Arguably the most renowned comedians to emerge in show business came from the ranks of vaudeville were the performers who continually pushed and pushed the collective funny bones of their audiences, the laughter became literally contagious. There are so many familiar names to emerge from the times like The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, Lucille ball, WC fields, Buster Keaton, and The Marx brothers. What’s shocking is how little of their actual stories are dramatized to see the people behind the comedy at work. So, for the sake of assumptions, let’s see why we need at least one Groucho Marx biopic and why actor-comedian Sacha Baron Cohen would be perfect for him. First, let’s take a look at what has already been done with the aforementioned talents.
Groucho Marx: True Biopic or Original Performance
For the Three Stooges, there was a TV movie made in 2000 by Mel Gibson and a theatrical evocation of the trio of the Farrellys with Sean hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will sasso in the roles of Larry Good, Moe, and Howard curly in the movie 2012 The Three Stooges. When the film was initially released, there were questions about how the film would play out, as these are three completely different actors playing the roles of the actual trio, who played a fictional version of themselves in an original story. Confused? Hayes, Diamantopoulos, and Sasso have referred to Larry, Moe, and Curly as actors playing other actors who play fictional versions of themselves. The Farrelly brothers and 20th Century Studios took to the trio to make impressions of the Stooges in an original non-biographical film.
Even if there was an interest in creating new original content with beloved characters, it might be best to stick with the animation. After all, Warner Bros. decided to reboot Looney Tunes without the original cast and creative minds that made the franchise as popular as it had been for decades. The history of the actors Stan laurier and Olivier Hardy was recently the subject of a biopic with Steve coogan and John C. Reilly playing the duo, respectively, in Stan and Ollie in 2018. With any biopic, certain creative freedoms are often added or changed to create dramatic tension. While Stan and Ollie was designed more to be a pure biopic, the film was a critical success, and its limited release more than doubled its budget.
Ball was one of the funniest actresses of all time, best known for her televised work on her various sitcoms, including I love lucy with husband, Desi Arnaz. Her story is not only interesting for her long career in Hollywood, empowering women in the industry like never before, but her role as a co-owner of Desilu with Arnaz has also made her a creative force with which he must be reckoned with. Without a Ball, there is NO Star Trek. Ball’s biopic is set to be dramatized in the movie Aaron Sorkin with Catherine Blanchet attached to the star… from 2015. There has been no news since the working title Lucy and Desi. There was a WC fields biopic which focuses on the last 14 years of the life of the comedian called WC fields and me (1976) with Rob steiger in the title role. The film was not released for home video due to Fields’ grandson and his status as a California judge. For Keaton, the closest to a biopic is the 2018 documentary The Grand Buster, which chronicled the actor’s success through the silent era.
Why is it time for Cohen to play Groucho? From Marx’s perspective, you rarely find another actor who thinks so quickly on his feet. I can only imagine what the actor-comedian faced in both world wars, feeling compelled to carry his brothers in their films. We can also argue Ryan reynolds to play Groucho, but if you do a side-by-side comparison, it’s hard to deny the resemblance. If it’s not Cohen, then who would you suggest? Who would you suggest to play his brothers?