Reporter, columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman relates one of my favorite Marx Brothers cinematic moments in this excerpt from “The Lexus and the Olive Tree.”
In the Marx Brothers’ classic movie Duck Soup, there is a scene in which Chico and Harpo are talking to the evil, calculating European statesman Trentino, Groucho’s political rival, who has hired Chico and Harpo as spies. When Chico and Harpo come to Trentino’s office to report on the progress of their spying, his secretary walks in with a telegram. Harpo grabs it out of her hands, examines it closely and then rips it to shreds, tosses it on the floor and shakes his head. Stunned and surprised, Trentino turns to Chico with a quizzical look, as if to ask: “Why did he do that?”
And Chico answers: “He gets mad because he can’t read.”
In all likelihood, neither Friedman nor the Marx Brothers ever set foot in New Albany.
So: How can their characterization of life here be so chillingly accurate?