Cast: The Marx Brothers,Marget Dumont
Writers: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby
Director: Leo McCarey
Watching “Duck Soup” is like watching “Airplane” if it was directed by Woody Allen. There are a lot of great visual sight gags mixed in with a lot of clever one liners. It’s very easy to see how both Woody Allen, David Zucker, Jim Abrahms and even Mel Brooks were influenced by this movie Even though it was released in the early thirties and some of the jokes are not that relevant today. I still found that most of them worked during it’s running time.
In the small country of Freedonia. Rufus T Firefly(Groucho Marx) has been appointed leader by the wealthy Mrs. Teasedale(Margaret Dumont) so that she will continue to provide them with financial support. Their neighboring country of Sylvania wants to take over the country and their Ambassador sends two spies Chicolini(Chico Marx) and Pinky(Harpo Marx) to get some dirt on the new leader. The plot becomes more and more absurd as the movie goes on,but if you were expecting any sort of logic. You will be sadly mistaken. This is one of those movies where your brain needs to be left back at home.
A lot of the one liners that Groucho says are good and you can clearly see how Woody Allen was heavily influenced by him. So much that I swear I heard the exact same lines used in one of his movies. The sight gags done by Harpo helped paved the way for slapstick comedies of the future. The way it defies the laws of physics is something I’m sure Mel Brooks was taking notes on it before he made “Blazing Saddles“. This is a lesson in comedic film history and I’m glad I watched it for that reason. But this isn’t something I would enjoy watching again.
For a movie that is just over and hour in length. I found myself from time to time checking how much of it was left. The plot seems to drag on right after Firefly mistakenly appoints the spy Chicolini as his secretary of war. It wasn’t the acting so much, but at that point the jokes were repeating themselves and I did not care for any of the characters either. I knew that they were all buffoons and that was the point of the joke, but Mr.Firefly’s misunderstandings about the Prime Minister goes from being funny to downright annoying real fast. If I was in Sylvania. I would have bombed Freedonia just for having them elect an idiot as their president. Also there is a scene where both Chicolini and Pinky pester a guy that goes on way too long.
I am not too familiar with the Marx Brothers, but this did make me want to go and seek out their other movies. I head that “A Night at the Opera” was among one of their best, and so I am looking forward to checking that one out. If you have any other Marx Brothers movies or other classic comedies you think I should watch. Please leave a comment below. I now leave you with the iconic mirror scene from the movie.
I grew up watching this with my Dad. He’s a huge Marx brothers fan. That mirror scene is one of my all time favorite comedic moments. And this line is classic: “And remember, while you’re out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we’ll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.” Glad you liked it, even if you don’t find it quite as rewatchable as I do.
Thank you Jess. The movie does have a lot of good one liners and yes that mirror scene is a classic. I need to watch other Marx Brothers comedies. Got any suggestions?
Actually, Duck Soup is as far as I’ve gone into their filmography but I’ve heard all their stuff pre-Duck Soup is the way to go.