- Humor Risk
name = Humor Risk
director = Dick Smith
producer = The Marx Brothers
Al Posen Max Lippman Jo Swerling
A. H. Vallet
distributor = Caravel Comedies
released = 1921
runtime = 2 reels
country = USA
imdb_id = 0209031
"Humor Risk" (1921) was the first
Marx Brothersfilm, although it was never released, and is listed by the Internet Movie Databaseas a lost film. The print may have been accidentally thrown away when left in the screening box overnight, [http://www.amazon.com/Monkey-Business-Lives-Legends-Brothers/dp/0312252927 "Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers"] ( Hardcover), Simon Louvish. Thomas Dunne Books; 1st U.S. edition (2000).] or Groucho, unhappy with the film's quality, may have intentionally burnt the negative after a particularly bad premiere screening. (Groucho was reportedly unhappy with their 1929 film, " The Cocoanuts", however "The Cocoanuts" turned out to be a smash hit.)
The four Marx Brothers are known to have been in this short film. It was directed by comedy film director Dick Smith (1886-1937), and was the first film written by
Jo Swerling, who later co-wrote films such as " It's a Wonderful Life", "Gone with the Wind", and many others. Jobyna Ralstonwas the female lead, however, some sources say that Mildred Davis-- star and later wife of Harold Lloyd-- was also in the film.
Information about the plot of the film -- made in
Fort Lee, New Jersey-- is sparse. Its title was a spoof of the then-popular Fannie Hurstdrama " Humoresque", one of the biggest film hits of 1920. In addition, the brothers were working separately rather than as a team and did not incorporate their trademark comic personalities that they would later become famous for.
Harpo played the hero, a detective named Watson who "made his entrance in a high hat, sliding down a coal chute into the basement". Groucho played an "old movie" villain, who "sported a long moustache and was clad in black", while Chico was probably his "chuckling [Italian] henchman". Zeppo portrayed a playboy who was the owner of a nightclub in which most of the action took place, including "a cabaret, [which allowed] the inclusion of a dance number". The final shot showed Groucho "in ball and chain, trudging slowly off into the gloaming". Harpo, in a rare moment of romantic glory, gets the girl in the end.cite web |url=http://marxology.marx-brothers.org/humorisk.htm |title=Humor Risk |accessdate=2007-04-02 |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=Marxology |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]
"Humor Risk" has been also known as "Humorisk", as can be seen in both biographies and autobiographies of the Marx Brothers. The Marx Brothers finally broke into motion pictures with 1929's "
List of United States comedy films
*" [http://marxology.marx-brothers.org/intro.htm Marxology] " entry for " [http://marxology.marx-brothers.org/humorisk.htm Humor Risk] "
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