The Marx Brothers are at their hilarious best in this insanely satirical comedic romp. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo set international relations on its ear--and the audience in stitches--with their rapid-fire wit and hij... more »inks. Not to be missed, "Duck Soup" is one of the Marx Brothers' most popular films.« less
Hail, Hail the Marx Brothers! The Marxist view on war
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My favorite Marx Brothers movie is "A Night at the Opera," but this political satire, which was banned in Italy by Mussolini, is a very close second. It is definitely the best (and last) Marx Brothers movie with Zeppo, for what that is worth. As Groucho later pointed out, Zeppo's roles as the group's straight man were thankless. It was not that Zeppo lacked talent, but rather that he had three older brothers."In Duck Soup," the mythical nation of Freedonia is in trouble and Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) insists that the reigns of power be turned over to Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho). Ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) of the neighboring country of Sylvania employs a couple of spies, Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo), to shadow Firefly. Oh, and Firefly has a secretary, Bob Rolland (Zeppo). Many of the most famous sequences by the Brothers Marx are found in this film: (1) The mirror sequence between Groucho and Harpo (if it had been Groucho and Chico instead Groucho would have asked "Are you my reflection" and Chico would have answered "Sure"); (2) Harpo's encounter with street vendor Edgar Kennedy, master of the slow-burn (" "); (3) The "We're Going to War" take off on 1930s musicals ("They've got guns, we've got guns, all God's chil'en got guns"); (4) Groucho offering Chico the position of Secretary of War ("Sold!"); (5) Harpo offering Grouch a ride in the sidecar of his motorcyle ("This is the third trip I've taken today and I still haven't gone anywhere"); (6) Zeppo introducing the new leader of Freedonia, Rufus T. Fireflay ("Whatever it is, I'm against it."); and much, much more, including the lovely Rachel Torres as the lovely Vera Marcal!"Duck Soup" was helped by several factors. With director Leo McCarey the Marx Brothers finally had a first rate director who understood how to stage and shoot the action. The Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby screenplay does one of the better jobs of integrating the various comic routines into the overall story. After an absence of two films Margaret Dumont was back where she belonged, trying to stay above the insanity with no success whatsoever. Louis Calhern is arguably the ideal villain for the Marx Brothers because in scene after scene he plays it absolutely straight, without losing his dignity or becoming laughable (similar to the marvelous job by Kitty Carlisle in "A Night at the Opera"). Final tidbit: When the town of Fredonia, New York complained about its name being used in the film (the extra "e" did not matter for some reason," Groucho shot back: "Change the name of your town, it's hurting our picture." And, as always, please remember that the correct pronunciation of Leonard's stage name is "Chick-o" not "Cheek-o." The man liked the ladies and was not a young Hispanic male."
"After One Taste Of Duck Soup, You'll Duck Soup Forever!"
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 03/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Duck Soup" is as absurd, nonsensical and hilarious as a film can be and still make sense! A satire of dictatorships, war and politics, Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo are at their artfully outlandish best here. Running 68 minutes, the movie is a short one, but chock-full of laughs and lampoons. Released in 1933, during the crisis period of the Depression, the movie was to provide comic relief for the weary American public. It was a flop. Audiences were taken aback by such political disrespect. This is high praise, indeed in the 21st century.
Rufus T. Firefly, played by Groucho, becomes dictator of the mythical kingdom of Freedonia, a tiny country badly in need of additional finances to alleviate their bankrupt status. In other words, the place is a disaster - or why else would they select the man who would "never belong to a club that would have someone like him as a member?" The citizens agree to make Firefly their leader hoping, in return, to gain the financial patronage of the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale, (Margaret Dumont), whose deceased husband was their former president. Firefly is touted for "possessing the statesmanship of Gladstone, the humility of Lincoln, and the wisdom of Pericles." Ha! His primary idea for improving the country involves bilking Mrs Teasdale of her fortune for his own use, forget about Freedonia! He rejoices in making arbitrary decrees, and his appointments are blatantly nepotistic. The other Marx brothers play the dictator's spies and henchmen.
Firefly declares war on its neighboring country, Sylvania, when its Ambassador Trentino, (Louis Calhern), competes with him for Mrs. Teasdale's affections. Trentino's ultimate goal is to annex Freedonia to Sylvania. Poor Mrs. Teasdale.
The film's denouement involves a battle scene which represents the madness of war and the capriciousness of the men who decide to wage them. Groucho's famous line, "And remember while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are," drew lots of flack. Benito Mussolini banned "Duck Soup" because he believed it to be a direct attack.Ya gotta love it! That's comic power! This anarchic satire, which was a critical and commercial failure at the time - it almost sank Paramount Studios - was fortunately revived in the 1960s.
The Marx Brothers' usual non-stop freneticism, as well as some of their best gags, slapstick, and one-liners, including the lemonade seller confrontation and the mirror pantomime, make this movie such a classic. There are also some terrific musical numbers, like the Freedonia Hymn, "Just Wait 'Til I Get Through With It " and the staged production number, The Country's Goin' to War."
Finally, what does "Duck Soup: mean? It was a familiar American phrase that means anything simple or easy, or alternately, a gullible sucker or pushover. Under the opening credits, four quacking ducks (the four Marx Brothers) are seen swimming and cooking in a kettle over a fire. Groucho suposedly provided the following recipe to explain the title: "Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you'll duck soup for the rest of your life." JANA"
The best, for fans of the Marxes
mr_nasty | 04/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best film the Marx brothers ever did, particularly because it doesn't veer off into operatic musical numbers at any point (the only songs in this movie go along with the comic tone). Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly, who is chosen by the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale (played by the inimitably straight-faced Margaret DuMont - I can think of no better "straight man" - or woman, in this case - in all of comedy) to lead the bankrupt country of Freedonia away from impending war and financial ruin. The structure of the film closely resembles a Looney-Tunes cartoon, like many of the Marx's films; no reason is given for anything, it's all just inspired lunacy. Of course, it's worth the price of the video alone to hear Groucho and DuMont's exchanges - but the scenes where Chico and Harpo are harassing a street vendor are also hysterical. The entire film, like the previous "Animal Crackers," will withstand repeated viewings, simply because the movie flies at such a brisk pace, you're bound to miss some jokes here and there (you may not even catch them all after several times). Finally, also worth noting is the terrific send-up near the end of the film of the Busby Berkeley musical mega-finales that were popular at the time. A great political satire that deserves a place on your video / DVD rack."
A hilarious movie!
Kurt A. Johnson | North-Central Illinois, USA | 11/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To gain financial support from Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), the tiny bankrupt country of Freedonia agrees to take Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) as their new president (the poor saps). Mayhem springs from Firefly's cynical and sarcastic leadership, culminating in war with the neighboring country of Sylvania. Throughout, Pinky (Harpo Marx) and Chicolini (Chico Marx) are scheming among the great and powerful, taking money from Trentino (Louis Calhern) of Sylvania, and directing Firefly's war effort. [Black & white, created in 1933, with a running time of 70 minutes.]This movie contains some of Groucho's funniest witticisms, his badinage with Margaret Dumont producing some of the funniest lines in theatrical history. The story takes something of a backseat to the Marx brother's comedy, but this movie is first and foremost a satire of politics in general, and war and patriotism in particular. Back to the comedy, this movie is fantastically funny, containing the famous mirror scene, where Chico is dressed as Groucho, who must figure out if he is seeing his reflection or something else!This is a great movie. The comedy is funny and clean, and can be watched by viewers of any age. I highly recommend this movie."
One of the funniest movies of all time!
Alan R. Holyoak | 07/12/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like situation humor, disjointed connections, spontaneous one-liners, and sight gags, then the Marx Brothers in general, and "Duck Soup" in particular are are made to order for you!Groucho, of all people, is called in to save the financially troubled country of Freedonia. Little does he know, its neighbor, Sylvania, wants to stir revolt in Freedonia and then overrun it. But that's mostly in the background, designed to provide situations for the four Marx Brothers to interact with each other at the expense of various and sundry respectable people.This movie has it all -- romance (sort of), intruige (I suppose), international conflict (after a fashion), and a poor woman who in real life didn't get most of the jokes and gags surrounding her. If you pay attention to this movie you'll see the magic of Marx Bros' comedy and how bits and pieces of it have made it into films made by the likes of Monty Python.And, last, but not least, you've got to LOVE Freedonia's national anthem!5+ stars all the way! Definitely the Marx Brother's best movie ever!"