By Glenn Mitchell
Titan Books, $19.95, 320 pages

Sometimes a little pedantry can be good. The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia covers the history of the five brothers famous for some of the best murdering of the English language, as well as combining the best of burlesque and the worst of vaudeville with film to create some of the most memorable moments in cinematic history. The Marx brothers were responsible for a lot of movie madness, without which movies would be a lot tamer.

The book is a little on the dry side, but that is not always a bad thing. There is a tremendous amount of detail here, but somehow the important part, the humor, is almost non-existent; although a fan can supply the punch lines, this is literally reading a description of the joke without actually providing the joke. However, that is a flaw that is easily overcome by fans of their work looking for details on the lives and labors of the Marx brothers. This book should have come with a DVD collection of the brothers’ films and clips. However, that is a minor failing of a great book looking for why a duck and some horse feathers have made such an impact on stage and screen.

Reviewed by Jamais Jochim