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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 4.65%
Average: 11.63%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.33%

2 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Duck Soup
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by MP Bartley

"I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers!!"
5 stars

For me, the Marx brothers are the funniest people that have ever graced this planet. For amiable banter and buddy movies, you probably can't top Abbott and Costello. For the pathos and the pain in laughter, it's Chaplin every time. And for the the pinnacle of slapsick you really can't get any better than Laurel and Hardy. But for insane, eye-popping, head-spinning genius of the highest order just take a look at the Marx brothers.

'A Night at the Opera' is probably their funniest film, joke for joke, minute for minute. But for the film that has lasted the longest, that still has the edge today, that still seems spookily relevant, it's 'Duck Soup'.

Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly, the newly appointed president of Freedonia who is making his lecherous advances towards Margaret Dumont, who as ever, gamely holds her won with Groucho. Part of his plan to cover up the fact that Freedonia is bankrupt, is to declare war on its neighbour Sylvania, and unite the nation through the act of war (see what I mean about being relevant?). This is complicated by the fact Freedonia has been infiltrated by two spies, Chicolini and Pinky (Chico and Harpo) who then decide to swap sides. And, this being a Marx brothers film, chaos reigns.

By the way, do you care what the fourth brother does in this film?

Thought not.

'Duck Soup' still has an edge today, because it's the best film to remind us just how dangerous the Marx brothers were. Groucho is hilarious, but no-one is safe form his cruel verbal putdowns. Chico may have a charming silver tongue, but he'd have your valuables as soon as your back was turned. And while Harpo may have the innocent look of a boisterous child, that's to hide a bullying streak a mile wide, where he seems only a moment away from exploding into physical violence. It's an indication of how good their performances were and how fast Leo McCarey's direction is, that we rarely dwell on these facts and just focus on the madcap antics instead.

Consider for example, that when 'Duck Soup' was made, World War One was still a raw and painful memory. So it might make you appreciate just how shocking the jokes are when Groucho guns down his own men on the battlefield before bribing people to keep it secret. And yet, amazingly, it's still hilarious. And that was the true genius of the Marx brothers, to take taboo subjects and make them funny.

But 'Duck Soup' isn't just a satire on war, it contains some of their most inspired sequences. There's Groucho bamboozling his cabinet with his neverending wordplay, some terrific scenes running in and out of his bedroom with a gramaphone, but I'll just say the word 'mirrors' to you and let you find one of the funniest, choreograped to perfection, scenes ever put onto film.

"And remember, while you're out there risking you're life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.". Funny or a scathing criticism of government hawks, still relevant 80 years on? You go watch 'Duck Soup' and then decide.

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originally posted: 02/24/05 03:41:15
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User Comments

4/13/15 jokerass IDIOT 1 stars
2/20/15 Chris Jarmick One of the funniest, best Marx Brothers 'nuff said 5 stars
2/09/11 Josie Cotton is a goddess The marx brothers at their best. The jokes and gags are non stop 5 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Hail hail Freedonia. Best Marx brothers movie ever. 5 stars
7/14/09 damalc still has laugh-out-loud moments but dated 3 stars
6/02/07 Andrew One of the funniest movies EVER made. Enough said. 5 stars
7/11/06 Ryan_A Consistently funny with some great gags and wordplay. Groucho's in fine form. 5 stars
4/04/06 millersxing The comedic brilliance painfully loses steam whenever the film offers "color" commentary. 4 stars
7/07/05 John MacKendrick Wall-to-wall gags 5 stars
2/26/05 Joy Venters PRETTY GOOD, BUT NOT ONE OF THEIR BEST 3 stars
1/27/05 Nicole Very Funny and very good at some of the best word play 5 stars
12/27/04 mjoc Hasn't aged well. May have been funny in the 30s, but is a bore now. 3 stars
12/07/04 Larry Vazeos Single greatest film ever made (comedy or otherwise-what difference does it make?) 5 stars
11/08/04 Penny Layne Funniest Marx Brother by far. 5 stars
5/18/04 bj my hat is off to the original slap stick masters 5 stars
5/06/04 David Fowler Brilliant! Thr greatest comedy of all time! 5 stars
10/22/03 George Bath fantastic and im 14 years old, the classics never die 5 stars
9/17/03 Alan 68 minutes just isn't enough time. Hilarious, but too short to kick back and relax. 4 stars
6/01/03 Jon Lyrik Hilarious. One of the funniest films ever made. 5 stars
6/02/02 BaitedSoul Hilarous, but nothing profound... 3 stars
6/01/02 doug May as well watch some good stand up comedy. 3 stars
5/25/02 Charles Tatum And today we shell out $ to see Adam Sandler? 5 stars
2/06/02 Andrew Carden Hilarious Slapstick Farce. Excellent Comic Team. 5 stars
1/31/01 R.W. Welch The whacked-out Marx boys at their funniest -- which is pretty funny. 5 stars
1/31/01 Big Isil Is this the Marx Bros. best film? the wise-cracking humor never dies 5 stars
6/22/00 David Braun One of the funniest films of all time; timeless 5 stars
4/06/00 Jessica Lais HILARIOUS!!! 5 stars
3/02/00 michelle smith it was really funny 5 stars
1/02/00 Alex DeLarge If you like this movie, read the book "Gravity's Rainbow" 5 stars
12/29/99 Anthony Ellis Although it isn't for everyone, this is a true comedy classic!!!! 5 stars
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  DVD: 09-Nov-2004



Directed by
  Leo McCarey

Written by
  Nat Perrin
  Arthur Sheekman
  Bert Kalmar

  Groucho Marx
  Harpo Marx
  Chico Marx
  Zeppo Marx
  Margaret Dumont
  Raquel Torres

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