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The Marx Brothers: Silver Screen Collection

This essential collection from Universal finally re-releases gems that have been out of print far too long. Words such as zany, madcap, and irreverent seem made exclusively for the movies featuring Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo Marx. When it comes to their first five, and most definitive, films — collected within this six-disc DVD set — we can also add subversive, anti-authoritarian, and damn near surreal. Their fast and lunatic humor ran the gamut from lowbrow slapstick and punning to sophisticated verbal and visual horseplay. The pinkies-out wits of the Algonquin Round Table embraced them as their own. So did the average joes in Hoboken and Kansas City, who identified with the "immigrant" humor or the relentless mockery of authority figures and social propriety. Here are the films that the Marx Brothers made for Paramount between 1929 and 1933: The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and one of the funniest movies ever made, Duck Soup. The Silver Screen Collection improves, if usually only slightly, on the out-of-print Image editions, with better transfers that diminish the flaws and bad contrast of earlier home video versions. The sound's better too in DD 2.0 monaural. The only extras are on the sixth disc, 16 minutes worth of vintage clips with Harpo, Groucho, and Harpo's son William from TV's Today Show. Six-disc fold-out digipak.
—Mark Bourne

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