Rob Zombie has found his next project, and it is not a horror film but instead a look at the twilight years of one of the silver screen’s greatest comics.
The rocker-turned-director has acquired the film rights to Steve Stoliar’s memoir Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House and has attached himself to direct. Oren Moverman, whose Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy is currently in theaters, is set to write the screenplay.
Since Raised Eyebrows is one of the few books on Groucho I haven’t read, I’ll let Deadline, who broke the story, describe the book for me –
The book tells the bizarre story of the last years in the life of Groucho Marx, told by a young Marx Brothers fan who spent those years as his personal secretary and archivist. In addition to getting to know his hero, the author found himself in the orbit of Groucho’s brothers Zeppo and Gummo, Mae West, George Burns, Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, S.J. Perelman, Steve Allen, and scores of other luminaries of stage, screen, TV and literature. The downside of this dream-come-true was getting close to his idol as the curtain was coming down, and dealing with Erin Fleming – the mercurial woman in charge of Groucho’s personal and professional life.
Deadline quotes Zombie as saying that he has always been a big Marx Brothers fan, and if you have seen Zombie’s 2003 slasher House Of 1000 Corpses, you know that the names of several of the characters in that film are sly allusions to various characters Groucho has played in his classic comedies. Additionally Zombie stated –
[A]fter reading the book Raised Eyebrows, a totally new perspective on Groucho’s life emerged. I immediately saw this project as Groucho’s Sunset Boulevard and knew I had to bring it to the big screen. It is a sad, funny and very dark tale of a one of Hollywood’s greatest stars final years.
OK, bonus points to Zombie for referencing Sunset Boulevard, though I dare say that it was Fleming who may have been the domineering figure in this story, not Groucho.
Now I know that Zombie’s filmography does make him sound as a rather odd choice fort his film. But, after he finishes his current in production film, 31 in which five people are kidnapped on Halloween, he will begin work on Broad Street Bullies, a story which Deadline describes as being about “the Philadelphia Flyers hockey teams that brawled their way to prominence.” Does this necessarily give support to Zombie’s ability to deliver a worthwhile Raised Eyebrows? Maybe, maybe not. But I will be watching Broad Street Bullies when it comes out with much more interest now.