Before Groucho Marx and W.C. Fields, comedy was innocent. After they left their hilarious smudges on the genre, it was anything but. Groucho Marx the leering, wise-cracking, pseudo-intellectual (c.1890-1977) together with his brothers Chico, Harpo, Gummo, and Zeppo, first performed on Broadway in 1924 and took it by storm in The Coconuts (1925) and more memorably Animal Crackers (1928) which was filmed the following year. Moving to Hollywood with the advent of "talkies" for such classics as Monkey Business (1931), Duck Soup (1933) and A Night at the Opera (1935), Groucho developed his own hilarious brand of farce poking fun at convention and confronting audiences with a wealth of double-entendres. W.C. Fields "..never act with dogs or children!" (1879-1946) began his stage life as a juggler on the vaudeville circuit. By his early 20s he was already a top-billed star who performed alongside the renowned Ziegfield Follies on Broadway. His first film was Pool Sharks (1915) but it was his appearance in D.W. Griffith's Sally of the Sawdust (1925) which established him in Hollywood at the relatively late age of 46. This is a tribute to the pair and the art of filmflam comedy with both Groucho and Fields revealed as trail-blazers who dared depart from the paths laid down by the comedy of innocence.
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