Billy Wilder and the Marx Brothers – A match almost made in heaven


The following is my second entry in the second annual “Billy Wilder Blogathon,” being hosted on June 22, 2015 by the blogs Outspoken and Freckled and Once Upon a Screen. Click on the banner above, and read blogs devoted to Wilder’s huge catalog of film, TV, and written work! (And click here if you’d like to read my first entry in the “Wilder Blogathon.”)


Did you know that Billy Wilder almost made an honest-to-gosh Marx Brothers movie? The film was to be titled A Day at the United Nations. And the project actually got to the point where Wilder and his partner, I.A.L. Diamond, wrote up a “treatment” for the movie, and its making was announced in the trade papers in late 1960.

Strangely, though, every source that has talked about this movie states that, because Harpo suffered a heart attack (from which he recovered) shortly after the movie’s announcement, Wilder was unable to get the movie insured. It would seem that, if any Marx Brother would have kept the movie from getting insured, it would have been Chico.

The three brothers had actually begun filming a pilot for a TV series titled “Deputy Seraph” in 1959 (clips of which you can see here on YouTube). But when doctors discovered that Chico was suffering from arteriosclerosis (which would kill him two years later) and thus could not be insured, the producers had to cancel the project. It seems strange that this issue never comes up in any discussion of the aborted Wilder movie. Are there any Marx Brothers buffs out there who know the full story?

In any case, if you’d like further details about A Day at the United Nations, you are advised to click here to visit a meticulously researched Marx Bros. website that will tell you more about this erstwhile Wilder movie.
(By the way, the “movie poster” shown above is purely my own creation. I couldn’t resist.)


9 responses to “Billy Wilder and the Marx Brothers – A match almost made in heaven

  1. I can’t cite a specific source at the moment, but in my recollection the problem was (again) insuring Chico – and not Harpo. That was what put the kibosh on this Wilder project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Billy Wilder! (Bloggers Beguile Us with Bday Bash Gifts) – Outspoken and Freckled

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s