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En 1937 Salvatore Dali rencontre les Marx Brothers à Hollywood, il leur ecrit un scénario  intitulé Giraffes on Horseback salad Le film ne sera jamais réalisé, mais il en reste des esquisses, notamment  un  dessin d'un grand dîner éclairé par des girafes en feu. Il se lie  d'amitié et  peint Harpo Marx à Hollywood.


 

In 1937, Salvador Dali, a fan of The Marx Brothers, wrote for them a screenplay entitled "Giraffes on Horseback Salad." The screenplay, long since lost, never made it to production, but the idea of it did find its way to newly-formed ERS. Then in its first year as an ensemble, the company researched the lost script and watched every Marx Brothers film they could find. Marx Brothers on Horseback Salad is the result of ERS' attempt to reconstruct the screenplay and imagine the relationship between Dali and the famous veterans of vaudeville and screen. The piece featured a multi-armed Groucho, a harp strung with barbed wire and a strange silent trio of "the greatest aviators in the world." In between recreating images and scenes from Dali's script, ERS staged its imaginings of awkward domestic encounters between Harpo and his wife and Dali and his glamorous muse, Gala.

The group's second piece and its first under the ERS moniker, Marx Brothers featured some of the group's first forays into what would become its signature choreographic style.

 

In its summer 2008 exhibition “Dali and Film”, New York’s Museum of Modern Art noted that Dali’s fascination with movies is evident in many of his paintings, as well as theatrical “sets”. In the Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers” he perceived “the summit of the evolution of comic cinema”, and in Harpo Marx he found the perfect alter ego for his cinematic ambitions.

In “Giraffes” — his English-language script and preliminary drawings for which the MoMA put on display — Dali wanted Harpo to play a Spanish aristocrat named Jimmy (or the Roman Emperor Nero, says another source) who moves to America and falls for a mysterious female character. Dali described Harpo as”the one with the curly hair, whose face is that of persuasive and triumphant madness”.



Only Dali could present burning giraffes in such an elegant manner!
In 1937 Dali and Harpo Marx wrote the scenario for a movie entitled "Giraffes on Horseback Salad", in which the 3 Marx Brothers were to appear. Although the film was never made, the artist produced a series of sketches to represent scenes in the movie. 10"x14" Matted and ready to frame.


Artist Salvador Dalí visited Hollywood in 1937. With him he brought his wife Gala and an idea for a film he wished to create with the Marx Brothers. As a token of his esteem for the one with the "marvelous wig," he also brought a harp strung with barbed wire. The film, entitled Giraffes on Horseback Salads, was never made, reportedly because MGM, which had an exclusive contract with the Marx Brothers, felt it was too surreal. The script, consisting of 22 pages original blue ribbon typescript in French with handwritten ink corrections is owned by the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí in Figueres, Spain. Apart from roles for the Marx Brothers, the script includes a character called the Surrealist woman (to be played by Gala) and a Spanish businessman named Jimmy.

The Surrealist woman is lying in the middle of a great bed, sixty feet long, with the rest of the guests seated around each side. Along the bed as decorations are a group of dwarfs caught by Harpo. Each is supported on a crystal base, decorated with climbing flowers. The dwarfs stay as still as statues, holding lighted candelabras and change their positions every few minutes. While love tears at Jimmy's heart, Groucho tries to crack a nut on the bald head of the dwarf in front of him. The dwarf, far from looking surprised, smiles at Groucho in the most amiable way possible. Suddenly in the middle of dinner, thunder and lightning begin inside the room. A squall of wind blows the things over on the table and brings in a whirl of dry leaves, which stick to everything. As Groucho opens his umbrella, it begins to rain slowly. Although the guests show surprise, they try for a time to continue their meal, which is, however, brought to an end by showers of rain. In panic, the guests rush in all directions, while from the hall a torrent of waters washes in, bringing with it all sorts of debris, including a drowned ox. A shepherd makes a desperate effort to collect his flock of sheep, which climb up on the sofas and the bed in an effort to avoid being carried away by the water. A cradle is carried in on the flood containing a baby crying piteously, followed by the mother, hair streaming behind her.

The Surrealist woman crosses several rooms as the rain is falling more and more heavily but stops in front of a door and hesitates. She goes in, followed by Jimmy, who has never left her side. On the other side of the door, there is no more rain and everything changes. It is the childhood room of the Surrealist woman where by her orders nothing has been touched since she was ten. Overcome by emotions, she sits down in front of a mirror at a child's table. Meanwhile, the Marx Brothers announce that a great fête is going to take place. For this, large preparations have to be made. Four acres of desert are cleared of cacti and of all vegatation and flattened out like a tennis court. The undergrowth that is cleared away is piled around the field to make a barrier, behind which stands are erected for spectators. There is a competition for the person who can ride a bicycle the slowest with a stone balanced on his head. All the participants have to grow beards. In the middle is a tower in the form of a boat's prow to be used as a judge's box. Before the spectacle begins, the vegetation around the fields is set alight. This prevents the spectators in the stands from seeing anything at all. From the top of the tower the sight is wonderful, with columns of smoke going up vertically, surrounding hundrds of cyclists - each balancing a rock on his head - threading their way with the sun setting behind. In the tower, Harpo is playing his harp ecstatically, like a modern Nero. By his side, his back to the spectacle, Groucho is lying, smoking lazily. Nearby, the Surrealist woman and Jimmy watch the spectacle, lying side by side. Behind them, Chico, dressed in a diving suit, accompanies Harpo on the piano. Scattered across the gangway leading to the tower, an orchestra plays the theme song with Wagnerian intensity as the sun sinks under the horizon.



 

"From a previously unpublished film script by Salvador Dali, written in 1937 for the Marx Brothers. Dali, who was a fan of the comedians, had befriended Harpo Marx the year before. The film, entitled Giraffes on Horseback Salads, was never made, reportedly because MGM, which had an exclusive contract with the Marx Brothers, felt it was too surreal. The script, which Dali wrote in English, was recently discovered among Dali's papers; it is owned and was made available by the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí in Figueres, Spain. Apart from roles for the Marx Brothers, the script includes a character called the 'Surrealist woman' and a Spanish businessman named Jimmy."

The "Surrealist woman" is lying in the middle of a great bed, sixty feet long, with the rest of the guests seated around each side. Along the bed, as decorations, are a group of dwarfs caught by Harpo. Each is supported on a crystal base, decorated with climbing flowers. The dwarfs stay as still as statues, holding lighted candelabras, and change their positions every few minutes.

While love tears at Jimmy's heart, Groucho tries to crack a nut on the bald head of the dwarf in front of him. The dwarf, far from looking surprised, smiles at Groucho in the most amiable way possible. Suddenly in the middle of dinner, thunder and lightning begin inside the room. A squall of wind blows the things over on the table and brings in a whirl of dry leaves, which stick to everything. As Groucho opens his umbrella, it begins to rain slowly.

Although the guests show surprise, they try for a time to continue their meal, which is, however, brought to an end by showers of rain. In a panic, the guests rush in all directions, while from the hall a torrent of waters washes in, bringing with it all sorts of debris, including a drowned ox. A shepherd makes a desperate effort to collect his flock of sheep, which climb up on the sofas and the bed in an effort to avoid being carried away by the water. A cradle is carried in on the flood containing a baby crying piteously, followed by the mother, hair streaming behind her.

The "Surrealist woman" crosses several rooms - rain falling more and more heavily - but stops in front of a door and hesitates. She goes in, followed by Jimmy, who has never left her side. On the other side of the door, there is no more rain and everything changes. It is the childhood room of the "Surrealist woman," where by her orders nothing has been touched since she was ten. Overcome by emotion, she sits down in front of a mirror at a child's table.

Meanwhile, the Marx Brothers announce that a great fête is going to take place. For this, large preparations have to be made. Four acres of desert are cleared of cacti and of all vegatation and flattened out like a tennis court. The undergrowth that is cleared away is piled around the field to make a barrier, behind which stands are erected for spectators.

There is a competition for the person who can ride a bicycle the slowest with a stone balanced on his head. All the participants have to grow beards. In the middle is a tower in the form of a boat's prow to be used as a judge's box.

Before the spectacle begins, the vegetation around the fields is set alight. This prevents the spectators in the stands from seeing anything at all. From the top of the tower the sight is wonderful, with columns of smoke going up vertically, surrounding hundrds of cyclists - each balancing a rock on his head - threading their way with the sun setting behind.

In the tower, Harpo is playing his harp ecstatically, like a modern Nero. By his side, his back to the spectacle, Groucho is lying, smoking lazily. Nearby, the "Surrealist woman" and Jimmy watch the spectacle, lying side by side. Behind them, Chico, dressed in a diving suit, accompanies Harpo on the piano. Scattered across the gangway leading to the tower, an orchestra plays the theme song with Wagnerian intensity as the sun sinks under the horizon. (Harper's Magazine's may 1996 issue)

 


 

 


It was a match made in heaven. In 1936, the famous Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí met Harpo Marx, vaudevillian extraordinaire and one quarter of Hollywood's ruling comedy gang, the Marx Brothers.

An inspired collaboration with his compatriot, the great director Luis Buñuel, on 1929's Un chien andalou, had already served as his passport into the Surrealist group. As a new exhibition at Tate Modern reveals, Dalí would remain obsessed with film for the rest of his life. He wrote numerous scenarios for cinema that were far too wacky to get made, and worked with two of its masters, Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney.

Dalí's first encounter with Harpo Marx was at a party in Paris. They confessed a mutual admiration. Then Dalí sent Harpo a Christmas present: a harp with barbed wire for strings and spoons for tuning knobs, wrapped in cellophane. Harpo was delighted and sent Dalí a photograph of himself sitting at the harp with bandaged fingers as if he'd been playing it and cutting himself on the wire.

He told Dalí he liked his painting The Persistence of Memory (those melting clock faces) and that if he wanted to visit him in California he'd be "happy to be smeared" by him. Dalí did so the following year, claiming, implausibly, that he found Harpo, "naked, crowned with roses, and in the centre of a veritable forest of harps... He was caressing, like a new Leda, a dazzling white swan, and feeding it a statue of the Venus de Milo made of cheese..."

Clearly enchanted, Dalí made two rather beautiful drawings of the comic sitting at his harp, grinning beatifically with a lobster on his head.

Although, on the face of it, Dalí and Harpo had little in common, the friendship was apt. Dalí believed there was no difference between avant-garde art and popular culture, and nothing expressed the latter better than cinematic slapstick.

"In art there is nothing to understand, just as there is nothing to understand in a comedy film," he wrote in an essay in 1927. He particularly liked the humble, childlike qualities of comedians such as Buster Keaton, who had risen in the silent age.

Harpo, too, was essentially a silent comedian. The Marx brothers made talkies, with Groucho's prattle was at the heart of them, but Harpo - his ego once bruised by a reviewer's comment on his voice - became the brother who never spoke. His jokes instead were the age-old tricks of clowning: mugging, tripping people up, the hat-swapping caper that Beckett immortalised in Waiting for Godot some 20 years later. This gave him a double appeal to Dalí. As Matthew Gale, curator of the Tate's show, explains: "Dalí seems to have responded to the anarchic humour that Harpo represented and, I suspect, found this more direct than the witticisms of Groucho, which he would only have been aware of in translation at that stage."

It was the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers of 1930, a demented tale about a stolen painting, that Dalí declared "the summit of the evolution of comic cinema". In it Harpo shoots hats off women's heads and produces a wet fish, a flashlight and armfuls of cutlery from his trademark raincoat. He also plays the harp so sweetly that the film suddenly threatens to turn into a romance.

This was just the kind of unpredictable and inexplicable behaviour that the Surrealists cherished: behaviour "in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation", to quote the first Surrealist manifesto. Dalí even described Harpo to Surrealism's founder André Breton as one of "the three American Surrealists" (along with Walt Disney and director Cecil B DeMille).

He also, unsurprisingly, wanted to get in on the act. He suggested writing a film for the Marx Brothers, a series of scenarios for which survive. It is called Giraffes on Horseback Salad and, like most of Dalí's film ideas, is wildly absurd. Proposed scenes include a horde of burning giraffes wearing gas masks, cyclists balancing loaves on their heads and Harpo catching dwarves with a butterfly net. But Groucho told him it wasn't funny and the film was never made.

This was the fate of most of Dalí's film plans. Un chien andalou and its equally strange and brilliant follow up L'§e d'or, also a Buñuel collaboration, were the only films made in their entirety during Dalí's lifetime (the Disney collaboration, Destino, was made posthumously).

The dream sequence he devised for Alfred Hitchcock for the 1945 thriller Spellbound was severely truncated in the final cut. The others didn't even get that far: Hollywood moguls couldn't cope with Dalí's demands for a film starring a wheelbarrow, for instance, nor another idea incorporating rat-chewing children.

These rejections can be partly explained, says Gale, by a "shift in the industry, coinciding with the advent of sound, from the independence of the privately-financed collaborations with Buñuel to the demands of the large studio system. As Spellbound shows, the studios were initially attracted by the possibilities for publicity that Dalí's fame promised but became cautious about committing to his more radical ideas."

Gale also suggests that sometimes Dalí didn't care whether the films actually got made. Just as with Harpo Marx sitting naked with a cheese statue, the pleasure and point was in the fantasy. The irony is that with today's CGI, it would be no problem to create those burning giraffes on the silver screen.

             (TELEGRAPH)






I believe that this drawing done by Salvador Dali is very telling of the true spirit of Harpo Marx. When he was asked to draw pictures for an article on the Marx Brothers, Dali chose to draw Harpo. Just as I was when I chose Harpo for this dossier, Dali was drawn to something about Harpo. As all of these documents have shown, Harpo had an aura around him, one that was easily sensed. Dali sensed this and knew that, for some reason, he had to draw Harpo. I believe that in his sketch, Dali tries to show this special aura everyone finds in Harpo. There is something magical about the drawing, just as there was something magical about Harpo.
      Looking at the comparison between photo and sketch, it is easy to see how Dali interprets things. When creating a portrait, a true artist wants the viewer to see the true heart of his subject’s personality. Dali does just that, taking many steps to show the true heart of Harpo. One of the most obvious choices Dali makes is that he sketches Harpo as much younger and more childlike. This is how everyone viewed Harpo. He was a big kid, full of all of the vibrancy and spirit that one finds in a five year-old. Also, Dali wanted to draw Harpo with his harp, recognizing that playing the harp was Harpo’s true passion. Though in the photograph Harpo isn’t smiling, Dali gives Harpo a smile and a twinkle in his eye, a reflection of Harpo’s inner spirit that is always happy.Though Harpo’s clown qualities are evident in the drawing, it is because of the clown inside Harpo that they are there, not because of how Harpo acts in his shows. Salvador Dali was drawing what he saw inside of Harpo, and the clown was part of it. Harpo never pretended to be someone he wasn’t. Just because Harpo was quietly sitting and posing for Dali, doesn’t mean that his true self wasn’t there as well. Dali sensed it inside of Harpo, and was able to pull it out to put in his drawing.
      Finally, the fact that Harpo is just sitting there for Dali tells a lot about his character. Most comedic stars would probably do something zany if they were being drawn for a magazine, but Harpo never tried to be funny; he never felt the need to go for laughs. Rather, he just liked being himself, even if it meant not being funny. But the humor was always a part of Harpo’s life, and it doesn’t take a keen eye like Dali’s to see that.
(Benji Samit)




 



 



 

Figueres, le 5 octobre 2004
Le documentaire Cinema Dalí parmi les finalistes des prix Emmy
L’académie qui décerne ce prix, équivalent à l'oscar pour la télévision, est l’International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, un organisme indépendant qui regroupe les meilleures chaînes et médias d'avant-garde du monde de la communication. Les autres finalistes qui prétendent au trophée dans la catégorie Programmes artistiques de cette 32e édition sont  Amelia (Canada), Korda, fotógrafo en revolución (Mexique) et George Orwell: a life in pictures (Royaume-Uni). Outre Programmes artistiques, il y a six catégories primées : Séries dramatiques, Téléfilms et mini-séries, Documentaires, Divertissement non scénarisé, Comédie et Public jeune et enfants.

La présente édition aura lieu le 22 novembre prochain à New York et sera présentéé par le célèbre animateur britannique Graham Norton, lauréat d'un Emmy en 2001.

Le documentaire a été réalisé par Josep Rovira et coproduit par TVC, la Fondation Gala-Salvador Dalí et Article Z, avec le concours de France 5. TV3 l'a diffusé à l'occasion du centenaire de la naissance de Salvador Dalí, après une première projection au Théâtre-musée Dalí de Figueres, le 20 janvier. Il explore la contribution de Dalí au monde du cinéma, avec des productions telles que Un chien andalou, L’âge d’or, les décors du film d'Alfred Hitchcock Spellbound (La maison du docteur Edwards), les scénarios écrits en collaboration avec les Marx Brothers, le projet non réalisé de Destino avec Walt Disney, etc. Hormis la bande originale créée par Quimi Portet, ce que le documentaire propose de plus nouveau est la thèse selon laquelle Dalí serait le créateur d'un genre cinématographique inédit, qu'il réalisait, écrivait et interprétait à lui seul. Les 52 minutes du documentaire ont été tournées grâce à un long et minutieux travail de recherche auprès de grandes archives audiovisuelles du monde entier, et à l'étroite collaboration de la Fondation Dalí


 

 


 

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