Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made

Frank, Josh & Manuela Pertega (illus.). Quirk. Mar. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9781594749230. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781594749247. Rated: T+. FiLM/SATIRE
In the late 1930s, a mutual admiration between surrealist painter Salvador Dali and Harpo Marx led to Dali's developing a treatment for a Marx Brothers movie that the two unsuccessfully pitched to MGM Studios. After the idea was rejected, the project was considered lost, aside from a collection of notes and sketches in Dali's papers. Drawing on those primary sources and years of research, author Frank (The Good Inn: A Novel) and comedian Heidecker have assembled a look at what might have been. The story follows Jimmy, a Spanish aristocrat living in exile, as he becomes infatuated with a mysterious figure known as the Woman Surreal and finds himself in a world gone mad with bizarre imagery and Groucho's quips in equal measure. Artist Pertega excels at portraying dreamlike illustrations but falters when tasked with expressing more mundane sequences of humans conversing, robbing many of the Marx Brothers-centric scenes of any energy.
VERDICT A fascinating project inspired by obvious passion from everyone involved, but subpar illustration ultimately results in a volume that will, owing to a few text pieces describing the origins of the project and reprints of Dali's initial treatment and notes, appeal primarily to die-hard fans alone.

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