Marx Brothers Swordfish

Swordfish Groucho Chico

So, Whyaswordfish?  Why-a-no chicken?

I noted my delight in the Marx Brothers in my previous post.  One of my most favorite scenes in all their movies is the Swordfish password scene in “Horse Feathers“.  This movie takes place during the time of Prohibition in the United States.  It was a time when, by Constitutional Amendment #18, ratified on January 16, 1919, alcoholic beverages were illegal.  The 21st Amendment to the US Constitution repealed this national law on December 5, 1933.  The scene from Horse Feathers in the video noted below is about knowing the password needed to enter an illegal establishment which sold liquor.  This was called a Speakeasy.  People found various ways to buy and consume alcohol during this time.  The laws were often flaunted.  Many people made a lot of money by providing these illegal beverages to thirsty customers.

At a recent tour of the Miller Coors Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I learned about how alcoholic beverage companies survived prohibition with legal alternatives.  Here is a quote from a company history site regarding what the Miller Brewing Company did:  “By 1919 production had increased to 500,000 barrels, but it was halted shortly thereafter by the enactment of Prohibition. The company managed to survive by producing cereal beverages, soft drinks, and malt-related products.”

Back to the Marx Brothers:  In pure Marx Brothers silliness Groucho and Chico engage in banter regarding the secret password. Chico is the security guard at the moment.  He is under strict orders to keep the password secret. The password is Swordfish, and Chico ends up not being very adept at keeping it secret.  As the scene goes on our friend Harpo shows up and has his own way of telling that he knows the password.


Click this link to watch the video from this hilarious movie.