- Acceptable Targets
- A little person is mocked and threatened in At the Circus. It works because it makes Groucho seem cowardly and weak instead of cruel.
- The upper classes were the butt of a lot of the crueler humor. Of course, a lot of that comes from the Depression Era roots of the act; The Three Stooges and other comedy troupes of the time did the same. And it's not like they were shy about delivering a comeuppance to anyone else.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Groucho really mentally insane or is he Obfuscating Insanity? This also applies to Chico and Harpo, to an extent.
- Broken Base:
- One of the the most hotly debated topics among fans is whether or not Harpo sang in the "Sweet Adeline" bit at the opening of Monkey Business.
- There are also the argument between whether or not their MGM films were any good or if they simply didn't make any good movies after leaving Paramount.
- Crosses the Line Twice: A real life example. When the brothers were first introduced to their future straight-woman Margret Dumont at a dinner party, Chico (notorious not only for his womanizing but for being rather crude at that) was warned not to make any obscene comments to her. When Miss Dumont entered, Chico walked over to her and said, as politely as possible, "Y'know, I'd really like to fuck you." Her response? "And tonight, dear boy, you shall."
- Covered Up: A rare non-song example: A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races are better known as Queen albums than as Marx Brothers movies.
- Fandom Rivalry: Often with the fans of The Three Stooges.
- Once Acceptable Targets
- Chico's portrayal of an Italian immigrant, Harpo's original "Irish bruiser" character from his vaudeville days, etc. Hey, it was the '30s!
- There's the scene in The Big Store where they have black actors literally picking their cotton in-store.
- In the Marx's defense they were often Fair for Its Day, often going out of their way to hire black performers and risk having their films blacklisted in the South. A Day At the Races has, for no particular reason, a large-scale production number with about fifty Afro-American performers led by the amazing Ivy Anderson.
- Stuck in Their Shadow: Groucho and Harpo have always been the most prominent names in the group. If you're lucky some people may remember Chico's name too. The one that everyone forgets is Zeppo (though, granted he only appeared in their movies until Duck Soup (1933) and was usually the straight member, thus less memorable.)
- During their Vaudeville years in the 1910's, Gummo left the group and enlisted in World War I, but he never saw any action because the armistice was signed shortly afterwards. Afterwards, he operated a theatrical agency and worked in the Hollywood agent business.
- Vanilla Protagonist: Zeppo was invariably overshadowed by his much hammier brothers. Without him, they wouldn't look so hammy by contrast.
YMMV / Marx Brothers