What’s Happening at the Library: The Marx Brothers and Dr. Fell

Published 10:19 am Monday, July 15, 2019

By John Maruskin

Clark County Public Library

Remember Michael Anthony?  Actor Marvin Miller portrayed Anthony in the 1955-60 television series called “The Millionaire.”

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Every week, Anthony delivered a check for $1 million (tax free) to some unsuspecting citizen. The checks were from anonymous (the viewing audience saw only his arm) philanthropist, John Beresford Tipton.

For 59 years, I thought his name was John Bears Ver Tipton.  I realized my error when I checked the spelling of his name on Wikipedia.   You really can learn something new every day at the Clark County Public Library.

Apart from that realization, what’s my point?

My point is: unless you have a an appointment with Michael Anthony this coming Tuesday night, July 16, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., come to the Library to watch the second Ron Kibbey Comedy Classic of the summer “Duck Soup,” a near-surreal spectacular starring all four Marx Brothers, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo.

When the tiny nation of Freedonia goes bankrupt, its wealthy benefactor, Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) insists that wacky Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) become president. Sensing a weakness in leadership, the bordering nation of Sylvania sends in spies Pinky (Harpo) and Chicolini (Chico) to set the stage for a revolution. As Firefly clashes with the Sylvanian ambassador, mayhem ensues and the countries verge on all-out war.

“Duck Soup” is recognized as one of the greatest comedy films of all times and many contemporary film writers consider it to be the best of the Marx Brothers films.  Two reasons why are the mirror scene in which Groucho and Harpo do a perfectly synchronized series of stupendously wacky gyrations and Groucho’s costume changes during the final scenes.  Those costumes changes may well have been the first selective attention test.  I remember how startled I was when I finally realized what was going on.

Kibbey will introduce the film and stick around to talk about it afterward.

If classic comedy makes you sing “Hail Freedonia,” come to the Library Tuesday night for the film American literary critic Harold Bloom considers “one of the greatest works of American art produced in the 20th century.”  And if Harold believes it, you can take it to the bank.

On Thursday, Book Lunch discusses a doozy from the Golden Age of Mysteries, “The Mad Hatter Mystery” by John Dickson Carr.  The mystery revolves around “a nightmare of hats,” a priceless Edgar Allen Poe manuscript and the corpse of newspaper man Philip Driscoll found at the bottom of a stairwell in the Tower of London.

Carr was best known for his locked room and Dr. Gideon Fell mysteries. Mad Hatter is the latter.  Carr modeled Fell after one of his closest friends, another Golden Age mystery writer, G. K. Chesterton.  Their friendship was predicated on diametrical opinions about politics and religion, Carr being Presbyterian and conservative, Chesterton, Catholic and distributist.

If you like classic, atmospheric, embrangled (meaning just what it sounds like) whodunits, come to Book Lunch to discuss The Mad Hatter Mystery.  Copies available at the circulation desk.

Other programs next week?

— Monday at 2 p.m., Chair Yoga.  The class is taught by Kathy Howard, a certified yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance.  $5 charge per class.

— Wednesday at 2 p.m., Kentucky Picture Show. A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college. Rated PG.

— Wednesday at 7 p.m., Trivia at the Engine House Pizza Pub, at which reference librarian, Jeff Gurnee asks questions that make the correct spelling of 50’s TV characters a cinch.

— Thursday at 9:15 a.m., Gentle Yoga. The class is taught by Kathy Howard, a certified yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance.  $5 charge per class.

— Friday at 10 a.m., Write Local.  Vacation Biblio School.

And by the way,  John Dickson Carr’s character Dr. Gideon Fell, takes his name from this 1680  rhyme by English poet, Tom Brown:  I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,/ The reason why – I cannot tell;/ But this I know, and know full well,/ I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

Why?  Look it up. There’s always something new to learn at the Library.

John Maruskin is director of adult services at the Clark County Public Library. He can be reached at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com.