Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Had a dream the other night. It was in the form of a black-and white motion picture.

The opening shot is from on high, looking down on a massive athletic stadium, where a soccer game is in progress. As the camera zooms in, a player is in the clear, dribbling down the right side of the field and into the penalty area. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an opposition player comes careening into him, laying him flat out. The camera pans from the face of the stricken player to the face of the offender—it’s Chico Marx.

The referee rushes over to Chico with a card in his hand (it can only be red, of course). As he waves it in Chico’s face, another hand swoops in, and grabs it away. Harpo (who else?) then puts the card in his mouth and eats it. The referee now has four things to see to—the sending off of Chico, the condition of the injured player, the setting up of the penalty kick, and dealing with Harpo’s lèse-majesté. 

After setting the ball on the penalty spot, the referee walks over to Harpo, who, when the referee puts his hand in his pocket, also puts his hand in it. The referee then struggles to get his hand out to issue Harpo a card, but when he does so, the force of both hands coming out together unleashes a spray of cards, which land all over the turf. Harpo, seeing that, with one of his great grins on his face, pulls out a deck of cards from his shorts and starts playing war. Since Harpo’s deck is, naturally, all aces, he takes trick after trick, honking his horn, gloriously happy. 

Meanwhile, with the referee trying to deal with both Harpo and the moaning player, Chico surreptitiously nudges the ball away from the penalty spot. When the referee glances over, he sees the ball wrongly placed and goes over to replace the ball. This repeats itself several times, until the referee takes the bull by the horns and sternly orders both Chico and Harpo off the field. Harpo, looking abject with his lower lip drooping, approaches the referee with his hand out in full apology mode. The referee responds, and after the handshake, Harpo walks away to stand inside the right post of the goal, joining Chico, who is standing inside the left goal post. 

We see this from the perspective of the player who is to take the penalty kick. He (and we) sees Harpo and Chico inside the goal and in the middle Groucho, wearing his tailcoat and old-fashioned American football pants, with his mustache and eyebrows painted thickly on (as in the early films). He is smoking a large cigar. The camera cuts to Harpo, who blows the referee’s whistle (remember the handshake). 

Play thus resumes. From a camera angle behind the penalty taker, we see both his run up to the ball and the three Marxes in the goal mouth—each now clad in a baseball catcher’s chest protector and mask, with a catcher’s mitt on his left hand. 

The camera angle now changes, and from the goal mouth we watch the completion of the penalty taker’s run, the swing of his leg, and the contact with the water balloon, which a long time ago Chico had substituted for the soccer ball.

With water spray filling the screen, the credits begin to roll.

(Anybody know Steven Spielberg’s phone number?) 

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