Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Weinberg Center to ring in the New Year with classic Marx Brothers films

1935 ad for the Tivoli Cinema, showcasing the
Marx Brothers film "A Night At The Opera."
(The Frederick News-Post/Randall Family LLC/
Newspaper Archive)

PROLOGUE: This was originally written as part of a group multimedia blog project in my Online Journalism class at Hood College (with two fellow “friends of the Matinee”).  Enjoy!  

Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo’s zany antics.  Margaret Dumont’s deadpan reaction to Groucho’s wisecracks.  “Hooray for Captain Spaulding.”  “Hail, Hail Freedonia.”

Fans of slapstick and classic comedy in the Frederick area may start the New Year by treating themselves to an afternoon of iconic comedy classics at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.

The theater will showcase a double dose of films featuring the Marx Brothers on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 10 at 2 p.m., as part of the Weinberg’s “Cinema Classic Series.”

The first film that will be shown in the Marx Brothers double feature event will be the 1935 film, “A Night at the Opera,” directed by Sam Wood.  This was the brothers’ first film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, alongside Margaret Dumont and Kitty Carlisle.

Vintage Tivoli memorabilia booth, inside the lobby
of the Weinberg Center for the Arts. Photo: Chris Hamby.
Then, the Weinberg will showcase the 1933 motion picture, “Duck Soup,” directed by Leo McCarey. “Duck Soup” was the brothers’ last film for Paramount Pictures, featuring Dumont and the “fourth” Marx brother, Zeppo Marx.

This would be Zeppo’s last film with his brothers, as he later pursued a successful career as a talent agent.  According to “A&E Biography,” he also worked as a successful inventor, notably helping the Allied effort during World War II on developing special clamping devices for secure transportation of atomic bombs on the “Enola Gay.”

Out of all the Marxes’ comedies, both “A Night at the Opera” and “Duck Soup” have been considered the best out of the Marxes’ film career, according to the movie guide, “VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever.”

The two films were shown at Frederick’s crown jewel theater, when it was known as the Tivoli cinema during their general release years.  Both Marx Brothers films were made by two different studios, and the theater was owned by rival studio Warner Bros. Pictures, which owned the Tivoli from the late 1920s until 1948.

Interior of the Weinberg Center (former Tivoli) stage with
movie screen.  Photo: Chris Hamby
John Healey, executive theater director of the Weinberg Center for the Arts, said that the upcoming Marx Brothers double-feature screening of “A Night at the Opera” and “Duck Soup” is important to the theater’s motion picture heritage.

“Film is a very large part of the history of the Weinberg Center,” Healey said.

Jef Cliber, box office manager of the Weinberg Center, said that he was delighted that the two Marx Brothers films would make their return to the big screen.

“It’s nice to see some of those older films make a return to us,” Cliber said.  “There was enough of a demand for us to create another niche where there are different kinds of films.”

Katherine Orloff, an assistant professor of journalism at Hood College, said that the timeless humor of the Marx Brothers would be a great way to kick off the New Year.

“What better way to start 2016 with laughter and happiness,” Orloff said. “Laughter is the best medicine.”

The cost of admission for the Marx Brothers double feature screening at the Weinberg Center is $7 for adults and $5 for children, students, senior citizens, Frederick city employees and members of the military.

Marx Brothers Double Feature Screening: “A Night at the Opera” (1935)/”Duck Soup” (1933)

Jan. 10 at 2 p.m.

Weinberg Center for the Arts

20 W. Patrick St.

Frederick, MD 21701


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