HELLO, I MUST BE GOING"": Groucho and His Friends by Charlotte Chandler

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING"": Groucho and His Friends

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Would Groucho, who appreciated real books and even wrote a few, be flattered by this greasy memorial--a tape-recorder book? The ""author,"" who apparently won octogenarian Groucho's trust while interviewing him for Playboy, seems to have loaded up with cassettes and followed him around during those last years, bombarding him--and anyone else in sight--with questions. The result is a formless, sloggy, repetitive, and only occasionally revealing conversation stew, concentrating on Groucho's sex life, marriages, religion (""innately but not blatantly Jewish""), semi-platonic relationship with final companion Erin Fleming (""she brought future into his life""), and his increasing decrepitude--as well as rehashes of familiar Marx Brothers history. Perhaps it's just as well, however, that Chandler, for the most part, merely records the rambling words of such Grouchophiles as Marvin Hamlisch (""It was fantastic!""), Marvin Hamlisch's father, brothers Gummo and Zeppo (""the only fun I got out of it was the chorus girls. And laying all of them. . .""), Benny, Burns, Jack Nicholson, Mike Nichols, etc., etc. Her own random attempts at perception (""World War II was a rude shock to Groucho"") are leaden, and she is so firmly in the Erin Fleming camp (vs. son Arthur Marx) that objectivity is out of the question. Only Groucho's conversation with Woody Allen is truly funny (G: ""Now it's 1974 and I'm still alive."" / W: ""How do we know that?"") and also shows the comic genius talking about comedy craft. Otherwise, except for the night Groucho sold out Carnegie Hall and his 85th birthday party, an old man forced to talk and talk and be seen at his worst. And, for $14.95, you can see him at his best--Duck Soup, say--five or six times.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1978
ISBN: 1416544224
Publisher: Doubleday