Category Archives: groucho marx

The Story of Mankind

The Story of Mankind ~ I had heard about this film for the first time on the Steve Friedman Mr. Movie radio show, but had never had a chance to see it until recently on TCM.

It is the story of two angels, Ronald Colman and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, arguing over the fate of mankind. A sort of history of the world with a star-studded cast, The Story of Mankind is also known for being the last Marx Brothers film (although they appear separately), and also Colman’s final film appearance. It was also produced, directed and screenwriter by the master of disaster films, Irwin Allen.

Vincent Price is delightful as The Devil, and as narrator, but that us just the beginning of the odd and sometimes inspired casting of stars as historical figures. Peter Lorre as Nero is fun, but Hedy Lamarr is painful as Joan of Arc, and the Marx Brothers should never have shown up to this party.

The Story of Mankind is a fairly fun flick even with all its flaws. Worth seeing once, and definitely a good choice for kids if you want to sneak some education into their entertainment. Check it out.

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Quickies 1-17-2008


Skidoo ~ Nope, it’s not a water or snow vehicle. This forgotten Otto Preminger flick from 1968 is a cross between a mob comedy and a generation gap morality play. Great performances by notably Mickey Rooney and also by Groucho Marx as a germaphobic mob boss named “God.” Carol Channing is fun as an old bimbo and you have to see to believe Jackie Gleason on acid. Speaking of drugs, rumor has it Grouncho first tried marijuana on the set of this film. Also look for cameos by Otto’s (Mr. Freeze) fellow “Batman” baddies Ceasar (Joker) Romero, Burgess (Penguin) Meredith and Frank (Riddler) Gorshin.

Voice of the Whistler ~ I was surprised by this B-flick based on the old radio program “The Whistler” as it was directed by William Castle. You can see the beginnings of the man’s skills and gimmicks even here. Nice surprise.

Stay Alive ~ This was another surprise as I expected yet another mindless serial killer flick in the mode of Final Destination or Jeepers Creepers. This flick by writer/director William Brent Bell has a group of teenagers playing a game that kills you in real life when you are yoinked in the game. Much cooler than it sounds. Look for “Malcolm in the Middle” all grown up and nerdy.

Incident at Loch Ness ~ This one is the evil opposite of the above, nowhere near as cool as it sounds. It’s a mockumentary following director Werner Herzog as he tries to make a movie about the Loch Ness monster. Reality TV at its worst.