Did you remember The Ritz Brothers? Perhaps not, but a refresher might be worthwhile. That’s what today’s our Quiz is about.
As you can tell from the above photo, The Ritz boys did not constitute an especially cerebral act. Funny faces, athletic jumps, ethnic cracks and all manner of madcap nonsense prevailed. In the movies, they were often a “specialty” act inserted to leaven otherwise “serious” artistic proceedings.
So it may surprise you to learn that The Ritz Brothers have achieved over time a certain reverence among more contemporary comedians and even movie critics. For example the Ritz boys’ general comedic style was strong influence on the work of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar and Danny Kaye, and for years Mel Brooks has sung their praises.
The New Yorker magazine’s ‘The Clipping’s File’ by Richard Brody extolled the Brothers’ teamwork and timing (which) have an acrobatic virtuosity. Harry Ritz is singled out for his performing fury: he gives the impression of punishing himself with comic exertion.
Brody discloses that the late critic Pauline Kael told me that she preferred the Ritz Brothers to the Marx Brothers, and favorably compared Harry Ritz to Marcel Marceau. (So, there!)
Now on the answers to our Quiz. Here we go:
1) Question: Which one of these Fox stars was unlikely to costar with The Ritz Brothers in any movie? a) Alice Faye; b) Sonja Henie; c) Don Ameche; or d) Tyrone Power.
1) Answer: This one is easy, d) Tyrone Power. The Ritz Brothers started their film career in 1936 in Sing, Baby Sing starring Alice Fay. With Henie, they made One In A Million. With Ameche, they made 1939’s The Three Musketeers.
2) Question: How did the Joachim brothers become The Ritz Brothers? a) Zanuck came up with the name to anglicize the act; b) the boys themselves saw the marquee name on the side of a laundry truck and decided to adopt it; c) a vaudeville manager came up with the monicker to add “class” to the act; d) none of the above.
2) Answer: Legend, probably accurate, has it that the Joachim boys took the name Ritz off a passing laundry truck at the suggestion of their manager. So it’s (b) and the first half of (c).
3) Question: The Ritz Brothers, especially was cited as a professional inspiration for which of the following? a) Jerry Lewis; b) Mel Brooks; c) Sid Caesar; or d)Danny Kaye.
3) Answer: As noted in our intro, all of the above.
4) Question: Movie critics, who had largely dismissed Ritz Brothers movies, are positively re-evaluating the boys’ films. a) True; or b) False.
4) Answer: Also as noted above, (a) is the right answer.
5) Question: If you click on YouTube to a 1937 clip from On The Avenue, you’ll see the Ritz Brothers in a parody of which one of the following? a) Alice Faye; b) Madeleine Carroll; c) Alan Mobray; or d) Dick Powell.
5) Answer: Alice Faye.