Saturday, January 23, 2010

75. Duck Soup (1933)

Running Time: 68 minutes
Directed By: Leo McCarey
Written By: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby
Main Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern


"Groucho Marx was the best comedian this country ever produced. [...] He is simply unique in the same way that Picasso or Stravinsky are." —Woody Allen

As soon as I finished watching "Duck Soup", I immediately found myself on looking at Marx Brothers collections. That should tell you something of how much I enjoyed it and how much I especially enjoyed watching Groucho Marx on the sceen.

Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly, who has just been appointed leader of the small nation of Freedonia, on the insistence of Mrs. Teasdale. After much fanfare, Groucho finally makes his big debut as the new leader and immediately starts in with some classic one-liners, mainly insulting Mrs. Teasdale. Meanwhile, as Rufus is adjusting as the new leader, Ambassador Trentino of the neighboring country of Sylvania is plotting to take over Freedonia and all he needs, is to dig up a little bit of dirt on Rufus. He hires two spies to keep watch on Rufus, Pinky and Chicolini (played by Harpo and Chico respectively). Pinky doesn't talk and instead uses horns that he keeps tucked in his waist band, to communicate. He also seems to have some sort of scissor fetish, as he cuts anything that is dangled in front of him, such as Trentino's coattails or the end of his cigar.

The spies are basically hopeless in tracking Rufus, but deliver the funny, especially with the peanut vendor and the great "three-hat routine". Rufus eventually hires them for himself and they play both sides, constantly getting more and more confused and not knowing who they're working for. The climax sees the two countries initially go to war, as Rufus and Trentino insult each other to the point of battle.

The only bad thing that I can say about "Duck Soup", is that it ends way too soon. I wish this had gone on for another hour, as I could've listened to Groucho insult people for that much longer. The "three-hat routine" and the mirror scene are both classics and I've actually seen the mirror scene imitated before on an old episode of "I Love Lucy", but never realized that this was it's origin. The timing of the brothers was impecable and there was just something about Groucho that made my ears perk up whenever he was on, as I just didn't want to miss anything he had to say, because 99% of it was probably going to be something to laugh at. Harpo and Chico were great too, and the expressions on Harpo's face were classic and the ongoing cutting gag was hilarious. A lot of times when you watch older comedies, they same stuff that worked back then and was funny back then, just doesn't hold up today. That is not the case with "Duck Soup", as everything still holds up and is still really funny.

RATING: 10/10 I'm starting the countdown right now to "A Night at the Opera" which is my next Marx brothers movie and one that I cannot wait to see now.

NEXT UP: Queen Christina...My first Greta Garbo film and one that should be watched and reviewed later tonight.

January 23, 2010 4:19pm

1 comment:

  1. Look again at that poster, and truthfuly tell me it is not the Village people.
    Sorry, I was only next to this post to read up on 'Make way for tomorrow'


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