The Woman in the Marx Brothers’ Movies

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Part of the fun of Marx Brothers’ films is Groucho’s sarcastic ribbing with a rich dowager figure, a joke-filled interaction that reappears in seven films, including the classics Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the Races.  The actress was Margaret Dumont, sometimes called the fifth Marx Brother.  Born in 1882, she was in her fifties when she played these famous roles.

In all the films, Dumont was the straight woman for Groucho’s jokes, many of which had to do with her size.  Here is one exchange from Duck Soup (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Dumont: I’ve sponsored your appointment because I feel you are the most able statesman in all Freedonia.

Groucho: Well, that covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself! You’d better beat it; I hear they’re going to tear you down and put up an office building where you’re standing!

To facilitate the jokes, Dumont dressed to emphasize her size, sporting tight and often shiny dresses clothes that made her look larger than she was.   The bigger she appeared, the more fun Groucho had knocking her down.

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4 Responses to The Woman in the Marx Brothers’ Movies

  1. eimear says:

    they worked very well together, there was another quip about flying (cant fully remember it) – she really made duck soup funnier – as her performance was so solid

  2. Carla says:

    LOVE Margaret Dumont! Such dignity and posture — Elegance itself! Thanks for the great link! So much I didn’t know about her.

  3. Reader says:

    Hello, I Must Be Going from Animal Crackers

    Compilation of Marx/Dupont Scenes

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