Sunday, 14 April 2013

Duck Soup


Leo McCarey

The Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo), Margaret Dumont, Raquel Torres, Louis Calhern and Edgar Kennedy

4 and up

In the bankrupt state of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is elected president with the backing of millionaire widow Mrs Teasdale (Dumont). Ambassador Trentino of neighbouring country Sylvania (Calhern) sends in two spies (Chico and Harpo) to spy on Firefly, creating lots of chaos and comedy in the process.  As the Ambassador Trentino attempts to woo Mrs Teasdale, Firefly declares war on Sylvania.  But can Firefly outwit his opponents?

Why it’s good
Because this is considered the best of the five films the Marx brothers made for Paramount. Many, many of the classic sequences here have been parodied in many, many other movies.

In this film, the politics is just a parody to the Depression. The year was 1933 during the Great Depression, and the Brothers were ready to give their very best. Once you hear that first musical number, "These Are the Laws of My Administration", you would think that whatever Groucho blabbers applies to any politician you can think of.

There are always a few classic sequences in each Marx Brothers movie, one which is funnier than the rest. Here, it is the mirror scene, where the Brothers start mimicking Firefly. Then they closely mimic each other's action in their best comic moment onscreen.  Click here to watch the classic mirror scene.  It still makes me laugh watching it!  The lemonade battle Chico and Harpo have with a lemonade vendor is just hilarious and rather aggressive.  The battle scenes are not graphic at all.

The "All God Chillun Got Guns" number in Duck Soup.
This is the only film where Harpo does not play the harp. Mussolini banned the film in Italy.

Parent’s guide
Nothing noteworthy, except that the battle sequence is a little scary.

If you like this…
The other 4 films the Brothers made for Paramount: "The Coconuts" (1929), "Animal Crackers" (1930), "Monkey Business" (1931) and "Horse Feathers" (1932). Do not mistake the 1931 Monkey Business film for the 1952 film of the same name starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe with a completely different plot.       

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