Today is the birthday of the much beloved Eve Arden (1908-1990). We’ve written a little about some of her notable projects such as Our Miss Brooks and The Mothers in Law. Today, since we are on the eve (ha! Get it? Eve?!) of Marxfest, I thought it appropriate to give a shout-out to her role in the 1939 Marx Brothers comedy At the Circus.
The film is one of the team’s weaker vehicles (though there are a good half dozen even weaker than this one) so Arden is a welcome presence. She plays one of the villains of the piece, a daredevil acrobat named Peerless Pauline. Groucho attempts to romance her in order to retrieve some stolen loot so he can save Kenny Baker’s circus, but Pauline lures him into following her onto the ceiling in suction cup shoes. Kinky! And she leaves him dangling there, helpless and screaming. This is why fans don’t dig the late Marx brothers pictures. Groucho should never be seen as helpless or at anyone’s mercy. EVER. On the plus side, Eve Arden was actually kind of foxy at age 28. Look at those stems. Who knew?
For more on slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.