I’m pretty sure I posted this once before but it’s so extraordinary that it never gets old. It seems that one day on the ‘Animal Crackers’ set, sometime around when they were shooting the opening (which includes ‘Captain Spaulding’ of course), a camera rolled during a rehearsal. For an all too brief twenty seconds, Groucho, Harpo, Margaret Dumont and Robert Greig were caught doing a run-through of Harpo’s intro to Dumont in color. Harpo is not yet in costume–he’s in his off-stage garb which apparently consisted of a bathrobe and slippers. His hair is au natural and Groucho, standing camera left and aware that they’re shooting, looks a bit awkwardly toward the camera to see if its okay for him to walk to his position. He does so, the introduction joke is performed and the fragment of film comes to a close. Why does this exist? Why is it in color? How did it turn up? None of these questions appear to be answerable. It’s posited by a YouTube comment that this was part of a demo test of the process that later became known as Cinecolor. The YouTuber who posted this invaluable clip (the interestingly named 20sm30sFTW–it sounds like an auto-generated password that you immediately change upon receiving it) believes it was discovered in an attic. Is there more of this footage lying around somewhere? Why do only twenty seconds exist? Or was that all they wanted for the camera test? How did the YouTube poster wind up with it? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, enjoy your short but historic visit to a soundstage at Astoria Studios in early 1930.



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