GROUCHO MARX, PRIVATE EYE by Ron Goulart

GROUCHO MARX, PRIVATE EYE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

His heartless producers have renamed Groucho Marx’s radio show, dug him up a new sponsor—Mullens Pudding, which brags about coming in five flavorful flavors—and stuck him with a horrid supporting actress, Polly Pilgrim, who plays his daughter on the air and his scourge everywhere else. Sadly, Polly’s cyanide repartee is swiftly humbled when her actress mother Frances London is picked up for killing her recent beau, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Russell Benninger. Will Groucho and his scriptwriter, ex-crime reporter Frank Denby, buck some threatening local mobsters and the equally corrupt Bayside cops and get Frances out of jail? Can a duck walk? In no time at all, Groucho and Frank establish that Benninger was up to his roving eyes in drugs, that he’d run afoul of some pretty tough characters, and that Groucho is perfectly capable of wising off even at gunpoint. (Frank’s girlfriend, cartoonist Jane Danner, is just as witty, and Mullens Maiden Victoria St. John’s ramblings add a touch of Dada to the proceedings.) As in Groucho Marx, Master Detective (1998), though, the tired, busy plot seems to have come from a bunch of lower-paid writers than the ones who wrote the dialogue, and Goulart’s constant habit of splitting up Groucho and his alleged amanuensis seems like a lazy way to get around the problems of first-person narration. Still, it’s refreshing to spend another couple of hours in 1938 Hollywood, where the Third Reich is a distant rumble and the most minor characters, from whores to countermen, identify themselves as actors.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19895-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999




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