Groucho Marx

Gleefully Groucho

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Raven Records, based in Australia, presents a welcome sequel to Gratuitously Groucho and Gregariously Groucho, for a subtotal of three CDs' worth of vintage radio broadcasts starring Groucho Marx. These airchecks were made during the golden age of comedic, scripted entertainment performed in front of live studio audiences. Fortunately, most of the giddy laughter is genuine, as the scriptwriters were clever and Groucho was cast among capable performers. "The Marx's Curse" is a fantasy depicting Groucho the horrid husband; paired with Vera Vague (Barbara Jo Allen), he is given the opportunity to pronounce marvelously morbid sentences like "Let's have dinner and then I'll set fire to the house." As far as the scriptwriters of the 1940s were concerned, Groucho was endlessly on the make for Tallulah Bankhead. This made for delightful, erotically implied exchanges, both written and improvised. The longest segment -- more than 20 minutes -- is devoted to the promotion of Plebo, a nonexistent sponsor. Guests who appear with Groucho and Tallulah on behalf of Plebo are Meredith Willson, Gordon MacRae, Joan Davis, the Andrews Sisters, Jerry Lewis, and Dean Martin. Groucho's versatility is also demonstrated in the company of Dinah Shore, Harry Von Zell, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Benny, Rochester, Al Jolson, and Orson Welles, who reads outrageously funny tidbits from an imaginary almanac.

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