Monday, April 12, 2010

Duck Soup (1933) Leo McCarey


This is one of the funniest Marx Brothers movies you will ever see. If you’re not a Marx Brothers fan, don’t bother reading any further. It’s in my top three favorites, along with "Night at the Opera" (1935) and "Day at the Races" (1937). Watch Zeppo (Herbert) Marx in his last of seven movies; after brother, Gummo (Milton), left the act while in Vaudeville, Zeppo joined and played the straight man to his brothers. He obviously tired of this, moved on, and didn’t look back. The rest of the movies were made by Groucho (Julius), Chico (Leonard), and Harpo (Adolph, yes, Adolph).

Groucho Marx, as Rufus T. Firefly, is the ruling administrator, hired by the always-present Margaret Dumont to save Freedonia. The sly Louis Calhern is the ambassador of Sylvania, and yes, the countries go to war. “Go, and never darken my towels again!” As always, the three brothers are hilarious, verbally as well as physically. Don’t miss Edgar Kennedy as the lemonade street vendor and later in the bathtub with Harpo.

My favorite scene is the mirror gig with Groucho and the Groucho impersonators - if you’re not laughing out loud, there’s no hope for your sense of humor. This scene was later famously reprised by Lucy with Harpo on her TV show.

I could reveal the movie plot but there’s no point. The laughs are in the characters, the songs, and the jokes, replete in the dialogue and the music. Look for Groucho in the battle sequence where his uniform changes from Union soldier, Boy Scout, Davy Crockett, and more. “Hail, Freedonia!”. Watch, listen, and laugh your way through this movie.

Okay, so “who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

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