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The Calculus Affair: The Secret Word is “Groucho”…?

#1 · Posted: 3 Dec 2011 19:35
I was reading Calculus Affair (again), and noticed something, which I thought had been talked about before, but which a forum search couldn’t trace…

When Tintin & Cº are checking into the Hotel Zsnôrr on p.47, does anyone else think that the natty gent in the homburg hat, holding a briefcase under his arm and carrying an umbrella who is very prominently featured to the fore in frame 14, looks uncannily like Groucho Marx?

The round glasses, prominent eyebrows, heavy moustache and trademark cigar are all present and correct, and the tailored elegance is very reminiscent of the style he adopted during the fifties when he was on the TV show You Bet Your Life.

I just wonder if Hergé was a fan, or saw some mention of Groucho being in Switzerland? Or did Hergé visit the States at this time and perhaps see the quiz?

Any “Marxbrotherlogists” about who might know?
#2 · Posted: 3 Dec 2011 20:47
The guy in "Calculus Affair" strikes me as very straight, stiff and serious. If he was based on Groucho, he'd probably be given a more inane grin and jovial look.

BTW, there is another theory regarding that character.
#3 · Posted: 3 Dec 2011 22:01
I’m talking about Groucho as Groucho, not in his on-screen persona as Captain Spaulding or Otis B. Driftwood.

Largely Groucho was a serious guy - off-screen, he was very much a gent, and extremely well read and highly literate (he was friends with T.S. Elliott, for example). Although he patently had a grease-paint moustache in the early movies, by the time of his television career, he had grown one, and wore it all the time.

Having looked at the link though, and back at Mr Trickler, I’d say that Trickler looks a bit like Groucho too, even down to the centre parting, although I’d also say that the character in Calculus Affair looks slimmer and longer-faced than Trickler, but there is undoubtedly a resemblance.

Which leads to the obvious conclusion. Maybe Groucho was a part-time Trickler impersonator…?
#4 · Posted: 3 Dec 2011 23:29
I see what you mean, Jock, but I'm not quite sure that he quite resembles even the off-screen Groucho closely enough to be absolutely sure. His nose doesn't quite have the distinctive Marx brothers shape and his glasses don't look quite round enough to me. But you're right that the eyebrows, moustache and cigar all look very Groucho-like. And it would be surprising if Hergé wasn't a Marx Brothers fan. So who knows? It's a nice idea!

Peering so intently at the pages of the Calculus Affair has, as usual with that book, made me spot something else I'd not noticed before. But I'll start a new thread on that!

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