Duck Soup (1933)

Description[from Freebase]

Duck Soup is a 1933 Marx Brothers anarchic comedy film written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin, and directed by Leo McCarey. First released theatrically by Paramount Pictures on November 17, 1933, it starred what were then billed as the "Four Marx Brothers" (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) and also featured Margaret Dumont, Raquel Torres, Louis Calhern and Edgar Kennedy. It was the last Marx Brothers film to feature Zeppo, and the last of five Marx Brothers movies released by Paramount. Compared to the Marx Brothers' previous Paramount films, Duck Soup was a box-office disappointment, although it was not a "flop" as is sometimes reported. The film opened to mixed reviews, although this by itself did not end the group's business with Paramount. Bitter contract disputes, including a threatened walk-out by the Marxes, crippled relationships between them and Paramount just as Duck Soup went into production. After the film fulfilled their five-picture contract with the studio, the Marxes and Paramount agreed to part ways.

Review

Widely considered the best Marx brothers film ever (and landing at #5 on the AFI’s list of top comedies), Duck Soup presents Groucho at his best, playing a dictator (of a country called Freedonia, natch) who starts a war over a girl who lives in a neighboring country (and who has saved Freedonia from bankruptcy). The other brothers Marx play the dictator’s henchmen and spies. It’s a farce about politics and war that, in my opinion, has lost some of its topicality. While the puns here are exquisitie and Groucho sparring with himself in a mirror (actually a stand-in) is a priceless moment of the cinema, the send-up of Mussolini-types doesn’t quite pan out. Take the comedy, leave the story.

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