black, is fundamental, created the schlemielarchetype opposite to the hero.


The schlemiel he’s the guy who messes up at a social gathering, the guy who spills a cup of scalding hot coffee on his sweetheart on the first date, and the “coward” who doesn’t want to go to war not because he’s a pacifist but simply because he’s scared. . Not only that, in a hyper-capitalist society like the United States, they embody over and over again the dignity of lose.

Together with his brothers, the unforgettable Harpo, the mute clown and poet, and Chico, the rough and tumble guy from the streets of New York, he built some of the greatest comedies of all time. They began in the theater, tanning themselves on the hard boards of Broadway, and their first films, the four coconuts (1929) and The conflict of the Marxes (1930) adapted those early hits. Combine the strength of slapstickthe gag based on physical humor, with the ingenuity which is also part of the Hebrew tradition, that people who overcame all the exiles and pogroms turning sarcasm into a catharsis.

The 30’s in a state of grace

In the 1930s they signed their best films. goose soup (1933) is a masterpiece, a brutal satire against the rise of totalitarianism in which they reveal themselves as visionaries. Once again, Groucho’s seemingly cynical opportunism is far more humane, and ultimately moral, than the nationalistic exaltation and fanatical integrity of the militarist epic.


The construction of the hero is imposed as an ideal that reflects the best of the human being but also of a mold that today we would call “toxic masculinity”. Faced with those alpha males who lead humanity to the greatest catastrophes, the lack of pretensions, the assumption of his own weakness and cowardice, the frontal rejection of any ideology that does not admit discussion and the parody of the epic make Groucho a redeeming character that it saves men from the obligation of having to be.

“If you don’t like my principles, I have others”, says the most famous phrase of Groucho Marx (New York, 1890-Los Angeles, 1977), turning the schlemiel in artwork. He defined himself as a “mangy lover” in his memoir and said that “he would never be part of a club that would accept me as a member”. Faced with the obligation not to shed a tear and always be perfect, he extolled what truly makes us human.

After goose soupanother masterpiece already mentioned, A Night at the Opera, where they perfect their talent for entanglement. In A day at the races (1937) Groucho dedicates himself, once again, to teasing an old millionaire, that Margaret Dumont who fit the greatest rudeness with a wooden face. Unforgettable that last sequence, revolutionaryin which the brothers flee from the bourgeois life of the rich whites to end up singing and dancing with their African-American servants.

Apology of bohemia

Contrary to Groucho’s apparent cynicism, the brothers’ films always feature a charming young couple who symbolize the purity of life. They are always deeply romantic. There’s that young playwright from The hotel of trouble (1938), representative of a kind of artistic purity that the brothers will help by showing their good hearts. The world of money, which is satirized again and again in Dumont’s millionairess, is embodied in a theater magnate. Charged with humanism, in the face of rampant capitalism, the Marxes always oppose the importance of feelings.

Another essential film is The Marx Brothers in the West (1940), with that famous sequence of the train that cannot stop in which they shout “more wood, it’s war!”, which is part of the popular language. The Marxes revive the bohemian and anarchist myth that is part of its essence. They never have a permanent address or job, allergic to the conventions of bourgeois life. In this case, they must face a greedy railway company in its eternal conflict with the world of money.

With crazy shop (1941) culminate its stage of splendor. Once again, Groucho’s unorthodox methods are put to the service of a good cause such as the interests of a charming young opera singer. She would still shoot two more films like The Marx Brothers, One night in Casablanca (1946), in which they parody the famous White House of Bogart in his incessant destruction of the classic virile heroY canned love (1949), set in that world of entertainment that they loved so much. They never wanted to be more than comedians and in that lack of pretension, their wonderful films find absolute greatness.

Groucho Marx, the comedian who struck down toxic masculinity