Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Deputy Seraph (1959)
I had mentioned in my previous blog Love Happy is officially the Marx Brothers last film together. Although, they had appeared in a film titled The Story of Mankind in 1957, the Brothers did not actually appear together in the film.
In 1959, producer decided to try and make a pilot for a new television series starring the Marx Brothers titled Deputy Seraph. Encouraged by the audience reaction to the Brothers briefly appearing together at the end of an episode on General Electric Theater which featured Chico and Harpo titled The Great Jewel Robbery producers proposed a weekly series which would star Harpo and Chico as a pair of guardian angels who would possess people for a short time in order to help them with their problems.
The title itself reflecting the Western shows that were popular on TV at the time.
Groucho was cast as Deputy Seraph who would appear in every third show to help Harpo and Chico out of some pandemonium they created.
The clips below are only fragments of what was filmed of the pilot. When doctors discovered that Chico was suffering from arteriosclerosis (which would kill him two years later) and thus could not be insured, the producers had to cancel the project.
So this is why you hear the brothers answering to nobody or scenes seem fragmented. You're really watching outtakes rather than a full television episode.
I found it somewhat sad to watch seeing that Chico was so sick at the time and forgetting or unable to deliver any of his lines. For someone like me who prefers to remember the Marx's as they were in Monkey Business or Duck Soup, it might be better of the series never aired.
I am glad that Groucho never fell into the trap the Stooges did by continuing with Joe Besser or Curley Joe. Even if he recruited Zeppo or Gummo to fill in for Chico and Harpo after they passed on it wouldn't have the same dynamics as Groucho, Harpo and Chico.
Although, we are all familiar with Zeppo's persona. Which apparently both Groucho ha stated that Zeppo never got a fair shake by producers. To be honest, I'm not sure what kind of personality Gummo possessed when he was with the Brothers on stage.
To be warned, the picture quality and sound is a bit rough. But for Marx fans, it is interesting to watch from a historical point of view.