+++Incidentally, I have it on very good authority that in the Marx Brother’s movies, while you are watching Harpo play the harp, you are hearing Gail Laughton. If you watch carefully, it’s perfectly obvious that what Harpo is playing is not at all what you are hearing.+++
Definitely incorrect. As a Marx Brothers fan who has all of their movies on VHS and starting on DVD now, and knowing a bit of Harpo’s history, I can tell you without any doubt that what you are hearing is Harpo play.
Now I am sure that they recorded the sound track later, but it is Harpo. If you listen to his records you can hear his unique style clearly in the playing in the movie.
As for not seeing what you are hearing… What movie is that? I have watched the Harpo playing scenes in most of the movies over and over, and it is clear he is playing what is being heard. In fact in some cases when we know he isn’t really playing a harp it is so close as to be amazing.
For instance in one scene he is playing an Indian Loom, and another he smashes a piano and takes out the frame and starts playing the strings.
Of course he is not playing a loom or a piano frame, but he fakes it perfectly so that what his hands are doing is perfectly matching the music.
When he is really on a harp it is beyond a doubt clear that it is him playing.
Besides, why would he not play it? There is no doubt he really did play, and rather well. He knew Mildred Dilling and many other musicians who knew him and respected him as a musician. He has at least two records still available that were produced by his son.
He once intentionally drove Rachmaninov slightly over the edge when he lived next door to him by playing one of his pices over and over for hours at a time (he was anoyed that Rachmaninov was playing the piano too loud for him to practice the harp, and he had been living there in The Garden Of Allah near Palm Springs longer).
No. That really is Harpo playing in the movies, and it is Harpo you hear on the sound tracks. What ever authority said it was not is blowing smoke. All you have to do is watch the movies to know that if it isn’t him it may as well be, because his playing is perfectly in sync with the music, and the music is in his unique style of playing. I doubt any producer would hire someone to try so hard to imitate Harpo’s playing style so closely rather than just have Harpo play it.