Chico Marx at the piano

This is apropos of no writing or any other business than perfect movie making. This clip of Chico Marx in A Night at the Opera has him playing the piano surrounded by children. Their mothers and other older folk are in the background. Whatever else this movie is about falls away at this moment. The Marx Bros do this in almost every movie but perhaps works the best here.

Look at the joy on the faces of those watching him. Look at the curiousity of the kids watching his fingers work. They draw around him as if it were unexpected – Chico Marx just decided to sit down and play the piano in the middle of his movie.

It’s a complete and perfect scene and Chico plays it as if it were no scene. And indeed, it isn’t a scene. He most likely never even got this close to his audience in vaudeville. It’s a true moment made by movie-making, capped by movie-making in the final close-up of kids laughing because they were told to laugh. But for a minute there, no one needed to act except Chico and even then he’s merely playing off his audience in the purest way possible. We are lucky enough to peek around the corner into this private party.

How I wish film could have this sense of abandon. We’re much too smart nowadays to have this kind of fun.