Giraffes on Horseback Salad

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Giraffes on Horseback Salad, also called The Surrealist Woman,[1] was a screenplay written in 1937[2] by Salvador Dalí for the Marx Brothers. It was to be a love story between a Spanish aristocrat named "Jimmy" (to be played by Harpo Marx, with whom Dalí was friends)[1] and a "beautiful surrealist woman, whose face is never seen by the audience".[3] Dalí considered that the central theme of the film would be "the continuous struggle between the imaginative life as depicted in the old myths and the practical and rational life of contemporary society"[4] and hoped that the film score could be written by Cole Porter.[5]

The screenplay was never produced (although Tate Modern curator Matthew Gale has suggested that Dali may have considered an actual production to be beside the point);[6] Harper's Magazine posits that this was because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Marx Brothers' studio at the time, considered it to be too surreal[7] (proposed scenes included giraffes wearing gas masks[5] on fire,[8] and Harpo Marx using a butterfly net to capture "the eighteen smallest dwarfs in the city").[4] Conversely, the Telegraph alleges that Groucho Marx felt that the screenplay just wasn't funny.[6]

For several years, Giraffes was thought to be lost. In 1991-92,[9] New York City theater collective Elevator Repair Service produced Marx Brothers on Horseback Salad, combining scenes from an attempted reconstruction of the screenplay (based partially on having "watched every Marx Brothers film they could find") with scenes of Dalí's real-life interactions with Harpo Marx and Susan Fleming.[10] In 1996, the actual screenplay was found amid Dalí's personal papers.[7]


  1. ^ a b Cinematical Visits MOMA's "Dali: Painting and Film" Exhibit, by Eric Kohn, at Moviefone; published July 2, 2008; retrieved May 29, 2014
  2. ^ Salvador Dali biography at the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation; retrieved 15 October 2012
  3. ^ Salvador Dali and the Surrealists: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities by Michael Elsohn Ross; published September 1, 2003, by Chicago Review Press (via Google Books)
  4. ^ a b The Comic World of the Marx Brothers' Movies: "anything Further Father?", by Maurice Charney; published 2007, by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (via Google Books)
  5. ^ a b The Marx Brothers as Social Critics: Satire and Comic Nihilism in Their Films, by Martin A. Gardner; published August 5, 2009, by McFarland & Company (via Google Books)
  6. ^ a b "Harpo and Dalí: A Double Act", from The Telegraph, by Serena Davies; published 29 May 2007; retrieved 15 October 2012
  7. ^ a b Giraffes on Horseback Salads, from Harper's Magazine, May 1996 (archived at
  8. ^ Half Marx for Dalí show, by Ben Walters, at the Guardian; published 5 August 2008; retrieved 29 May 2014
  9. ^ Elevator Repair Service: Timeline by Season, at Elevator Repair Service; retrieved May 29, 2014
  10. ^ Marx Brothers on Horseback Salad, at Elevator Repair Service; retrieved May 29, 2014